After a small hiatus, I’m back to making content for The Walk-On Redshirts! Wedding, baseball coaching and just life forced me to take a step back for a few months but look for the content to ramp up over the next few months. Starting off we are going to talk about coaches who are on the hot seat entering the 2023 season. We saw programs such as Stanford, Auburn, Wisconsin and Nebraska hire new coaches. Multiple high level power five programs will be looking for new coaches after this season if their current coach does not move the program in the correct direction.
Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) – Jimbo Fisher’s tenure at Texas A&M has been lackluster and not held up to expectations. His only top ten finish occurred in 2020 when the Aggies went 9-1. Fisher’s team struggled last season stumbling to a 5-7 record and failing to appear in a bowl game. He has lost at least four games in all but one season as the head coach of Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin never had a losing record and was fired after a 7-5 season. The Aggies lost more than 20 players to the transfer portal but remain a young and talented team. Fisher can get Texas A&M back on track but also face a difficult schedule. The Aggies will face Miami FL, Tennessee, South Carolina along with the rest of the SEC West. Will a winning record be enough for Fisher to keep his job heading into 2024?
Steve Sarkisian (Texas) – Steve Sarkisian is heading into his third season as the Texas head coach and owns a 13-12 record. The expectations are high for the Longhorns with analysts such as Urban Meyer stating Texas as the most talented roster in the country. Quinn Ewers will battle with Arch Manning for the starting job after both quarterbacks were ranked the top player in the country for their respective recruiting classes. The Longhorns are in their final season with the Big 12 before they move to the SEC in 2024. The expectations are always higher with Texas. Sarkisian needs to live up to the hype or the administration could look to make a change before joining the SEC. Nine wins would be acceptable but Texas fans really should have the expectation of winning the Big 12 this season.
Jeff Hafley (Boston College) – Jeff Hafley was lucky to be retained for the 2023 season after going 3-9 last year. Hafley is 15-20 across three seasons and has struggled to find consistency. Some of the issues can be attributed to injuries but others are relating to failed execution. Hafley’s teams have struggled on defense. Boston College allowed more than 30 points in eight of the 12 games last year. Hafley is viewed as a defensive minded coach so struggling in his area of expertise is a concern. Boston College is one of the hardest jobs in the country because of limited resources and the recruiting landscape. New England is not viewed as a fertile recruiting area meaning players have to travel a distance to attend Boston College. Hafley will need to make a bowl game in order for him to even have a chance at keeping his job.
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) – Pat Fitzgerald has been the head coach at Northwestern since 2006 but the program should consider moving in a new direction. He helped Northwestern make two appearances in the Big Ten Championship but the program has been trending down. The Wildcats have just one winning season over the past four years. Fitzgerald has won just 14 games over the past four seasons which include a 7-2 season in 2020. He helped Northwestern move out of the cellar of the Big Ten for a majority of the past decade but he is coming off his worst season with the Wildcats. Northwestern is not a program with high expectations but they also should not keep Fitzgerald around because of what he once did or because he is an alum. Look for the Wildcats to possibly move on from Fitzgerald if he is not able to make a bowl game this season.
Neal Brown (West Virginia) – Neal Brown still having a job with West Virginia is shocking to me. West Virginia has taken a significant step back under Brown’s management. The Mountaineer’s are 22-25 over the past four years and have not won more than six games in a season. Brown has attempted to fix the issues by bringing in new coaches and utilizing the transfer portal. He brought in Graham Harrell to improve the offense and gave Georgia transfer JT Daniels a chance at quarterback. Unfortunately for West Virginia, the schedule is not friendly to them this season. The Mountaineers start the season at Penn State and will also host Pitt. Brown will need to win at least seven or eight games in order to keep his job but the program’s ceiling feels like it is six wins for this season.