Every year plenty of coaches have a lot to prove in order to keep their jobs. A lot of coaches start the year on the hot seat before even playing a game. Here are the coaches this season that are starting the season on the hot seat.
Chris Ash, Rutgers
Rutgers isn’t an easy job, that is certain. Chris Ash left Ohio State to take on the challenge. In his three years of coaching in New Jersey, Ash has posted a 7-29 record. Last season, the Scarlet Knights won just one game, which happened to be in their first game of the season against Texas State.
Things aren’t looking good for Rutgers this year either. They may get a few more wins, but will it be enough for them to keep Ash? They have possible wins in these games: Massachusetts, Liberty and at Illinois. Even if he wins all of those, Ash may not get a fifth year at Rutgers.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
The Illini made a big hire when they brought in Lovie Smith. In his three seasons, Smith is just 9-27 overall. They did have a better season last year, as they won four games. Smith may not be able to go another season without making a bowl game though.
If there were a year for the Illini to make a leap forward, this would be it. There are plenty of returning starters and Smith knows his football. The problem for them is that the rest of the Big Ten will be tough. These are the games they can win: Akron, at Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, at Minnesota and Rutgers. If he wins all five it will be an improvement, but may not be enough. They have a young team though, so Smith could get one more year after this one to figure things out.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
It seems like every other year Malzahn is on this list. That’s what happens in a tough SEC West. Last season, the Tigers won eight games, including a Music City Bowl victory over Purdue. With a 53-27 record in his time at Auburn, Malzahn has done decently, but hasn’t quite been able to live up to some high standards.
This season could be a tough one for Auburn if they don’t figure out their quarterback situation. Their defense will be good, but Malzahn needs to get the offense going like he did when he first started at Auburn. If they finish fourth or lower in the SEC West, Malzahn may be gone at the end of the season, for better or for worse.
Willie Taggart, Florida State
Taggart has only been at Florida State for one season, but the rumors of him being fired are already coming up. He went 5-7 last season, as the Seminoles missed out on a bowl. They had talent on the roster, but fell short in just about every statistical category.
The good news for Taggart is he has enough talent at most positions to win some games and get himself off the hot seat. The ACC has a lot of games that the Seminoles can win. With the rumors already out, the question becomes: How many wins does Taggart need to get to save his job?
Clay Helton, USC
Helton has been at USC five years now and things have not gone exactly as planned. He is 32-17 overall, but went 5-7 last year. The thought of USC not making a bowl game is a lot to take on for how much history they have as a program.
The Trojans are in a Pac-12 South where anything can happen. USC definitely has to make a bowl game, but might have to do more than that for Helton to stay in Los Angeles. To ensure he keeps his job, he likely needs to win the Pac-12 South and at least get eight or nine wins.
Group of Five Coaches on the Hot Seat
Frank Wilson, UTSA- Wilson did ok his first two seasons at UTSA, but won just three games last year. Things aren’t looking like they’ll improve this season.
Mike Neu, Ball State- With a record of 10-27 at Ball State, Neu has to win in year four.
Tony Sanchez, UNLV- There were a lot of expectations when Sanchez was hired from Bishop Gorman High School, but he has just 16 wins in four seasons.
Brent Brennan, SJSU- In two years, Brennan has won just three games. Another bad season and he could be out.
Bob Davie, New Mexico- A buyout has been a saving grace for Davie, but with off the field and on the field problems his time at the program may end soon.
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