Coaches often say they are always on the hot seat. That might be true, but some seats are hotter than others.
Last season, Southern California and Texas changed coaches and created a cascade of corresponding moves.
A similar situation could play out this season, with a few coaches in high-profile positions heading into 2014 very much in need of winning records and quality victories.
Six coaches entering pivotal seasons for their job security.
Will Muschamp, Florida:
Muschamp had a mediocre first season (7-6), a great second season (11-2) and a terrible third season (4-8) with the Gators. Injuries played a big part in ruining 2013, but oh that offense was ugly. Kurt Roper was hired away from Duke to be the coordinator. Roper plans to spread things out more, up the tempo at times, and benefit from the return of quarterback Jeff Driskel, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. Muschamp has plenty of talent to work with on the defensive side. Another losing season would not be tolerated in Gainesville. The question is just how big of a turnaround does Muschamp need?
Brady Hoke, Michigan:
While Muschamp’s time at Florida has been up and down, Hoke’s three-year stint with the Wolverines has been a steady decline. Eleven victories. Eight victories. Seven victories. It’s one thing for the Wolverines to chasing Ohio State. But Michigan State, too? Hoke is also banking on a new offensive coordinator to fix some of his problems. He hired Doug Nussmeier, whose offenses put up big numbers at Alabama even though they weren’t quite what Nick Saban was looking for. The Wolverines have a roster loaded with highly rated recruits, but short on experience. It looks like a team set to blossom next season. Hoke might not be able to wait that long.
Charlie Weis, Kansas:
The Jayhawks have improved in two seasons under Weis, going from one victory to three last season, including their first Big 12 win since 2010. Improved is still a long way from good. The Jayhawks are loaded with experience and should have their best team under the former Notre Dame coach. But will another small step forward be enough?
Mike London, Virginia:
London’s had one winning season in four with Virginia, including last season’s ugly 2-10 that ended with nine straight losses. Virginia decided to give London another year instead of eating a big chunk of contract. He’ll add some blue chip recruits to an experienced defense, but with games against UCLA, BYU, Florida State and Louisville, a major turnaround will be difficult.
Kyle Flood, Rutgers:
A record of 15-11 in two seasons with the Scarlet Knights shouldn’t put a coach on the hot seat, but a nine-win season followed by a six-win season has the arrow pointed in the wrong direction. And now Rutgers moves into the Big Ten to face a brutal schedule (Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska). Add to that the fact that athletic director Julie Hermann, who has had some of her own problems since arriving at New Jersey’s state university, didn’t hire Flood, and it’s a volatile mix. Did we mention that for Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is available? Volatile.
Tim Beckman, Illinois:
Like Kansas under Weis, Illinois improved from Year 1 to Year 2 under Beckman, going from two wins to four. Bringing in Bill Cubit to run the offense worked wonders last season, but the Illini still couldn’t stop anyone. And February’s recruiting class was ranked last in the Big Ten by Rivals. Another bowl-less winter would be a tough sell in Champaign.
Extra point: Others getting toasty include: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia; Norm Chow, Hawaii; Troy Calhoun, Air Force; and if Nebraska takes a step backward, it’d be interesting to see what happens with Bo Pelini.