2012 Coaching Hot Seat - Need To Win
USF head coach Skip Holtz
USF head coach Skip Holtz
Posted Apr 10, 2012

The CFN 2012 Coaching Hot Seat Analysis - Win, or the pressure is on


2012 Coaching Hot Seat

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- No Pressure - Can Afford Two Bad Years
- No Real Worries. - Can Afford A Clunker
- Need To Win, Or The Pressure Is On
- Clunk In 2012, Worry In 2013
- The Pressure Cooker. The REAL Hot Seat 
- 2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings

Being on a hot seat doesn't and shouldn't necessarily mean a coach is about to be fired. It can also mean a coach is under tremendous pressure and has to deal with ridiculously high expectations.

For example, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Brady Hoke aren't going to be fired no matter what happens on the field this season. However, they're on a hot seat to win and win big. Meyer needs to get Ohio State ready to win a national title again in 2013. Fisher has to get Florida State to an ACC title. Hoke set the bar high after winning the Sugar Bowl, and now the fan base is expecting a Big Ten championship.

So with that in mind, here's the CFN ranking of all 124 current FBS college football head coaches based on the pressure they're under. The ones at the top could afford a disastrous 2012 and everything would be fine. The ones at the bottom will either be canned or will have an extremely disappointed fan base to make for an extremely grouchy offseason.

These coaches are likely rebuilding a program, are in a nice situation or have been successful enough to survive a bad year without a problem. There are expectations, but these coaches can probably make it to 2013 with no worries, even with a clunker of a 2012.    

51. The New Arkansas Head Coach
It'll be an interesting situation for the new head man. On the one hand, as long as he's not Bobby Petrino, and as long as he comes across as a good guy, that's all that will matter for the short term. However, he'll inherit a phenomenal team that's good enough to win the national title, or at least will be in the SEC West championship chase, and anything less than a strong season will be unacceptable. The new coach can get away with not winning the SEC title, but anything less than 9-3 will be a problem.

52. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
He's much safer than a year ago, but he's not out of the woods after a disastrous Orange Bowl and with a clunker of a finishing kick – outside of the ACC championship game. If Clemson underachieves, a la 2010, he'll be back under the microscope entering 2013.

53. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
He's a high-profile coach who still has the ties in Texas and knows the pipeline. Can his rushing attack take the Western Athletic Conference by storm? In a few years, he should make the Bobcats a major conference player. However, don't judge him by this year; there's still a lot of work to be done.

54. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
This should be really, really interesting. Sumlin will turn 48 years old this summer, and he was one of the hottest prospects this offseason. Had he made a push, he could have taken over at Arizona State, Illinois or UCLA if he really wanted any of those gigs. Instead, he took on the challenge of butting his head against the SEC West wall, ensuring that consistent success will be hard to come by. With the move to the SEC, this is a destination job, and there's not a lot of rebuilding to be done. However, 8-4 in this conference is like 10-2 anywhere else, even if Aggies fans desperate to be in the national title chase won't see it that way.

55. Tony Levine, Houston
If both parties are to be believed, Levine could be in Houston for a very long time. The coach has labeled the gig as a destination job, and the school is ecstatic with its answer to Sumlin. Levine will have more pressure on him to win immediately than any of his recent predecessors.

56. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
The Hawaii native might have been up for the Hawai job opening this offseason had his style of offense not been the direct opposite of what the Warriors run. A 5-7 record last year didn't qualify as a true clunker, and it will take a few more losing seasons to suggest he's on a hot seat. On the flip side, Navy will be happy to keep him around as long as possible.

57. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
The head coaching mess at Pitt the past 15 months will actually work in Chryst's favor. No one in the administration is eager to interview candidates anytime soon. The new staff will get a minimum of three years to install their systems and restore the Panthers' pride. However, as Dave Wannstedt found out, the pressure is there to win and win soon.

58. Carl Pelini, Florida Atlantic
There's a major rebuilding job to be done, and he will get at least three years to try to turn things around. He has a shiny new stadium to work with on the recruiting trail, but he needs a while to crank up the talent level.

59. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
There's a lot of work to be done, and Kill will be given the time to make something happen. This is at least a three-year project just to make the Gophers competitive, much less any sort of a threat, but Kill should be the man for the gig. The biggest concern, though, is his health. Kill suffered a frightening seizure on the sidelines last year and has past cancer issues. However, as always, it's full-speed ahead for Kill.

60. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Has the program hit a ceiling? Cubit has done a nice job and his two losing seasons were a not-that-bad 5-7, but soon there might be a thought that it's time to find someone who can do a little bit more. Even so, he's not on any sort of a hot seat and can survive a dud year.

61. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
The 6-6 season bought him at least a year if things go back in the tank. He proved that Eastern Michigan can be decent, and he also showed the ability to crank up the defense, with the team improving as the season went on. Very smart and very confident, he's trying to will this team to being good. It's getting closer.

62. Mike London, Virginia
At least for the next few years, if London leaves Charlottesville, it will be his decision, not the administration's. Virginia's biggest concern will be keeping him on the payroll.

63. Al Golden, Miami
Golden inherited a tough situation, but at Miami patience will be exercised for only so long. After going 6-6, he needs to raise the bar before seriously contending for an ACC title in 2013 in order to keep critics from chirping. It should surprise no one if he's still in South Florida five years from now.

64. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
He'll be given a long time to make something happen. Indiana has had only one winning season since 1994, and it's going to take a major change to turn the program into any sort of a player in the Big Ten. In a lot of ways Wilson is like another Barry Alvarez, who had a similar daunting task at Wisconsin. Wilson will get at least two more years before he's in trouble, but another 1-11 could speed up the timetable.

65. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
He's getting paid relatively well, making more than $1 million a year, and he's an up-and-coming young coach whom Iowa State would love to have around to grow with the program. Would one big year be enough to put him on the short lists for bigger jobs? Probably, but he might be in for a bit of a rebuilding season. He can afford a clunker of a year, or even two, if there's hope on the horizon.

66. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Now there are big expectations. Michigan will be the favorite to win the Big Ten title this season, and the sky's the limit if it can pull off an opening weekend win over Alabama. The program might be a year or two away from being a true national title contender and Ohio State is regrouping in a hurry, but Wolverines fans can't ask for anything more coming off the Rodriguez era.

67. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Even after the horrible season, he's still the Troy program. He could survive another three-win season and be more than fine, but age and a drop in production in an improving league could turn up the pressure, making 2012 an important year for the future of the program.

68. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Although the program was certainly bummed by last year's results, Holtz won't be looking over his shoulder this fall or probably anytime soon. Of course, he can make his life a whole lot more uncomfortable by leading the Bulls to their first back-to-back losing seasons in program history.

69. Lane Kiffin, USC
Kiffin has so far successfully won over athletic director Pat Haden, who had some initial skepticism of his coach. That was a huge achievement. Kiffin can further solidify his station with a Pac-12 title in 2012. In terms of longevity and results, he's capable of becoming another Pete Carroll at USC, but now the pressure is on. Now he has to actually produce and has all the pressure of being the USC coach squarely on his shoulders. His team will be in the preseason top five, if not No. 1, and the fan base is expecting a big run.

70. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Locked up until 2020 and with more than $3.5 million after incentives coming in annually, he's not going anywhere. It would take at least two dud seasons before there would be any thought of getting rid of him, but soon he'll have to come up with a good run. Iowa has been a factor in the conference title chase only once in the last seven years.

71. Larry Coker, UTSA
A strong head coach who never got enough credit for what he did with a few tremendous Miami teams, UTSA won't be awful under his tenure. However, will he be able to get in enough talent to make any WAC noise? Remember, Butch Davis loaded up the Hurricanes for Coker's national title.

72. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Expectations in Tulsa have been high for the past few years, meaning Blankenship doesn't have the room for error that others in the league do. The foundation laid last season, he's hoping to build upon it this fall.

73. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
The administration understands the unique challenges facing Johnson, and will be patient with its head coach. If Bob Toledo made it into his fifth season, Johnson shouldn't have to look over his shoulder for some time.

74. David Shaw, Stanford
One year into his tenure, Shaw looks to be the perfect guy to carry the torch from the Jim Harbaugh era. He has the right demeanor, offensive acumen and salesmanship on the recruiting trail to keep the Cardinal humming. If he's not lured to the NFL, he's the kind of coach who might still be winning games on the Farm a decade from now.

75. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Although Marrone isn't on the hot seat yet, he's capable of getting there in a hurry with a third losing season in the past four years. He was not hired to re-enact Greg Robinson's miserable tenure at the school.

76. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Although the two-year mark isn't spiffy, Marshall plans to stick with Holliday for the foreseeable future. He helped his cause with a 4-1 finish, capped by a bowl win over Florida International. He'll help it further by turning the Herd into a Conference USA contender for the first time in a decade.

77. Bill O'Brien, Penn State
It will be interesting to see what happens if he's just good enough to keep the program going. He can afford two awful years before being in make-or-break trouble, but what if Penn State is 7-5-to-8-4 good and finishes third in the Leaders for the next few seasons? Will that be good enough? No matter how the system worked with Joe Paterno at the helm the past several years, the wins were still there.

2012 Hot Seat Status
- No Pressure - Can Afford Two Bad Years
- No Real Worries. - Can Afford A Clunker
- Need To Win, Or The Pressure Is On
- Clunk In 2012, Worry In 2013
- The Pressure Cooker. The REAL Hot Seat 
- 2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings