Fired or Retained?

Given that we are eight weeks into the college football season, I’ve decided to write an article forecasting what the month of November (and early December) might look like in the coaching industry, summarizing whether coaches on the hot seat at this point seem likely to either be fired or retained at the season’s end.

Steve Addazio, Boston College:  Fired

Addazio has struggled greatly this season, as the Golden Eagles are winless in-conference, and face a difficult schedule at the season’s end. It’s gotten so bad in Chestnhut Hill that fans have created an @FireAddazioBC twitter account! Even though an anonymous board member said to expect that Addazio will last the season, I’m expecting him to be fired before the season’s end, primarily so AD Brad Bates can get started with the inevitable coaching search. Since B.C. is a power conference job, there will be a decent crop of candidates who will have interest in the job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bates tried to lure back Don Brown for the head job, as the Eagles’ defense has tailed off significantly since he left for Michigan this past December. They could also target Pete Carmichael Jr., an alum who has run the New Orleans Saints’ offense since 2009.

David Bailiff, Rice:  Retained

Bailiff’s Owls have had a brutal season. Rice just got their first win this season against FCS opponent Prairie View A&M, which is pretty embarrassing since its already mid-October. On the upside, Rice has several winnable games left on their schedule, including FAU, Charlotte, and UTEP. Bailiff’s past success does give him a longer leash than some other coaches on the hot seat, so I’m expecting him to return as Rice’s head coach in 2017, likely with a revamped coaching staff.

Ron Caragher, SJSU:  Fired

Caragher has never really been able to get it rolling at San Jose State, as the team has slowly deteriorated since Caragher took over for Mike McIntyre in 2013. This season, the Spartans have suffered some brutal losses, most notably the 42-3 beatdown they just took from SDSU this past week. Their remaining schedule is rather difficult, with an away game against Boise State and a home game against Air Force. I’m expecting Caragher to be fired after one of those two games, so that AD Gene Bleymaier can get a head-start on a coaching search. Give McIntyre’s success at Colorado, I wouldn’t be shocked if they target someone from his coaching tree, perhaps Eagles QB Coach John DeFilippo, Colorado OC Brian Lindgren, or UNLV DC Kent Baer.

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois:  Fired

If this were just about any other scenario, I’d expect Carey to get another season. Yes, NIU has played terribly this year, one game away from being ineligible for a bowl game. But Carey has had a considerable amount of success since he took over from Dave Doeren in 2012. With that said, I’m expecting Carey to be shown the door by AD Sean Frazier, who has been reluctant to provide Carey with the tools he needs to succeed as a head coach. Along with campus and funding issues, Frazier failed to give Carey the sufficient funds to keep ex-DC Jay Niemann and several other coaches who departed last offseason; a viable signal of distrust between Carey & the administration. As such, I’m expecting AD Sean Frazier to hire a new head coach this offseason. The logical candidate here would be P.J. Fleck, an alum who has been very successful this year at Western Michigan, but its possible he’s waiting for a power conference job.

Paul Haynes, Kent State: Fired

Personally, I expected Kent State to hit the replug button after last season, but for some inexplicable reason the administration decided to retain Haynes for another year. To no surprise, the Golden Flashes have played awfully this year, making it all but guaranteed that Haynes will be shown the door sometime in the next month or so. It’s very possible that the administration looks to bring back retreads in Darrell Hazell or Doug Martin, both of whom had some success running the Kent State program.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon:  Retained

Helfrich has done a dreadful job as head coach this year. The Ducks are playing uninspired ball this year, and the staff struggled to settle on a starting quarterback until two weeks ago, giving true freshman Justin Herbert the job. With that said, unless former head man Chip Kelly is canned after one season in San Francisco, I’d be surprised if AD Rob Mullens shows Helfrich the door, given Oregon’s traditionally insular program. There are glimpses of light in Oregon’s defense, such as the gradual adjustment to Brady Hoke’s 4-3 defense, and the decent play at quarterback from Justin Herbert. As such, I’m expecting Helfrich to be retained, but start the 2017 season on the hot seat.

Doc Holliday, Marshall:  Retained

Marshall has played poorly this year, with only one FBS win against Florida Atlantic. However, Holliday has had considerable success in the past, and likely has a longer leash than many of the other coaches on this list. Furthermore, there are several winnable games left on their schedule, most notably Old Dominion and FIU. As such, I’m expecting Holliday to return in 2017, starting the year on the hot seat.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech:  Fired

To little surprise, Georgia Tech has underperformed this year, despite having a talented roster led by QB Justin Thomas. The administration recently hired alum Todd Stansbury to lead their athletics department, and I’m expecting him to want to start anew and hire his own head coach. I’m not entirely sure who would be on his shortlist, but he could look to alum and his former teammate Ken Whisenhunt, or possibly an experienced head coach such as Charlie Strong.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame:  Retained

On Saturday, AD Jack Swarbrick went to bat for his head coach, saying that Kelly won’t be coaching for his job this year. I believe he’s telling the truth, and that Kelly will return as Notre Dame’s head coach in 2017, likely on the hot seat. With that said, I’m expecting Kelly to make some changes to his staff, starting with a new defensive coordinator, perhaps Mike Elko from Wake Forest or Dave Aranda from LSU.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech:  Retained

This has not been the best season for Kliff Kingsbury at Tech. His team’s offense has been prolific, but his team’s defense has been atrocious, and I can’t see any scenario where DC David Gibbs returns next season. Kliff might very well be pointed for the blame, and rightfully so, but I’m guessing he’ll get one more year to right the ship, similar to dynamic between Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia this past offseason.

Sean Kugler, UTEP:  Fired

Although Kugler lead UTEP to the New Mexico bowl in 2014, he hasn’t been nearly as successful since, as the Miners are currently 2-5 on the year. Given how hard it is to win in El Paso, it’s possible that Kugler returns next year. But I’m expecting AD Bob Stull to part ways with Kugler and bring in a spread-type guy to run the team next year. Stull could look to Oregon QB/PGC David Yost, Montana HC Bob Stitt, and Texas Tech OC Eric Morris to replace Kugler.

Lance Leipold, Buffalo:  Retained

Although Leipold’s tenure at Buffalo has been very uninspiring– the Bulls are currently 1-6 on the year– I’m expecting him to be brought back as head coach next year, mostly because he’s still adjusting to the FBS level from his last job at Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he won a plethora of Division-3 national championships. With that said, I’m expecting him to start the 2017 season firmly on the hot seat, and changes in the program will definitely need to be made this offseason.

Chuck Martin, Miami (OH):  Fired

I’d make an argument that Martin’s tenure in Miami was doomed from the start; regardless, AD David Sayler needs to pull the plug and make a change in the program. The RedHawks are 2-6 on the year, and have four difficult games to end the season. As a result, I’m expecting Miami to lose out and fire Martin at the season’s end. I’m not sure where their coaching search would start, but it might not be the worst idea to see if alum Aaron Kromer would be interested in the top job. His coaching stock is at an all-time low given his battery charge and resultant suspension, and his nightmarish relationship with Jay Cutler when he ran the Bears’ offense.

Doug Martin, NMSU:  Fired

I expected Martin to be fired after last season, but similar to Kent State, New Mexico State’s administration gave Martin one more year to turn things around. To no surprise, the Aggies are 2-5, and are somewhat likely to lose every game from here on out. I’m not sure who AD Mario Moccia would target to replace Martin; he could reunite with Dale Lennon, who he hired nine years back to run Southern Illinois’s football team. He could also look to Frank Spaziani, the former Boston College head coach who returned to coaching this year as NMSU’s defensive coordinator. Other coaches with ties to the NMSU program include Gregg Brandon, Colorado School of Mines’ head coach, and Mike Locksley, currently an offensive analyst at Alabama.

Trent Miles, Georgia State:  Retained

Although Miles has seen limited success over the past two years at Georgia State, I’m expecting administration to retain him for at least the next two seasons. Miles inherited a very difficult job at Georgia State, and his credentials greatly exceed those of just about anyone who might replace him. With that said, expect some changes to be made on Miles’s staff.

Jim Mora, UCLA:  Retained

Mora has greatly underwhelmed this year at UCLA, as the Bruins currently stand at 3-5 despite having one of the best quarterbacks in college football. With that said, I’m expecting Mora to have a very long leash, as he’s been very successful in Westwood notwithstanding this current season.

Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic:  Fired

Normally, I would make an argument that Partridge deserves one more year to turn things around at FAU. But the Owls are winless in FBS play, and are generally uncompetitive in just about every game they’ve played. AD Patrick Chun could look to an up-and-coming assistant coach such as Eddie Gran, Luke Fickell, or James Coley; or he could see if his close friend Jim Tressel has any interest in the job.

Paul Petrino, Idaho:  Fired

Idaho is currently in the transition of moving from the FBS to the FCS, which is why I have serious doubts that Paul Petrino wants to be head coach beyond this season. Given the team’s lack of on-field success in recent years, AD Rob Spear might look to part ways with him after this season and bring in someone new to lead the program as they switch conferences. They could turn to Chris Tormey, formerly Wyoming’s head coach, for the head coaching gig, as he was a finalist for the job last time around.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky:  Retained

Although Stoops’s Wildcats started the year off poorly, they’ve rebounded in recent weeks, winning four of the last five games on their schedule. As such, I’m expecting Stoops to return as head coach next season, on the hot seat unless he can pull out a win against Georgia, Tennessee, and/or Louisville to end the season.

Charlie Strong, Texas:  Fired

Strong is basically a dead man walking in Austin. He’s been very unsuccessful since he took over for Mack Brown in 2013, and has never been able to gain the strong support of Longhorn boosters. His defense has been atrocious, resulting him in taking the defensive coordinator responsibilities away from Vance Bedford; even more embarrassingly, the defense hasn’t gotten much better since Strong took over play-calling. Like many others, I’m expecting AD Mike Perrin to solely target Tom Herman for the job, as he holds ties to Texas as a former G.A., and he’s done very well at Houston in past two years.

Mark Whipple, Massachusetts:  Retained

I’m not really sure what the expectations are up in Amherst. To much surprise, they declined to become a full-time member of the Mid-American Conference a year ago in favor of remaining independent, and have since gotten slammed on-field due to a strikingly difficult schedule. My guess is Whipple remains head coach while they figure out the program’s future direction, regardless of how the Minutemen play on-field for the rest of the season.


Not on the Hot Seat

Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Dave Doeren, N.C. State

Clay Helton, USC

Brad Lambert, Charlotte

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

Chad Morris, SMU

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona