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Hot seat? Fire building for these 5 CFB coaches

Sportsnaut
Sep 5, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Geoff Collins reacts after a call during the game against the Clemson Tigers during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska’s firing of Scott Frost serves as a testament to the short leash for Power 5 head coaches.

Cutthroat? Yeah, that applies.

The Cornhuskers, miserable in one-score games since Frost took over, fired a native son who quarterbacked the program to its last national championship 25 years ago, and did so less than a month before his $15 million buyout halved.

Early-season divorces may become the new trend. Nebraska’s decision to move on from Frost was only a season after USC split with Clay Helton following Week 2, a decision made by a brass seeking a running start in pursuit of then-Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley.

Here are five coaches who are approaching win-or-walking papers territory:

–Neal Brown, West Virginia

Brown replaced a veritable legend in Larry Blakeney at Troy and coached the Trojans to unprecedented heights with three straight double-digit-win seasons and bowl game wins.

Stabilizing the Mountaineers after the turbulent tenure of Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia has proven more challenging. The Mountaineers have yet to win more than six games in any of Brown’s first three full seasons, and their only winning mark came in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

A West Virginia program that staked its reputation on explosive offenses for the better part of two decades stagnated on that side of the ball in Brown’s first three years, but in two losses to start 2022, the Mountaineers are struggling defensively.

A week after surrendering 55 points to Kansas, a loss to Towson in Week 3 would be curtains for Brown in Morgantown.

–Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech

Deviating from the triple-option offense after Paul Johnson’s 2018 retirement has hardly gone as planned for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have averaged 16.7, 23.9 and 24 points per game in Geoff Collins’ three seasons as head coach, ranking Georgia Tech consistently in the bottom-third of Power 5 offenses.

The Yellow Jackets have put up 45 total points through the first two games of 2022, and that number may prove skewed as the season progresses with Georgia Tech registering 35 against FCS opponent Western Carolina.

Each of Collins’ first three teams have finished with three wins to match the worst record of Johnson’s entire tenure. A fourth straight season of such futility is grounds for a shake-up.

–Herm Edwards, Arizona State

He’s still playing to win the game. But you might not know it.

Winning solves a lot of problems, but Arizona State simply has not won in big spots enough while under the pall of an NCAA investigation.

Allegations of recruiting violations preceded an exodus of assistant coaches in Edwards’ charge, and the Sun Devils underwent significant roster changes with transfer-portal departures. The turnover and investigation add an extra layer of malaise to a tenure that has seen Arizona State reach three bowl games under Edwards, but fail to reach a Pac-12 Championship Game in a down period for the conference.

Arizona State’s lopsided Week 2 loss at Oklahoma State reflected the Sun Devils’ struggles in marquee matchups under Edwards — and they have three such games on the upcoming slate with Utah, USC and Washington to start conference play.

–Bryan Harsin, Auburn

Perhaps an “Orange Out” upset of Penn State on Saturday night can spare a fella, but the Nittany Lions aren’t exactly championship material at the moment.

There was a time not long ago when suggesting a coach in just his second season occupied a hot seat may have seemed absurd, barring major malfeasance.

If it’s not enough to be little brother to the dynastic Alabama program, there’s also the notion that boosters and the athletic department have immediate national championship aspirations. That means patience among fans will drop proportionally to the rise in coaches’ paychecks.

Look no further than Florida State, which Auburn played for the 2013 season’s national title, and its split from Willie Taggart in 2019 after just 21 games.

For Harsin at Auburn, the hire looked like an odd fit from the outset. Harsin won consistently at his alma mater, Boise State, but outside of a tumultuous two years as an offensive coordinator at Texas and one season as head coach at Arkansas State, worked exclusively in the West.

A disastrous finish to 2021 with five straight losses and a less-than-inspiring 2-0 start to 2022, including a scraped-out 24-16 defeat of San Jose State, puts the heat on Harsin early. Auburn is seemingly losing ground to SEC counterparts Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State while still playing catch-up to Alabama and Georgia.

–Scott Satterfield, Louisville

Scott Satterfield’s tenure at alma mater Appalachian State elevated the program from FCS powerhouse to Top 25-caliber FBS program. His stint at Louisville has come nowhere near the same level of success, with the Cardinals enduring sub-.500 finishes after Satterfield’s 8-5 debut in 2019.

Beating UCF in Week 2 offers some reprieve, but a 31-7 loss at Syracuse in the opener set an ominous tone for Louisville’s season. The fact that the Cardinals continuing to scratch for a middling record while in-state rival Kentucky is on a meteoric ascent does Satterfield little favor — particularly with the Wildcats looming as the final opponent of this regular season.

–By Kyle Kensing, Field Level Media