Before any college football season again, there’s always discussion about which coaches are on the hot seat.
Some candidates are obvious and some aren’t. FOX Sports released its list of the top five coaches on the hot seat entering 2017, and a couple of names on the list were shocking.
The unsurprising names on the list from Aaron Torres were Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin at No. 5, UCLA coach Jim Mora at No. 3, and Tennessee coach Butch Jones at No. 2.
The first surprise on the list is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at No. 4. Sure, the Irish stumbled to a 4-8 season in 2016. But Kelly led the school to the Fiesta Bowl in 2015 and a national title appearance in 2012.
Torres said Notre Dame’s schedule is tough once again next season, and the Irish have to replace quarterback DeShone Kizer as well.
“It isn’t unimaginable that Kelly could be 9-3 or 10-2 and comfortably off the hot seat by the conclusion of the regular season,” Torres wrote. “It also isn’t impossible to see him at 7-4 and coaching for his job against Stanford in the final week of the season.”
Would a 7-5 season really he enough to warrant the firing of Kelly? Aside from last year, Kelly has done a solid job of turning Notre Dame into a contender. It would be shocking to see the Irish let him go if he went 7-5 against a difficult schedule.
The other surprising name on the list checked in at No. 1. Torres said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat, and the Tigers’ difficult schedule could prove to be too much for Malzahn.
Auburn travels to play defending national champion Clemson in Week 2, and they also have three straight road games against LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M. The Tigers have Georgia and Alabama at home, but neither will be an easy game.
Auburn made the Sugar Bowl last season with an 8-5 record, and Malzahn’s last three seasons have been 8-5, 7-6 and 8-5. With a schedule that difficult, would eight wins be enough to earn Malzahn another year?
The Tigers won’t be expected to beat Alabama, but Malzahn might want to avoid another disappointing seven-win season with a struggling offense next year.
(h/t FOX Sports)