The 2019 college football season is less than two months away. For a few coaches, that means some serious progress has to come soon.
Every year, CBS Sports publishes its “hot seat rankings” for every single FBS coach. For some, there is no doubt where they stand.
The coaches are judged on a zero-to-five scale, with zero being “untouchable” and five meaning the coach must “win or be fired.” 12 coaches, including Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Kirby Smart, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Frost, and Lincoln Riley, have that safest designation.
Meanwhile, three coaches are on the verge of getting the axe: Rutgers’ Chris Ash, Illinois’ Lovie Smith, and New Mexico’s Bob Davie.
Smith was also a “5” last year, so his return in 2019 is a pretty major surprise. From Dennis Dodd:
The amount of love for Lovie surprised me when I had him on this list last year. There were plenty of folks in Smith’s corner. There was progress, they said. There was the contract extension, they said. There was improvement in Year 3 to 4-8, they said. But the buyout has been reduced, and the Big Ten isn’t getting easier. That Team Up North (Northwestern) played for the conference title last season. Smith has become his own defensive coordinator. He’d better be good.
While they may not be in “win or be fired” mode, other major coaches, like Jim Harbaugh, Willie Taggart, and Clay Helton are in some peril.
Six coaches are ranked as “4s”, or “start improving now,” with Helton and Florida State’s Willie Taggart being the biggest names.
Taggart popping up here after just one year tells you all you need to know about how poorly 2018 went in Tallahassee:
Whatever your level of support for Taggart, it cannot be denied the program is at a crossroads in 2019. In a few short years, Clemson has taken off and separated itself from the ACC (and the rest of college football for that matter). The schools used to be the cream of the conference. There was plenty of blame handed out after the 36-year bowl streak was broken. Still, Taggart has to turn things around in a hurry. Athletic director Dave Coburn is saying all the right things, but the pressure will be on him, too, if the Noles go bowless again.
Harbaugh, whose Michigan Wolverines are the favorite to win the Big Ten in this post-Urban Meyer world, finds himself at a “3,” which CBS defines as “pressure is mounting.” He’s joined by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn in that category. It is very unlikely that Harbaugh is fired by Michigan, but if he can’t get over the hump against the Buckeyes, questions about his job will start to grow much louder.