We have a few months to wait until the 2018 college football season gets going. For most programs, that means hope springs eternal. However, a few fan bases are just looking forward to finding out who their next coach will be.
Entering 2018, there are fewer of those hopeless situations. Only a few head coaches are definitely on the hot seat heading into the season, and most could absolutely turn it around.
However, there are a number of coaches at big programs that could be on the outside looking in if things don’t take a step forward this season.
Here are seven college football coaches that could be fired in 2018.
The first one is on a seat that can’t get any hotter. The others could go either way based on how the year goes.
David Beaty – Kansas
Beaty was an unconventional hire at the time, jumping up from his job as Texas A&M wide receivers coach to land the Kansas HC job. It was one of the hardest jobs in the Power Five when he took it, and he is now 3-33 through three season, with one Big 12 win to his name. Short of a giant step forward, and likely a bowl berth, Beaty is probably done.
Kliff Kingsbury – Texas Tech
With his offensive background and young age at the time of his hire, Kliff Kingsbury made a splash right away. And things started off pretty well: the Red Raiders went 8-5 in his first season.
He’s failed to really build on things from there. Tech fell to 4-8 in 2014, and after a 7-6 record the following year, are now coming off of back-to-back sub-.500 seasons.
Lovie Smith – Illinois
Illinois hasn’t been in the same dire straits as Kansas, but the Illini have really struggled to gain any sort of footing in the Big Ten, even as local rival Northwestern cruises along and Purdue just had a big bounce back season.
Lovie Smith, a long-time NFL head coach, was an unconventional hire at the time, and he hasn’t paid dividends thus far. Entering year three, Smith is just 5-19. A recruiting uptick in the class of 2019 could help, but if Illinois has another poor season it may not matter.
Kalani Sitake – BYU
BYU is a very unique situation and not an easy job for which to hire. Kalani Sitake seemed like a solid fit as a replacement for Bronco Mendenhall, who left for the Virginia job. After a 9-4 first season, Sitake seemed to be rolling, but he followed it up with a 4-9 season in 2017. The sheer difficulty of nailing a coaching hire at BYU definitely helps him, as does his status as an alumnus, but the Cougars have much hire expectations.
Derek Mason – Vanderbilt
Derek Mason, a former Stanford assistant, was brought in to give the SEC’s top academic program a similar treatment to what Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw have established in Palo Alto. There has definitely been growth, and Mason has understandably been given plenty of rope, given what a difficult situation he was handed after James Franklin’s departure, which left Vandy’s recruiting in shambles.
The Commodores reached a bowl in 2016, but fell back to 5-7 last season. There’s a chance he could survive another sub-.500 season, but eventually Vanderbilt brass will want to get to a place where they’re competitive in the SEC East and going bowling pretty much every year.
Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson is a very good football coach, with a signature style that works more often than not, and has a pretty good thing going at Georgia Tech. The last few years have seen yo-yoing records, with the Yellow Jackets going from 11-3 to 3-9 to 9-4 to 5-6 in four seasons.
There is a concern that Johnson’s tenure is starting to run its course. There is also an argument to be made that a school in the heart of Atlanta, one of the most talent-rich areas of the country, may not be reaching its ceiling by running Johnson’s spread option offense. Of course, he could rebound and win 10 games this year, and in that case he’s not going anywhere.
Ed Orgeron – LSU
Ed Orgeron is extremely easy to root for, and him getting the LSU job after taking over as interim coach during the 2016 season was a great story. Coach O did a very nice job as steward of the Tigers, and USC before them, taking on the same role after Lane Kiffin was fired in 2013. There are still serious questions about his ability to lead his own program, especially one the level of LSU. He wasn’t hired to win eight or nine games.
Orgeron is an ace recruiter, but LSU’s recruiting has tailed off a bit in the last couple of years; the school is still pulling in plenty of talent, but it used to be a mortal lock for top five to 10 classes, and that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The offense remains a major concern, as it was under Les Miles. He brought in Matt Canada from Pitt to much fanfare, but he is gone after just one season, replaced by internal hire Steve Ensminger. Time will tell if he will be the guy to bring the offense into the 21st century, but considering he has been on staff in various roles since 2010, it isn’t the most forward-thinking move.