The job of a college football coach is to do a number of things: win games, keep his players disciplined, and represent the school with honor. When a coach fails to do so, the spotlight rests solely on one person, and it is always the head coach. Often, college football fans are impatient. They want to win regularly and become a national powerhouse, to put it simply. The fans are always quick to turn on the coach, therefore putting him on the "hot seat."
Each year there is a handful of teams that have the microscope hovering over the coach, ready to catch his costly mistake. Those coaches have one to two years to have a successful season, or they will be looking for a new job. As usual, this college football season is chalk full of coaches sweating it out on the hot seat.
John. L. Smith, Michigan State
Every year it seems Michigan State is going to take the role of Cinderella in college football. Then reality hits, and it has been hitting John. L. Smith hard. Smith has a .500 record in 3 years since taking the reigns at MSU. After beating Notre Dame in 2005, the Spartans season took a turn for the worse as they finished 5-6 with only two Big Ten wins. If John L. Smith can't get the Spartans to a bowl game with star quarterback Drew Stanton in 2006, he may not have a seat to sit on when 2007 rolls around.
Chuck Amato, North Carolina State
Entering his 7th season at NC State, Amato is a mediocre 43-28. Mario Williams, John McCargo, and Manny Lawson were all on the defensive line at NC State last year. Why is that so important? All three of those players were drafted in the 1st round, and still Amato and the Wolfpack couldn't get over the hump. They tripped into a bowl game after taking on Maryland in a winner-take-bowl-bid game at home. The criticism has always followed Amato when it comes to his teams and their lack of discipline and organization. Amato has some rebuilding to do on the defensive line, and time is running very thin.
Rich Brooks, Kentucky
In three years at Kentucky, Brooks has just four SEC victories. Wins against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State are not what the people at Kentucky are looking for. Brooks has yet to contend with rival Louisville, or contend as an SEC frontrunner since his arrival. After inheriting a 7-5 Kentucky team, recruiting restrictions put UK football into a spiral. A new head coach may be the only way to climb out of the hole they have dug themselves into.
Lloyd Carr, Michigan
Yes, Carr who has over 100 wins at Michigan, might be seeing his last years there. Carr can recruit with the best of them, but year in and year out, the 5 star recruits have underperformed when they are needed most. He is heading down John Cooper Avenue. Cooper, Ohio State's former coach, could not beat rival Michigan. Cooper then lost his job to Jim Tressel in 2001. Carr is 1-4 against OSU since Tressel has taken over. That will not stand at UM. He needs to beat the Buckeyes and/or the Fighting Irish to save his job this year. Carr has shown that when it comes to the big game, he isn't the coach that a prominent football team like Michigan is hoping to have for the future.
Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M
Franchione has disappointed some of the best college football fans the past three years. Suffering crushing losses by huge margins to Texas and Oklahoma have put Franchione on the hot seat. Two losing seasons and an embarrassing bowl loss to Tennessee in 2004 have people wondering if this once major contender needs a new coach.
John Bunting, North Carolina
Bunting has been on the hot seat at North Carolina for a few years now, though he had big wins last year at home against Boston College and at NC State. The 2004 upset of Miami may be the reason he has the job currently. However UNC hasn't been a factor since 2000 when he had Julius Peppers and David Thornton on defense. If Bunting doesn't produce a winner this year, UNC may have a heading coaching slot open in 2007. However, a big win over Miami, Notre Dame, or NC State may secure his job for another year yet again.
Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Pinkel took over at Missouri in 2001. Since then, he has had very moderate success at MU, leading his team to a bowl game two out of the past three years. However they will be without star quarterback Brad Smith in 2006. Losses last year to New Mexico, Kansas, and Kansas State angered many fans. A huge question mark is who can replace Brad Smith in offensive production. Pinkel knows that the Big XII North has never been more up for grabs. With Texas and Oklahoma in the South, the North has recently been sending a mediocre team to the conference title game. Missouri has consistently been losing their chance to represent the North in the championship game with late-season losses. If Pinkel fails to qualify for a bowl game this year, his seat will be sizzling next year.
Houston Nutt, Arkansas
Is this is the year? Arkansas finally has the pieces put together. Star running back Darren McFadden and star recruit Mitch Mustain at quarterback will be in the Arkansas backfield, ready to give teams fits in upcoming seasons. Nevertheless, if the Hogs fail to finish near the top of the SEC West, Nutt will be right where he was last year, on the hot seat at Arkansas.
Dirk Koetter, Arizona State
Koetter may not be on the verge of losing his job, but he is definitely being looked at with close eyes at Arizona State. With two quarterbacks who have NFL talent currently on the roster, Arizona State is in the same boat as Arkansas. They have talent, but will their coach be successful at preparing his team for meaningful games? ASU has yet to contend in the PAC-10 since the USC dynasty started. Koetter has been criticized for his lack of focus on defense and his debatable halftime adjustments.
Brady Hoke, Ball State
Ball State had 16 players suspended last year due to a NCAA violations involving book loans. Hoke has gone 10-24 in 3 years, and needs to improve upon a defense and offense that were both ranked last in the Mid-American Conference. Hoke and the Cardinals need to contend in the MAC in the next few years if he wants to stay as coach at Ball State. If his players stay out of trouble, he may have the team to secure his job.
Fisher DeBerry (Air Force), Larry Coker (Miami), Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), and Al Groh (Virginia) just missed the list.