In college football, it is no longer acceptable to have a down season without consequences. Usually, it means that if you don't turn things around during the next campaign, you'll be looking for a new job. It doesn't seem to matter how much success you've had in the past, either.
Want to hear a fun fact? The longest-tenured head coaches in college football (at their current locations) are Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz - both of whom were hired back in 1999. They are the only two holdovers who weren't hired by their schools in the 21st century.
In 2016, there will be 25 head coaches taking over different programs - and most have their positions because their predecessors got fired.
We've gone through every power five program and come up with a list of 12 current head coaches who need to show progress in 2016 if they want to keep their jobs. Remember, expectations are different everywhere:
12. Dave Clawson
Clawson's seat isn't on fire - not even close to it. In fact, there aren't many at Wake Forest who are even calling for his head. He inherited a tough situation, has put a solid defensive product on the field, and has recruited slightly better than his predecessors. But at some point, he will have to show progress in the win column.
In his first two years, the team has finished with identical 3-9 records, including 1-7 marks in conference. The team's lone ACC win this past year? A 3-0 triumph over league doormat Boston College. That pretty much sums up where Wake Forest is as a program these days.
Clawson may be afforded more than three years, given the fact that he's trying to rebuild a snakebitten program in a tough conference. But he'll likely need the Demon Deacons to improve on offense (ranked 113th out of 127 teams in 2015) if he wants to keep fans interested. 2016 is a big year for Clawson.
11. Mike Riley
There are many who believe that Nebraska is going to have a serious rebound year in 2016, considering the team won three of its last four games this past season and seemed to figure things out down the stretch. But if the Cornhuskers don't turn things around, and instead finish around .500 again, head coach Mike Riley will be in trouble.
Remember - Nebraska, a once-proud program that boasts five national titles - fired former head coach Bo Pelini because (among other reasons) he was producing too many nine-win teams and not even national title contenders. One down season, while unacceptable, is tolerable. Two in a row won't work in Lincoln.
Plus, Riley, at 62 years old, isn't the kind of coach you give four or five years to get a program going. It's possible that the Cornhuskers give him three to figure it all out, but probably only if there is real progress in year two.
10. Derek Mason
In Mason's second season at the helm, Vanderbilt did show some signs of improvement. The Commodores won four games (one more than in 2014) and registered a pair of SEC wins after getting shut out in the conference the year before.
Vanderbilt is historically a tough place to win, so Mason doesn't have an overwhelming amount of pressure on him. Still, he took over for a coach (James Franklin) who enjoyed tremendous success at VU, and he's just 7-17 in his two seasons as head coach.
The Commodores have a typical SEC slate in 2016, plus a non-conference trip to Georgia Tech. Another 3-9 or 4-8 season and Mason's status could very well be in question.
9. Mark Stoops
After taking Kentucky from 2-10 in his first year in 2013 to a 5-7 mark in 2014, there was some buzz around Stoops this season. In the first month of the season, the Wildcats beat South Carolina and Missouri. In fact, the fast start had fans eyeing a possible run at the SEC Eastern Division title.
From that point forward, the roof caved in. The Wildcats had to escape Eastern Kentucky in overtime to get to 4-1 before dropping five games in a row. Included in that quintet of defeats was a loss to Vanderbilt. After routing Charlotte, Kentucky fell 38-24 to rival Louisville in the finale to cap off another 5-7 campaign.
Expectations aren't otherworldly at Kentucky and Stoops has recruited at a higher level than past UK coaches. Still, if he doesn't begin to translate some of that young talent into better on-field results, he could find himself in trouble. He just hired a new offensive coordinator this off-season, so we'll see if that move brings about improvement.
8. Gus Malzahn
Malzahn took Auburn to the national championship game in his first season, and there were many predicting the Tigers could reach those heights in 2015. Instead, they flopped tremendously, finishing the regular season with a 6-6 record before defeating Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl. While all that was going on, AU's biggest rival was off winning its fourth national title in the past seven seasons.
Currently, Auburn has the 11th-rated recruiting class in the country, so there's talent coming to The Plains to join what is already there. An opening weekend test against Clemson should go a long way toward indicating how the Tigers should fare in 2016.
After defensive coordinator Will Muschamp left to take the head job at South Carolina, Malzahn replaced him with Kevin Steele, who he poached from LSU. After two straight years of declining win totals, Malzahn could be on the hot seat if he doesn't produce results in Year Four.
7. Mike MacIntyre
Since taking over Colorado's head coaching position in 2013, Mike MacIntyre has won a combined 10 games, failing to win more than four in a single season. If things don't turn around quickly in 2016, MacIntyre's seat may be scalding by the time next season's schedule comes to a close.
Things seemed to be looking up in 2015 as the Buffaloes opened the season winning three of their first four games, but that's where the success came to an end. Through the final nine games of the year, they managed just one more victory - against a two-win Oregon State team. However, Colorado was on the verge of several more, losing four of those games by a touchdown or less.
2016 is a make or break season for MacIntyre, and it's not going to be easy. The Buffaloes have to go on the road against the likes of Michigan, Oregon, USC and Stanford. Ouch.
If he doesn't finish with his strongest season yet, MacIntyre may be looking for another job this time next year.
6. Darrell Hazell
Three full seasons at Purdue have not done much for head coach Darrell Hazell's resume, and his hot seat is getting even hotter as he heads into his fourth season at the helm of the ship. If he doesn't turn things around in 2016, the Boilermakers may be looking for a new coach this time next year.
Failing to win more than three games in a single season, Hazell has managed to coach his way to just six combined wins over the last three years, taking a step back this past season. That being said, one of his two wins was against Nebraska, and three of his losses were by a touchdown or less.
Things need to change, and change quick, for the head coach.
2016 features road games against Maryland and Nebraska and home games against Iowa and Wisconsin, but the overall schedule is not that daunting. It appears to be perfect timing for a coach who is hanging on by a thread.
5. James Franklin
Expectations at Penn State may be a little higher than some of the other schools on this list, and with those expectations comes a shorter leash. James Franklin will enter only his third season as the Nittany Lions' head football coach in 2016, but his seat appears to be just as hot as anyone else's - and for good reason.
Since taking over in 2014, Franklin has yet to win more than seven games, and has not won a single game--in six attempts--against a ranked opponent. This has kept the Nittany Lions out of the Big Ten picture.
Given the team's schedule, there is hope for both Franklin and Penn State fans in 2016. The Nittany Lions get Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State at home this season, but have to go on the road against Michigan. Penn State will have to defend its home field if Franklin wants to keep his job secure.
Expectations will continue to be high in Happy Valley. It's make or break for Franklin in 2016.
Holgorsen's tenure at West Virginia has never been simple. That much is certain. However, the Mountaineers have slipped into mediocrity with their move to the Big 12, and that passionate fan base is growing a bit restless.
Holgorsen's first season, which came a year early after Bill Stewart was forced out before the season, was a rousing success. In its final Big East year, West Virginia went 10-3, winning the league and blasting Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. The move to the Big 12 was a good one for the stability of the program, but the Mountaineers have been an also-ran in that league. In four Big 12 seasons, Holgorsen is 26-25, and just 20-23 in conference play.
Holgorsen was hired to take the program to the next level—a national championship level according to ex-athletic director Oliver Luck—but Stewart was 28-12 with a Fiesta Bowl win as interim coach. Granted, the Big East was an easier league, but West Virginia has slipped farther from the top of college football under Holgorsen, it hasn't gotten closer. Rich Rodriguez set a high standard in Morgantown. Stewart failed to maintain momentum, and regression has only continued under Holgorsen.
3. Charlie Strong
Most rebuilding programs would probably give an accomplished coach like Charlie Strong more than three seasons before sacking him. Obviously, the verdict is still far from out on his tenure in Austin, but if Strong's Longhorns don't show some significant growth in 2016, he could be looking for a new job next December.
Fair? Maybe not. Mack Brown did not leave Strong with the talent that a program like Texas should have, especially at the quarterback position. He famously let numerous celebrated quarterbacks, including J.T. Barrett, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, slip through his fingers. If Brown had landed even one of those players, aside from maybe Barrett, who is younger than the rest, he may still be coaching at Texas. Instead, Texas' starting quarterbacks have been non-competitive since Colt McCoy graduated, and the program has fallen to the middle of the Big 12, while other in-state programs like Baylor and TCU have reached new heights.
While many of the Longhorns' issues can be laid at Brown's feet, other power programs have shown pretty quick turnarounds in recent years, while Texas didn't show much progress this season, aside from a win over Oklahoma which looks very fluky now. Recruiting isn't exactly surging, either. Texas only has 13 commits just over a week from Signing Day. The class ranks No. 37 nationally, per 247Sports, and is only No. 4 in the Big 12.
Those rankings mean nothing if Strong wins nine games in 2016, but if the team doesn't show serious improvement, Texas may look to make a change.
2. Les Miles
Les Miles is beloved throughout college football, and has a national championship under his belt at LSU. Even so, it may have taken a convincing win in the regular season finale against Texas A&M for Miles to save his job. After a 7-0 start, No. 2 LSU was drubbed at Alabama 30-16, the first of three straight losses for the Tigers. The A&M win, and blowout against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl were a good close to the season, but with the talent LSU has returning for 2016, another nine-win year may not cut it.
Leonard Fournette, the Heisman frontrunner for much of 2015, is back, along with quarterback Brandon Harris, who showed some improvement this year, talented receiver Malachi Dupre, and a load of defensive talent. LSU may also bring in the nation's top recruiting class next week, a testament to Miles' ability to keep Louisiana's top talent at home.
Miles' biggest issue is living in the shadow of Alabama, which just took home its fourth national championship under former Tigers head coach Nick Saban. As consistently good as LSU has been, Alabama is at another level, and head-to-head, the Tide has won five in a row. It may not take a win over the Crimson Tide, or an SEC West championship, for Miles to stay on for 2017, but if LSU doesn't make a New Year's Six game, we may hear the same rumblings about his job status next December. It may not be justified, but many LSU fans believe that they should be competing for titles every year. That hasn't been the reality at LSU for a few seasons now.
1. Kevin Sumlin
It is hard to make a bigger splash in the SEC than beating Alabama in your first year in conference. Kevin Sumlin took over at Texas A&M ahead of the 2012 season, went 11-2, had a Heisman-winner at quarterback in Johnny Manziel, and beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. A pair of single-score losses to Florida and LSU kept the Aggies from making a national championship run, but the team finished No. 5 in the polls after destroying Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
The years following 2012 have seen some serious diminishing returns for the Aggies. The team went 9-4 in 2013, despite having Manziel at quarterback once again, and have now finished 8-5 for two years running. In four years, Sumlin's SEC record is just 17-15. Going over .500 with an SEC West schedule every season is commendable, but trending in the wrong direction is something that can kill a promising coaching tenure.
There are also plenty of rumblings about both Sumlin and Texas A&M considering a break-up. A few weeks ago, before the Philadelphia Eagles filled their opening, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that they were interested in the Aggies coach. Weeks before, in mid-December, reports emerged that chancellor John Sharp was considering firing Sumlin due to concerns about "internal direction of the program." Sharp called the report a "fairy tale," but it doesn't sound unreasonable. During the lead-up to bowl season, two former five-star quarterbacks—Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray—both left the program.