The college football coaches hot seat rankings for Week 11 mark continuing problems for Jim Mora, Brian Kelly and Mark Helfrich.
Oregon and Notre Dame each fell to 3-6 with losses on Saturday, meaning the buzz around the futures of Mark Helfrich and Brian Kelly, respectively, will only grow louder as the regular season approaches an end. Will Helfrich and Kelly survive to right the ship? Much depends on variables that transcend wins and losses, like contract buyouts, relationships with the administration and the availability of successors sitting at the top of the ADs’ wish lists.
Which head coaches are fielding the most pressure to turn things around and improve plummeting job approval ratings? We break down who’s sitting on the hottest seats entering Week 11 of the 2016 season.
10. Mark Stoops, Kentucky (Last Week – 10)
Just don’t collapse down the stretch, coach, and you’ll be just fine. The Wildcats need one more win to become bowl-eligible and end any speculation about Stoops for this season. They darn near had that victory Saturday night in Lexington before squandering a fourth-quarter lead and falling to Georgia on a last-second field goal. Beat anyone, even Austin Peay in two weeks, and job security is a non-issue until the fall of 2017. Have an epic, albeit unlikely, meltdown to finish 5-7 and the administration is liable to experience its own meltdown.
9. Jim Mora, UCLA (9)
The 2016 season sunk deeper into the dumpster with Thursday’s loss in Boulder that edged the Bruins closer to their first bowl-less postseason in six years. It’s been a horrible year in Westwood, from the decline of the play on the field to the season-ending injury to Josh Rosen. The bloom is clearly off the rose of Mora, who’ll finish a second straight year as the skipper of an unranked team. But shielded by an eight-digit buyout, it might be a fantasy to expect a change in leadership this quickly.
8. Dave Doeren, NC State (7)
Nice effort, Wolfpack, especially in shutting down Dalvin Cook. But the record will show you blew a second-half lead to Florida State to fall for the fourth consecutive week. NC State was unable to close at home, so it’ll enter the final three-week stretch a game below .500 and needing to win two against Syracuse, Miami and rival Carolina just to qualify for a bowl game. Doeren is now 7-22 in four seasons of ACC play, and he could be vulnerable if this Week 10 loss haunts his kids for the rest of the month.
7. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (8)
The end of the regular season cannot come soon enough for RichRod and his Wildcats. Arizona suffered a historically lopsided throttling at the hands of Washington State Saturday, bowing 69-7 in Pullman. A year after going 7-6, the Cats are winless in the Pac-12 and already eliminated from bowl contention. Rodriguez likely survives this season’s collapse, which has been impacted by injuries. The situation has unraveled so quickly in Tucson, that 2017 could be a win-or-else scenario for the once-untouchable coach.
6. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (6)
Mason and his Commodores earned a moral victory by nearly upsetting No. 9 Auburn at Jordan-Hare on Saturday. But are close calls enough for a third-year coach in danger of a third consecutive losing season? AD David Williams will have a lot to think about and evaluate in the coming weeks. Of course, Mason can end all of the speculation and lock down a fourth season by winning two of the final three games with Mizzou, Ole Miss and rival Tennessee to guarantee the program’s first bowl game since James Franklin was in Nashville.
5. Steve Addazio, Boston College (4)
Before anyone attempts to give Addazio a pass because Lamar Jackson was in the opposing huddle Saturday, it’s important to remember that both Duke and Virginia put scares into Louisville earlier in the year. The Cards bludgeoned BC on both sides of the ball in a rout that was never in doubt. Addazio, now 21-26 in his fourth season, will need to win two of the next three against Florida State, UConn and Wake Forest to avoid a second straight losing season.
4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech (3)
The Yellow Jackets were crushed by Carolina, 48-20, to snap a two-game winning streak. And while Tech is still a game above .500 with three to play, Saturday’s lopsided loss was further proof that its winning record is largely built on the softest portion of the schedule. The Jackets must capture one of the final three games with Va Tech, Virginia and Georgia to avoid a second straight losing season. But even if the program earns a bowl berth at 6-6, don’t be shocked if an interim coach is on the sidelines for that finale.
3. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame (5)
The misery continued for Kelly and his Irish who are one more loss away from finishing below .500 for just the 14th time in school history. Notre Dame dropped to 3-6 with a one-point loss to Navy in a game in which it was unable to stop quarterback Will Worth on the ground when it mattered most. This season in South Bend was shot a long time ago, regardless of what happens in the final three games with Army, Va Tech and USC. It’ll be up to AD Jack Swarbrick to decide if Kelly—or someone else—is best suited to turn this mess around.
2. Mark Helfrich, Oregon (2)
For the third time this season, the Ducks were blown out by a Pac-12 opponent, failing to put up much of a fight against USC in the Coliseum. Oregon is 1-6 since opening the year 2-0, and on the brink of missing the postseason for the first time since 2004. It’s possible that the Ducks won’t win another game, including in the Civil War finale with Oregon State. Remember, Helfrich also disappointed in 2015, so his rising temperature isn’t singularly related to this year’s collapse since Week 3.
1. Charlie Strong, Texas (1)
Will a return to the postseason after last year’s hiatus be enough to earn Strong a fourth year in Austin? That might be what the administration is forced to contemplate now that the Horns have won back-to-back games over Baylor and Texas Tech. Texas is 5-4 and moving in the right direction, at least on offense. And with a trip to Kansas still to come on Nov. 19, it’ll take an epic stumble to not achieve bowl-eligibility. If nothing else, these past two weeks have, if nothing else, complicated matters for the athletic department.