The NCAA coaching carousel has traditionally been something that fans, schools, and coaches alike have not had to worry about early in the season. However, starting with the firing of Les Miles at LSU, that has all changed in recent weeks. There is a real possibility that Miles may not be the only coach not to make it to November, and that could all start this week.
It is safe to say that the NCAA coach that is on the hottest of hot seats is Charlie Strong of Texas. Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around as to why the Longhorns are at 2-2, but pollsters didn’t help Strong’s cause this year. Neither the AP or Football Coaches Preseason Poll had Texas in the top 25 teams in the nation.
Texas faced the AP’s ranked No. 10 (Coaches No. 9) Notre Dame Fighting Irish the first week of the season. Texas hung 50 points on the board and escaped with a thrilling 50-47 victory in Austin. As great of a win as this was for a young program, expectations went through the roof. Texas found themselves ranked No. 11 the next week according to the AP.
Now, Strong finds his Longhorns at 2-2 facing the Sooners in the Red River Rivalry which may decide if he makes it through the end of the year. While most contend that Texas wouldn’t fire a coach in the middle of the season, Texas athletic director Mike Perrin claimed to be evaluating everything.
It is hard to believe that it is possible to talk about a coach being on the hot seat that had his team in the National Championship game just three years ago. However, that is exactly where Brian Kelly finds himself. As mentioned, the Irish have gone from preseason championship contenders to 2-3 which includes an upset loss to Duke.
The schedule doesn’t favor Kelly. Notre Dame still has three ranked teams left on the schedule in Stanford, Miami, and Virginia Tech. If they can’t win those games, they will find themselves at best 6-6, and with each loss, fan support which is sketchy at best right now will dwindle further. According to the SB Nation Fan Page, One Foot Down, it is imagined that the vast majority of the fan base want Kelly dismissed.
Again, this is another difficult pill to swallow, but there is a good chance of Stoops being on the hot seat with Sooner Nation. Oklahoma was ranked in the top three of both polls to begin the season only to get dismantled by a very good Houston team the opening game. They also lost to Ohio State, and now, find themselves 2-2 just as their opponent Texas is coming into this week’s rivalry game.
The winner this week could save their job for the time being while the loser will be in trouble. In Stoops’ case much like Kelly’s, he has not endeared himself to Sooner fans. In fact, the Star-Telegram reported that CEO of Extex and prominent OU booster Wallis Marsh fears what might happen with further Sooner defeats.
“If we lose a couple more games, this unorganized tropical depression could become a named storm. The people that are close to the program, the people that support the program, the people that love the program the most aren’t in that camp right now — yet, It’s starting to fester.”
It’s hard to imagine the end of a college football season that could see openings at LSU, Oklahoma, Texas, and Notre Dame, but as each loss mounts up, that possibility becomes more likely. This could be just the tip of the iceberg as well. Gus Malzahn at Auburn, Mark Helfrich at Oregon, and Clay Helton at USC have also been coaches at prominent division one schools that are mentioned to be on the hot seat.
Which of these coaches do you feel will be the first to be slung from the NCAA coaching carousel? Do you feel they should be allowed to finish the season, or should these schools get rid of them and start the search early?
[Featured Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]