With the 2017-18 college football season officially kicking off, there is lots of pressure for some big-name coaches at storied programs to win, and win now.
Some coaches may have had some past success, but as with all things in sports and business, its a case of what-have-you done-for-me-lately kind of world.
Below are the top five head coaches who may be on the hotseat this season.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: 0-2. Such a small number, but if you’re a Michigan fan, that zero in the win column versus your most hated rival from the south in the Ohio State Buckeyes, stings as bad as last year’s double overtime loss in Columbus, 30-27.
While having a 1-1 mark vs. in-state rival and “little brother”, Michigan State is nice. It’s all about beating the Scarlet and Gray. This year’s tilt is in Ann Arbor, with a real chance of coming into the game with one or two losses.
With a season opener vs. Florida and big games vs. Penn State and at Wisconsin, if Harbaugh can’t beat Ohio State this year, look for that hot seat to turn into a blast furnace.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: At South Bend, both expectations and academic standards are high, as it is championship or bust at Notre Dame. Sadly, it those two factors may lead to head coach Brian Kelly’s ouster.
Despite leading the Fighting Irish to the 2012 BCS title game—and ultimately getting destroyed by Alabama, 42-14—many can blame ND’s traditionally tough schedule, rigid academic standards or refusal to join a conference, but the main reason why Kelly and the Irish struggle is that they overrate themselves every year.
Notre Dame can sell The Golden Dome, The Four Horseman, Rudy and Knute Rockne to the grandparents and fathers of prospective recruits, but today’s generation cares more about flashy uniforms, Insta-fame and playing on Sundays. It also doesn’t help that Notre Dame has some of the most challenging academic standards and hasn’t been nationally relevant since the late nineties.
On top of this, Notre Dame historically plays one of the hardest schedules in college football with absurdly high expectations for championships every year, 2017 may be the year that those ultimately are what may cause Kelly to lose his job.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: There is football, and then there is SEC football. There is just something DIFFERENT about how football is watched and played south of the Mason-Dixon line. Unfortunately, for Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones, said passion and fervor could be the reason why he may be fired.
It doesn’t help that Tennessee plays in the same SEC East division as national title contender Georgia and long-time nemesis Florida, but also has to deal with lofty expectations of trying to win the nation’s premier conference that includes a crimson-colored juggernaut in Alabama.
With trips to Gainesville, Tuscaloosa, Columbia and a nationally-televised non-conference season opener against Georgia Tech, there is no rest for Jones and his Vols.
Jim Mora Jr., UCLA: How is it that a coach that has a Heisman Trophy candidate of a quarterback in Josh Rosen, a 41-24 record in Westwood and a 3-2 mark vs hated crosstown rival USC, possibly be on the hot seat? Answer. Because it’s Los Angeles.
In a city that defines success by glamour, star power and championships, UCLA may as well be the rich adopted foster child.
You have the projected Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Sam Darnold at SoCal, the Clayton Kershaw-led World Series favorite Los Angeles Dodgers, the resurgent Lakers led by rookie and fellow UCLA alum Lonzo Ball, rumors of Lebron coming to Hollywood, oh..and you have NFL football back in the City of Angels for the first time in a quarter century in the form of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, THEN you have the Bruins.
Ouch! I know it’s not fair, but Los Angeles is a different sports culture entirely by itself.
Mora Jr. needs a big-time win over USC and to at least make it to the PAC-12 title game this year, or risk getting shown the door in Westwood.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: The second SEC coach on this list, Kevin Sumlin no longer has the likes of Johnny Football and Mike Evans to mask his mediocre coaching skills. While it’s fair to say that Sumlin helped make Aggies football an attractive brand to watch nationally, they just can’t seem to get over that proverbial hump of winning the BIG game.
Ever since the forementioned Manziel and Evans departed for the NFL, what big primetime ranked matchups have they won? Playing in the uber-competitive SEC is one thing, playing and recruiting in the football-mad haven that is the Lone Star State is another.
You have the likes of Nick Saban to compete against within the convergence and Tom Herman from a resurgent Texas in-state, which makes Sumlin a likely fire if A&M doesn’t compete on and off the field.