College Football: 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2019

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USC head honcho Clay Helton (center) is one of the college football coaches on the hot seat in 2019.

With the college football season already underway (we see those touchdown rings Miami!), there are a few coaches looking to turn their fortunes around in 2019. Some of these coaches have had previous success, while others have struggled for several years with the Athletic Director giving them one too many chances.

This is a put up or shut up year for some of these coaches, as we go over our list of the five coaches on the hot seat in 2019.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

We previously talked about Auburn being a potential College Football Playoff crasher, and the team has the talent to do so. They have one of the best special teams units in the country, and if the offense can find their rhythm early with a freshman QB, it could be a showdown of undefeated teams when they face off against Georgia.

If the Tigers stumbled and finish with another 8-4 or even a 9-3 record in the regular season, Malzahn may be interviewing for new jobs in February.

Clay Helton, USC

We were shocked USC brought Clay Helton back in 2019, and we firmly believe if he doesn’t produce 10 wins and a division title he won’t make it to 2020. The Trojans have one of the best young quarterbacks in the country, and they are loaded at the skill positions on offense.

The season doesn’t start easy though, as the Trojans face Stanford, Oregon, Washington, and Notre Dame during their first half of the season. If USC can’t get started fast out of the gates, he may not make it to November.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

We know it’s tough to win at Vanderbilt. The last two very successful people associated with the football team could theoretically be Jay Cutler and former head coach James Franklin. However, we can’t let Derek Mason slide. Mason is just 9-31 in SEC games in six seasons, and the team has missed the bowl season in three of his six years. 

Unless Vanderbilt can win a bowl game to get over .500 this year, we doubt we see Mason leading the Commodores next year.

Lovie Smith, Illinois

Illnois' Lovie Smith is one of the college football coaches on the hot seat in 2019.
| Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Smith’s spot among college football coaches on the hot seat is so obvious, he could have been at the top of the list. After declining in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers, Lovie Smith was given the keys to the Illinois Fighting Illini. They haven’t been a powerhouse in the Big Ten since the 40s and 50s, but the team should have enough talent in-state to be better than the 9-27 record they have over the last three seasons.

Illinois has won just four games in the Big Ten under Smith, and two of those were against Rutgers before that school started turning things around. If Smith doesn’t hit seven or eight wins, we don’t think he will see a fifth season.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

The expectations are playoffs or bust for Michigan this year. With Ryan Day and Justin Fields taking over for Urban Meyer and Dwayne Haskins in Columbus, the Wolverines could see their best chance to win the Big Ten. They had an opportunity last season, going into the Horseshoe with the nation’s top defense, only to be obliterated 62-39, giving up the most points ever in the series.

The Wolverines return talent on both sides of the ball, but if they lose to Ohio State and miss out on a Big Ten championship game again, Harbaugh might finally have the rug pulled from under him.

Which coach has the hottest seat?

Looking at our list of head coaches under the most pressure for the 2019 college football season, who do you think has the hottest seat? Most coaches should be wary of their job security, but we believe Malzahn, Helton, and Smith must produce in 2019 to have a shot at staying on the job in 2020.