In relation to my previous post, here are the hot-seat coaches entering the 2017 season.
Todd Graham, Arizona State
Graham (39-26 overall) came to Tempe in 2012 following a brief, controversial tenure at Pittsburgh. While his first three years at ASU were a resounding success — winning two bowl games during that time period — Graham’s program has since gone in reverse, posting losing records in the past two seasons. The primary problems have been a porous secondary and numerous misses on the recruiting trail; Graham’s staff has struggled to keep the top Phoenix area talent home.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
A 44-21 record in five years is good, right? Not when you’re in the meat-grinder that is the SEC and when your teams have taken annual nosedives in November, which is why Sumlin occupies what could be the hottest seat in the nation right now. The Aggies have finished 8-5 for the past three years despite starting undefeated all three times, and while Sumlin continues to flex his recruiting muscle, fans are getting restless. A&M hasn’t finished above fourth place in the SEC West since Sumlin’s debut season in 2012, when his offense was led by Johnny Manziel….say, whatever happened to that guy, anyways?
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Turns out College Station isn’t the only town in Texas where fans are disgruntled. Kingsbury (24-26 overall) had a sweet homecoming when he came back to Lubbock in 2013, this time as a head coach after previously being a record-smashing QB at Tech in the early days of Mike Leach. However, he has had little consistent success since then, with only one bowl win and routinely terrible defenses. What else can you say about a team that can put up 50-plus points multiple times and still lost by double digits? Tech will always light up the scoreboard, but they simply haven’t had any type of sustained momentum under Kingsbury.
Paul Haynes, Kent State
Haynes (12-35 overall) simply hasn’t made much of an impact at his alma mater. A former defensive coordinator at Ohio State and Arkansas, Haynes has made a nice enough impact on that side of the ball. But the offense has been mediocre at best during his tenure, and the Golden Flashes have repeatedly lacked adequate athleticism at the skill positions. Haynes might be out of a gig if he can’t get the Flashes to their first bowl game since 2012.
Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
Hudspeth (24-31 overall), a Mississippi native, made a big splash when he was hired. His first three seasons were huge, helping lift the Ragin’ Cajuns to three straight bowl games for the first time in school history. However, the celebration was short-lived — the Cajuns had to vacate 22 wins due to the actions of former assistant coach David Saunders, who committed academic fraud in order to recruit otherwise-ineligible junior college players. Since then, the Cajuns have gone 10-15 in the past two years under Hudspeth, missing the postseason both times. And if that wasn’t enough, 13 Cajun players were arrested on misdemeanor theft charge earlier this summer, stemming from the dorm room robbery of a recently-dismissed player. Hudspeth might need a winning season to save his job and quiet the well-deserved noise surrounding the program.
David Bailiff, Rice
It’s easy to feel bad for the 59-year-old Bailiff (overall 56-69), who has built a historically-awful Rice program into a respectable and competitive team, even securing two 10-win seasons in 2008 and 2013. However, it’s safe to say that most of the magic has been lost, with the Owls having lost 13 of their past 17 games; they started last season 0-6 before stumbling to a 3-9 record. Bailiff might need to win big this season in order to keep his job under new athletic director Neil Brodeur.
Sean Kugler, UTEP
Kugler (18-31 overall) is a UTEP alum with NFL connections, which is a nice start. He’s earned kudos from the El Paso community by recruiting lots of local kids, but the Miners have honestly been mediocre under Kugler’s watch. A 2014 bowl game notwithstanding, UTEP hasn’t been able to take advantage of Kugler’s smash-mouth brand of football. They have particularly struggled on defense, and bringing in veteran coordinator Tom Mason last year did little to improve the situation.
Matt Wells, Utah State
Wells (28-25), a Utah State alum, took over the program after a record-setting 2012 season, which earned then-coach Gary Andersen a job at Wisconsin. Wells took the Aggies into uncharted territory in the Mountain West, but they have been up-and-down since. USU won 19 games in their first two years of Wells’s tenure, but in the two years since, the Aggies have gone 9-16, including a below-.500 mark in the conference. Logan is a hard place to win consistently; has Wells’s program hit its peak already?