There were close to two dozen coaching changes this offseason with nearly half of those coming from Power 5 schools.
While it’s too early speculate how many openings will occur this season, here are a few names that could feel the heat if things don’t go well in 2018.
David Beaty, Kansas
The Buzz: It’s been nearly a decade since Kansas football last sported a winning season and during that time five different coaches have guided the Jayhawks program to 28-93 record. For his part, Beaty is 3-33 since taking over back in 2015. While the program has shown improvements on the recruiting trail under Beaty, those resources have yet to produce tangible results on the field. Making matters worse, athletics director Sheahon Zenger was fired in May by Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod, who stated that football was a primary concern moving forward. Beaty needs a glimmer of hope this season if he doesn’t want to wind up following Zenger out the door.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
The Buzz: When Kingsbury was hired in 2013 he brought instant excitement to the Texas Tech fan base fueled by an 8-5 season that saw the program’s first top 10 ranking since 2008. Since then, however, the Red Raiders have struggled to remain relevant in a competitive Big 12. With a record of 30-33 in his five seasons in Lubbock, only Kansas and Iowa State have worse records during that period. Under Kinsgbury, Texas Tech hasn’t finished better than fifth in the Big 12 with a record of 16-29 in conference play. His current contract runs through 2020 but another disappointing season could force the school to take a hard look at the future of the program.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
The Buzz: Only Alabama’s Nick Saban (11 seasons), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (5) and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops (5) have spent more time at their respective SEC schools than Mason (4) and in that short period of time the Commodores are 18-31 overall including a 6-26 record in conference action. While the program has consistently set high academic marks during Mason’s tenure, the performance on the field has put the 44-year-old’s future in doubt.
Ed Orgeron, LSU
The Buzz: Orgeron quickly ingratiated himself with the LSU fan base after leading the Tigers to a 6-2 finish following the firing of longtime coach Les Miles in 2016. Yet despite calls by some to hire a coach with a more national appeal, LSU AD Joe Alleva made the choice to bring back the 56-year-old Louisiana native on a permanent basis in 2017. A stunning early loss to Troy on Sept. 30 started a swell of criticism directed at Orgeron’s abilities to direct a program of this magnitude. With a 2018 schedule that is one of the toughest in the country including a neutral-site opener against Miami and road games against Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M, there’s no question that things could turn sideways quickly for the Tigers and Orgeron.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
The Buzz: One of Josh Whitman’s first moves as athletics director at Illinois was to hire Lovie Smith as the program’s next football coach. Smith arrived at the school with an impressive mix of college and pro coaching experience on his resume including leading the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI in 2006. However it’s been slow going for the Illini which are 5-19 in Smith’s first two seasons including 2-16 in the competitive Big Ten. It still seems too early for any decision on his future especially with the large financial commitment made by the school (Smith signed a 6-year, $29 million deal in 2016).
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