As always, there’s several college football coaching situations clouded with uncertainty as we near the 2017 season. Here are ten of them.
Possibly too big to fail
Brian Kelly: Four and eight and Notre Dame do not belong in the same sentence. Not even in a post-Charlie Weis world. If they ever find themselves in the same sentence again, it’s curtains for Kelly, who has had a roller coaster ride in South Bend and doesn’t make it any easier with his cantankerous ways. The Fighting Irish’s early schedule is stiff (Temple, Georgia, Miami (Oh.), @MSU, Boston College, North Carolina) but navigable. There’s a good chance they are 6-0 or 5-1 headed into a home date with USC on Oct. 21 — if they play up to potential. Always a bit of a risky proposition for Kelly-coached teams.
Butch Jones: At a certain point Volunteers fans will grow tired of winning Life Championships and pine after real championships. Jones has posted a 30-21 record in Knoxville and shown steady improvement but the failure to capitalize on middling SEC East fields is damning. Once again, Jones has the talent to do it, should he get out of his own way and rely on his kids with five-star heart.
Jim Mora: It’s hard to imagine UCLA’s head man surviving two consecutive lackluster years with Josh Rosen in tow, but as a betting man, that’s where my chips lie.
Todd Graham: He’s followed back-to-back 10-win years with a 6-7 and 5-7, unable to take that next leap. He’s gone from big name rumors to holding on for dear life in the desert. On the bright side, he has plenty of company in the Pac-12.
The thrill is gone
Kevin Sumlin: Once the hottest name in the game, the Texas A&M coach is still living on the momentum of a 2012 upset of Alabama. Three straight years of 8-5 ball and the failure to retain top-tier quarterbacking prospects have dropped his leverage and star considerably. With Tom Herman now at Texas, the momentum seems to be slipping away even more rapidly.
Kliff Kingsbury: For all his cache, he’s posted a 24-26 record and led the Red Raiders to two low-level bowl games. Will this team ever enjoy the views from the upper echelon of the weak Big 12 under Kliff’s leadership? Do not hold your breath.
Vying for lifetime achievement award
Rich Rodriguez: Looked to be building something real at Arizona after the Michigan debacle until falling off a cliff last year. His huge buyout may be the thing to save him from the chopping block should the Wildcats take another step in the wrong direction.
Steve Addazio: He’s gone 7-6 in three of four seasons at Boston College? Is that the high end of expectations or the low end? We could soon find out if another one is added to the pile.
Don’t get too comfortable
Mike Riley: His second year in Lincoln saw him get the Cornhuskers back on the winning path, but what if regression occurs? Keep in mind how willingly Nebraska parted with Bo Pelini, who won 67 of 94 games.
Lane Kiffin: Okay, okay, hear me out. Florida Atlantic is thrilled to have the mercurial offensive mind. And there’s nothing right now to suggest he’s in jeopardy. But if we’ve learned anything it’s to expect the unexpected when it comes to Kiffin, who is likely to have a few surprises (either good or bad) up his sleeve. Cough, cough … Ole Miss.