College Football Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the Coaches Database Hot Seat Report, an updating list of college football head coaches with low job security. With each update, coaches will be added, removed and shuffled around based on their performance (note: coaches are listed alphabetically). Keep up with coaches changes that have already happened on our FBS Coaching Carousel page.
**UPDATED NOVEMBER 27, 2023**
Coaches from previous versions of the report that have already been let go.
- Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern): Fired on 7/10
- Mel Tucker (Michigan State): Fired on 9/27
- Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M): Fired on 11/12
- Andy Avalos (Boise State): Fired on 11/12
- Zach Arnett (Mississippi State): Fired on 11/13
- Dino Babers (Syracuse): Fired on 11/19
- Danny Gonzales (New Mexico): Fired on 11/25
- Tom Allen (Indiana): Fired on 11/26
- Dana Holgorsen (Houston): Fired on 11/26
- Dana Dimel (UTEP): Fired on 11/26
- Terry Bowden (Louisiana-Monroe): Fired on 11/26
- Rick Stockstill (Middle Tennessee): Fired on 11/27
YOUR CHAIR IS ON FIRE, SIR
Coaches at the end of the line at their current school.
Tom Allen (Indiana) Dino Babers (Syracuse)
- Neal Brown (West Virginia)
- New WVU AD Wren Baker kicked off his tenure with a men’s basketball scandal and has already signed himself up for one coaching search in 2024. But with the way things have been going in football, he should have another major coaching search to go through first. Brown is just 22-25 (14-21) through four seasons at the helm, with two low-level bowl appearances and zero .500+ Big 12 finishes. Another six-win season is not going to be enough, either – Brown is going to have to make a serious leap forward in 2023 to stick around. UPDATE: The Mountaineers’ got out to a hot 4-1 start and after some setbacks ended up with an 8-4 (6-3) record to go bowling for third time in five years under Brown. However, WVU ran Dana Holgorsen out of town with a 61-41 overall record and seven bowl bids in eight years, a far better tenure than than Brown can claim at this point.
Dana Dimel (UTEP) Danny Gonzales (New Mexico)
- Clark Lea (Vanderbilt)
- There’s been quite a shift in momentum within the Vanderbilt program over the last year, after Lea improved from 2-10 in year one to 5-7 in year two. This year’s squad really struggled, winless in the SEC and just 2-10 overall to finish in dead last. Vanderbilt has historically given its head football coaches more leeway than their SEC peers, otherwise we would have Lea in the “hottest” category. But an 0-8 SEC season is not something that can be ignored – Derek Mason never won more than 3 SEC games in any given season and made it to year seven, though he was fired after going 0-8.
- Sam Pittman (Arkansas)
- Coaches in the SEC don’t often keep their jobs after a last place finish, regardless of how long they have been in their position. Pittman was hired in 2020 and is moving in the wrong direction, improving to 9-4 in year two before dropping to 7 wins last year and no more than 5 this year. The Hogs scored a surprise OT victory over Florida to keep them from being winless in league play, but ultimately finished last in the SEC West at 1-7 (4-8 overall). UPDATE: Pittman will be the Arkansas head coach in 2024, the school confirmed in November, but will enter the season on perhaps the hottest seat in FBS.
THIS SEAT IS RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now, but that may not even be enough…
Andy Avalos (Boise State)
- Tony Elliott (Virginia)
- In just his second year in Charlottesville, Elliott is having as rough a go as nearly any head coach in FBS. The Cavaliers were just 3-7 last year, a -3 win change from 2021, and won just 3 games again in 2023 (3-9). UVA lost at home to James Madison, got smoked by Tennessee 49-13 and went just 2-6 in ACC play (though one win was a road upset over #10 UNC). UPDATE: Virginia is among the ACC’s worst is total defense and offense, the latter being Elliott’s speciality, and the vibes are pretty bad moving into year three of his tenure.
Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M)
- Jeff Hafley (Boston College)
- The Eagles won 6 games in each of their first two seasons under Hafley, but last year’s squad took some steps back and finished 3-9 (2-6). BC had the least productive offense in the ACC and while it was only their first season without bowl eligibility under Hafley, it is certainly not a great sign of things to come in 2023 and beyond. UPDATE: BC is bowl-bound at 6-6 (3-5) but finished the season losing three-straight winnable games and had one of the worst defenses – Hafley’s specialty – in the ACC.
Dana Holgorsen (Houston)
- Butch Jones (Arkansas State)
- Jones got a one-year extension in 2022 after his first year (2-10) and is locked in through 2026 despite only improving by one win last year to 3-9. Many mid-majors will have leeway with new head coaches but Arkansas State has been a very successful program the last two decades, with head coaches like Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Bryan Harsin and Blake Anderson parlaying their success into bigger jobs. So given the Red Wolves’ program stature and Jones’ previous head coaching experience, it’s pretty concerning that his tenure has started the way it has. It’s going to take more than a one-win improvement in 2023 to curb those fears in Jonesboro. UPDATE: The Red Wolves have one of the worst performing defenses in all of FBS and currently sit middle-of-the-pack in the Sun Belt at 4-4, but they were able to get a sixth victory to double last year’s win total and earn bowl eligibility for the first time under Jones.
- Mike Neu (Ball State)
- Neu has been the head coach at his alma mater for eight years now and holds an overall record of 37-56 (23-39 MAC). The Cardinals went bowling in 2020 and 2021, but outside of that have been non-factors in the MAC picture. Neu will return as head coach in 2024, per a statement from new AD Jeff Mitchell, but will certainly start the season on a rather warm seat coming off a third-straight losing campaign.
- Justin Wilcox (California)
- This was looking like a great hire back in 2019, with Wilcox leading the Bears to eight victories, including a big win over Illinois in the Redbox Bowl. What started as a steady build-up to 8-5 has turned more sour in Berkeley, with the Bears going just 10-18 over the last three years and falling back down to the lower half of the Pac-12. Wilcox has beaten Stanford three times in the last four years, which definitely counts for something, but Cal fans are not going to keep justifying full seasons of mediocre football with Big Game wins forever. UPDATE: The Bears won their final three games, including road victories over rivals Stanford and UCLA, to gain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2019.
WE’VE GOT OUR EYE ON YOU, COACH
Here are those guys that are having a rough year (or two… or three…) but aren’t in total danger. Yet.
- Mike Bloomgren (Rice)
- Just 16-39 through five seasons, Bloomgren’s Rice program will begin AAC competition in 2023 and wins are going to be even harder to come by. The Owls are coming off their best year under Bloomgren, sneaking into the postseason despite only winning 5 games – they lost the LendingTree Bowl by two touchdowns to drop to 5-8 (3-5). Bloomgren is getting his shot to turn things around in the new league, but AD Joe Karlgaard will have a much better job to sell this winter if he decides to make a change. UPDATE: The Owls have been up and down this year but finished middle of thee AAC pack at 4-4 (6-6 overall).
- Don Brown (UMass)
- Brown is in just his second year back at UMass, but things are bad enough to include the 68-year-old coach on this list. The Minutemen went 1-11 last year and 3-9 this year, with the defense allowing the most points per game in all of FBS. His first tenure came when UMass was a FCS program, so this is Brown’s first FBS head coaching gig despite having a lot of success at the lower level. He led UMass to a national runner-up finish in 2006, part of a two-year stretch where the team went 23-5 overall.
- Thomas Hammock (Northern Illinois)
- Now in his fifth year with NIU, Hammock is on his way to a fourth sub-.500 season with a 1-4 start. In their second game, the Huskies scored just 11 points in a home loss to FCS Southern Illinois. Their season-opening win at Boston College is looking less and less impressive as the season goes on and the Eagles continue to struggle. Outside of the 9-5 (6-2) record and Cure Bowl appearance in 2021, Hammock’s tenure has been pretty rough in DeKalb. UPDATE: The Huskies needed to win their last two to get bowl eligible and they did it, finishing 6-6 (5-3 MAC) to reach the postseason for the second time under Hammock.
- Mike Houston (East Carolina)
- The Pirates just completed year five of the Mike Houston Era and, after going to back-to-back bowl games, saw a major regression back to the bottom of the AAC. ECU finished just 2-10 (1-7) after winning 15 games in the last two years. The contract extension he signed in 2021 runs through the 2026 season and stipulates that the school will owe him $1.4M per remaining year as a buyout if he is terminated without cause. Houston was AD Jon Gilbert’s first hire at ECU, with both of them starting in December 2018.
COACHES THAT ARE SAFE (FOR NOW)
This section is comprised of coaches who were previously in one of the above categories this season or are just starting to feel heat but are not yet in any real danger of being fired.
- Dave Aranda (Baylor)
- There has been a remarkable change in tide for Aranda, who improved the Bears from 2-7 in his first year to 12-2 in year two, winning the Big 12 championship and the Sugar Bowl to finish ranked in the Top 10. There were plenty of rumors about Aranda being a candidate for other jobs but ultimately he stayed in Waco and things regressed to 6-7 (4-5) in 2022. This year’s squad was even worse, losing 9 of 12 and getting only two wins in Big 12 play to finish tied for 11th. UPDATE: Baylor confirmed that Aranda will retain his position for 2024, but we will be moving him up the list before next year kicks off.
- Maurice Linguist (Buffalo)
- The Bulls took a step back in 2023 after going bowling in 2022, finishing just 3-9 overall and 3-5 in MAC play. Linguist had big shoes to fill taking over for Lance Leipold in 2021, but after a slower first season he led Buffalo to a 6-6 regular season last year plus a win over Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl. Excitement was high for the future, so the -4 shift in win total this season was a major disappointment. Linguist has leeway to turn things around, but it’s fair to wonder if he can maintain and the build off the success of 2022.
- Scot Loeffler (Bowling Green)
- Loeffler brought an impressive resume – save for zero head coaching experience – to the Falcons program in 2019 but is just 13-29 overall and 9-20 in MAC play through four years. We added him to the hot seat last year, but the team won four of their last six MAC games to earn a bowl bid for the first time since 2015. That moved Loeffler down to the “safe” zone, where he will stay as long as BGSU doesn’t regress in 2023. UPDATE: The Falcons have won six of their last eight games, including a non-conference victory at Georgia Tech, to finish at 7-5 (5-3 MAC).