Feeling the Heat: Coaches on the Hot Seat
Through four weeks of college football, many programs are starting to find themselves into coaching dilemmas.
With LSU headlining the discussion by recently firing their head coach, Les Miles, which other coaches could be on their way out soon?
Clay Helton, USC
Helton took over the reigns in Southern California after Steve Sarkisian was fired in 2015, and what started as just an interim tag eventually turned into a permanent job. Since taking over as head coach, Helton has a 6-7 record including a 1-3 start this season. Head football coach at USC is one of the most coveted jobs in the country, drawing interest from coaches throughout college football and even the National Football League. If the Trojans don’t pick it up, expect Helton to be replaced after just one full season as head coach at USC.
Charlie Strong, Texas
After opening the season with a thrilling 50-47, double-overtime victory over Notre Dame, Texas looked to be off and running into the new season. However, giving up 50 points two weeks later in a loss to California was not very promising, especially when teams like Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU are still on the schedule. Strong has certainly not lived up to his contract thus far at Texas, with a record of 13-15 since 2014. The Longhorns are currently ranked 22 in the AP poll but will surely be tested in the coming weeks.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Auburn is currently 2-2 with wins over LSU and Arkansas State and losses to Texas A&M and Clemson. As a team that is just two years out of their 2014 national title berth, expectations are through the roof. Malzahn recently signed a contract extension, keeping him with the Tigers through 2020. He will now be making just south of $5 million a year, which makes him one of the highest paid coaches in the country. Unless Auburn can get back to being a national powerhouse like they were just a couple seasons ago, expect moves to be made before the season concludes.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
This could be a long shot, especially because the Fighting Irish finished 10-3 last year, but Notre Dame’s season has been a complete and utter mess so far. With a defense that can barely stop a nosebleed, expecting the offense to pick up the slack is quite a stretch. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has already been fired as a result of losses to Texas, Michigan State, and Duke. Notre Dame is another team that played for a national title just a few seasons ago, making expectations in South Bend high. Expect coaching changes to be considered if Notre Dame continues to disappoint.
James Franklin, Penn State
This may be the most controversial of all the coaches on the hot seat. Franklin took over a depleted program that was hit extremely hard with NCAA sanctions as a result of the Sandusky scandal. In Franklin’s defense, this is the first season he is able to work with 100 percent of his scholarships back, but going 0-6 against ranked opponents in his tenure in Happy Valley is unacceptable. The Lions continue to be bullied by teams such as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Franklin finished with a couple of 7-6 finishes in his two years in State College, which isn’t that bad given the circumstances. However, looking back at the schedule, Penn State could have easily finished with more wins had it not been for poor time management mistakes made by Franklin and his staff. Attributing Penn State’s struggles with the sanctions can only last so much longer. When will the Lions have to see immense success before Franklin’s job security becomes at risk?
Mason Gallina is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org