October has turned into November. The college football season is moving into its closing stretch. Some coaches on the hot seat – Les Miles, Darrell Hazell – have been fired. Others have done enough to put questions off for next year. But, the last few games could be critical to a few coaches on the cusp. Here are four to keep your eye on.
Dave Doeren [N.C. State] Doeren’s hot seat status escalated quickly. After beating Notre Dame and bringing Clemson to the brink, Louisville blew the doors off the Wolfpack and they lost to Boston College at home. That leaves N.C. State at 4-4, with FSU, Miami, and North Carolina left. In year four, Doeren is 18-24 vs. FBS and 7-21 in the ACC.
N.C. State ditched Tom O’Brien because his teams had a ceiling. Under Doeren this team has come nowhere near it. His buyout is only $2.59 million after this season with offset language.
Mark Helfrich [Oregon] Oregon stemmed the bleeding a bit, with a 54-35 win over Arizona State to move to 3-5 (2-5 vs. FBS). But, this could be an ugly finish. Stanford is their only remaining home game. The Ducks have road trips to USC, Utah, and Oregon State in their final four games. Oregon QB development has been poor. Plugging Brady Hoke in did not fix the defense.
Oregon is an insular culture. The Ducks have not hired a head coach outside the program in some time. But, Washington is going nowhere. Other programs have caught up or surpassed an Oregon program stuck in neutral. Helfrich has a steep buyout. But, the question may be whether Oregon can afford not to move on.
Charlie Strong [Texas] Charlie Strong is all but out at Texas. But, he’s not out the door yet. He believes his team will be a 10-win team in 2017. They have a strong freshman quarterback and some young talent. Upsetting Baylor helped his cause a bit. Though, there are the implosions on both sides of the ball to factor in. It’s not clear what winning out – at Texas Tech, West Virginia, at Kansas, TCU – would prove. Going 8-4 may not save him. But, it’s the only way there is a conceivable debate.
David Beatty [Kansas] Beatty inherited perhaps the toughest rebuilding project in major college football. No one doubted this was a multiple-year rebuilding process, along the lines of what Mike MacIntyre did it Colorado. The Jayhawks have shown sporadic flashes this year. Two years is not enough time.
Still, it’s hard to get around one number: zero. That’s the number of FBS wins Kansas has accumulated the last two years. Their one win under Beatty came against Rhode Island. The Jayhawks’ home game against Iowa State may be the best bet to end that streak. Not a given Kansas makes a move, but his buyout is only $1.6 million with offset language if they are inclined.