The college football head coaching carousel continued to turn last week when Oregon State’s Gary Anderson quit and was released from his contractual obligations by the school. Anderson isn’t the first college coach to abruptly leave in season and he definitely won’t be the last either. At the halfway mark of the regular season, it’s the perfect time to take a look at the coaches who appear to be most at risk of losing their jobs. Here is a look at the top four college football head coaches on the hot seat right now.
Mike Riley, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska looked completely unprepared in its 56-14 loss to Ohio State. Riley was on the hot seat heading into the week and the blowout loss only made his seat that much warmer. The Huskers already fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst last month so the writing could be on the wall for Riley. Nebraska has two weeks before they visit Purdue on October 28th. The fact that Riley hasn’t been fired yet could be an indication his job is safe at least until the Huskers play the Boilermakers. Beyond that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Riley is fired in the very near future.
The challenge here is that Riley just got an extension. Would the Cornhuskers really can him at this point? There have been college football rumors that Nebraska is eyeing Mike Leach. If things continue like this, they’ll likely make a change.
Butch Jones, Tennessee Volunteers
Jones was on the hot seat when Tennessee lost 41-0 at home to Georgia a couple of weeks ago. His situation became even worse when the Volts lost a must-win game to South Carolina 15-9 at home. Tennessee won’t make a change this week but it’s only going to get worse for Jones and company before it gets better with Alabama on the schedule this week. The writing might already be on the wall for Jones by the time the Vols enter a three-game stretch that includes visiting Kentucky, hosting Southern Miss and then visiting Missouri. It will be interesting to see whether Jones maintains his job at Tennessee throughout the month of November. He’s going to be fired at some point. The question is when.
Jim Mora, UCLA Bruins
The UCLA defense was absolutely shredded in last week’s 47-30 loss to the Arizona Wildcats. The Bruins are now 3-3 heading in to a home game with Oregon but their schedule will get a lot more difficult after that with road games against Washington, Utah and USC. Some think that Mora’s $11 million buyout is substantial enough that UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero won’t be willing to spend the money to get rid of him. That perception might change if the Bruins continue to struggle throughout the month of November.
Brett Bielema, Arkansas Razorbacks
In terms of buyout dollars, it turns out that Bielema’s contract includes a $10.2 million buyout that is far less than was expected when he took the job at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have lost seven of their last 10 games dating back to last season so the news that Bielema’s buyout is far lower than previously thought is relevant news. Arkansas will face a tough schedule beginning with a home date against Auburn and then travelling to Ole Miss and LSU in two of their next three games. Bielema is clearly on the hot seat heading in to this stretch and if his program continues to falter, the Razorbacks could decide to pull the plug and fire him before the season comes to an end.
The challenge for Jeff Long and Arkansas is that Bielema has a $15.4 million buyout right now. That number would drop to $11.7 million if they fired him on January 1st of 2018, but that’s still a huge number. The $15.4 million buyout would be the biggest buyout in SEC history if the Razorbacks were in fact to can him and go down that road. Les Miles’ buyout was $12.9 and Kevin Sumlin’s would be $11.25 million if he was fired this college football year.
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