Each year, a number of college football coaches end up losing their jobs, while others barely escape the same fate. These coaches need a winning season, a win over a rival, a bowl berth, or must somehow show some vast improvement in the next season.
Interestingly, college football coaches with winning records will often be “on the hot seat” since they might not be viewed as doing enough for their program. That said, here is a look at five coaches who are squarely on the hot seat heading into the 2023 campaign.
Danny Gonzalez, New Mexico
Lobos fans probably miss Bob Davie’s 2015 and 2016 winning seasons. Gonzalez is 7-24 in three years with the Lobos. New Mexico is 3-20 in Mountain West Conference play. That includes a dismal 0-8 last season.
The Lobos’ offense totaled 228.1 yards per game, the absolute worst in the nation. They ranked 129th in scoring, averaging 13.1 points per game. Gonzalez will return four offensive starters, three on the offensive line. The season starts at Texas A&M and there are late season back-to-back trips to Boise State and Fresno State.
Dino Babers, Syracuse
How long will Syracuse fans tolerate Babers? Babers went 10-3 after two 4-8 seasons in Years 1 and 2. Since that 2018 campaign, Babers has had just one winning season. That came last year. The Orange went 7-6, but they started the season 6-0 and were ranked in the AP Top 25.
Replicating that this season will be difficult. Syracuse plays at Purdue on Sept. 16, Clemson at home on September 30, North Carolina, Florida State, and Virginia Tech are all on the road.
Steve Sarkisian, Texas
Sarkisian is 13-12 in Austin. That kind of record doesn’t really make Longhorns fans all warm and fuzzy. The Longhorns’ offense hasn’t taken off after Sarkisian’s success at Alabama. Last season, the Horns improved to 8-5 and beat eventual Big 12 champion Kansas State. Texas also beat rival Oklahoma 49-0.
Nine offensive starters, including QB Quinn Ewers, return for Texas. Many expect Sarkisian’s team to win the new-look Big 12. Six defensive starters return. Sark is likely safe, but if the Longhorns falter, Texas may be looking elsewhere for a head coach to lead them into the SEC in 2024.
Neal Brown, West Virginia
West Virginia fans are not too happy with Brown. He has one winning season in four years. That was because COVID-19 cut the 2020 season short. Brown is 22-25 at WVU. That comes to 5.5 wins per season. The last time West Virginia was that bad was between 1977-80 when they went 18-27.
Penn State is up first on the schedule and Pitt renews the Backyard Brawl in 2023. The Mountaineers play Texas Tech and TCU in Big 12 play. Late last season, Brown was +200 to be the next college coach fired. That may carry over into 2023.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M
Ole Jimbo has been under fire since losing four games in his first season in College Station. Fisher’s predecessor, Kevin Sumlin, went 44-21 and was fired after Year 5. Fisher is 39-21 (23-18 SEC) in five seasons in College Station and hasn’t been let go yet.
Last year’s 5-7 Aggies lost six straight SEC games. Fisher “saved” the season by beating UMass and LSU in the season finale. Fisher, like Brown, was given +200 odds to be the next CFB coach fired late last season.
It’s highly possible that Fisher and the Aggies could go 5-7 again and Jimbo keeps his job. There are 76,800,000 reasons why he might remain. If fired before the end of 2023, Texas A&M would owe Fisher $76.8 million.
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