Which coaches are on the hottest seat and under the most pressure after Week 9 of the college football season?
The hot seat rankings are done two ways. First, the five coaches who are in huge trouble and need a win for job security, and then the five coaches who won’t get canned, but could use something positive … fast.
The plus side? One win changes around the perceptions in a big, big hurry.
Who else needs a win really, really soon?
Coaches On The Hot Seat: Win, Or Else
5. Lovie Smith, Illinois
Nah … he’s not going anywhere. But so far this really, really isn’t working.
It still might, but it’s taking a long time to get there.
2017 was awful, but that was because the program underwent a massive youth movement. That’s fine, but there’s supposed to be a little bit of something, anything to show improvement the year after.
Instead, the Illinois have lost five of the last six games – with the only win coming over Rutgers – and with the defense getting worse and worse. Smith’s calling card is as an elite defensive mind, and yet as Year Three is winding down, his D is getting torched, giving up 46 points or more in four of the last five games.
After losing at Maryland 63-33 – the Illini made the Terps look like Tom Brady was slinging it around – Illinois is now 8-24 under Smith and 3-20 in Big Ten play. The game against Minnesota next week in Champaign is a big deal.
4. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa
The home loss to Tulane stings.
The Golden Hurricane went to bowl games in Montgomery’s first two seasons, but they were 2-10 last year, and this season they have yet to beat an FBS team, starting out with a win over Central Arkansas before dropping seven straight.
The team has been competitive, but this is a big, big game coming up at home against UConn. Lose that, and with at Memphis, at Navy, and SMU to close, it might get ugly for a team without a whole lot of offensive pop.
3. Tony Sanchez, UNLV
Yeah, he lost his quarterback, Armani Rogers, but that’s not why the defense is giving up 50 points or more in three of the last four games.
This was expected to be the season the Rebels were going to be a player in the Mountain West, with a bowl a near certainty. Instead, UNLV has beaten UTEP – who hasn’t won a game since 2016 – and Prairie View A&M.
This will be the fourth straight losing season under Sanchez, and it’s possible it could be the worst yet. The Rebels will like be double-digit underdogs against Fresno State, at San Diego State, at Hawaii and Nevada.
2. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
The team really is playing better.
The offense has been in games, and it didn’t have any luck in close-call losses to Virginia Tech and Syracuse, but now the team is 1-6 and all but certain to come up with a second straight season with three wins or fewer.
It’s his seventh year at the helm, and this last month will matter. On the plus side, this can turn around fast. Win November, and all will be fine.
His Tar Heels will beat Western Carolina, but they have to deal with Georgia Tech up next, and they have the rivalry battles with Duke and NC State.
1. Chris Ash, Rutgers
And here we go.
After failing to score more than 17 points in a game since beating Texas State 35-7 in the opener, the Rutgers offense has to show a sign of life over the final four games. Ash needs his team to put up a fight and … and …
At Wisconsin – against an angry team coming off a loss.
Michigan, Penn State, at Michigan State.
Those are the final four games of the season, and the Scarlet Knights will lose all four games by a combined total of at least 100 points.
After a week off, there needs to be a big surprise.