A few months ago we gave you a list of coaches in the Group of Five who are trending up in the coaching world. Today, we look at the other end of that spectrum, the G5 and FCS head coaches who are trending down and enter 2018 on the hot seat.
Group of Five Head Coaches
1. Brad Lambert, Charlotte - Brad Lambert is 17-41 in five years as the head coach. In three years as a member of Conference USA, the 49ers are 4-20 during conference play. They have routinely been one of the worst teams in the country under Lambert and have punched under their weight when it comes to recruiting despite residing in one of the most fertile regions in the country. According to 247 Sports, Charlotte has never signed a class that ranked higher than 10th in C-USA.
2. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina - Three hours away from Charlotte, East Carolina is dealing with the same issue with much higher stakes. The AAC is the best G5 conference in the country. A step back translates to conference rivals running laps around your program on the field and in the revenue department. The optics surrounding the Scottie Montgomery hire weren’t great and Montgomery has made it worse with back-to-back 3-9 seasons. The Pirates had one of the worst defenses in the country and needs to improve dramatically to contend in the tough AAC East.
3. Bob Davie, New Mexico - If you only look at the win-loss record, Davie would be considered relatively safe. He’s 30-45 at UNM and took the Lobos to two straight bowl games in 2015 and 2016. It’s his behavior and decision making off the field that finds him on this list. After going 3-9 last year I suspect another losing season will force UNM to realize Davie is unfit to be on a college campus.
4. Matt Wells, Utah State - Matt Wells has provided solid stability for the Aggies, going 34-32 in five years with four bowl berths. However, after inheriting a great foundation from Gary Andersen USU has slipped to mediocrity. You could make the case that given the Aggies’ football history, Wells should be safe. This is a job where it doesn’t take much for a sudden collapse. If Wells wants to prove that the Aggies are nowhere close to reaching that bottom, he might need to finish 2018 with a winning season.
5. Chuck Martin, Miami (OH) - It’s kind of miraculous Martin is entering his fifth year in Oxford. Two seasons ago the Redhawks started 0-6 before winning six straight, becoming the first time in college football history to accomplish the feat. So far, that’s the highlight of Martin’s tenure. He’s only made one appearance in a bowl and has zero winning seasons with a 16-33 record, despite consistently signing classes that rank near the top of the MAC.
6. Everett Withers, Texas State - The Bobcats were in a horrible place from a roster standpoint in 2016 when Withers first got the job. After two straight 2-10 seasons, the Bobcats are, well, still in a pretty tough position with their roster. Withers has had to constantly deal with kicking players off the team, signees not being academically eligible and worst of all, fielding a poor team. He’s had two Year Zeros due to having an incredibly young roster. This season is the first year where we’ll have the opportunity to see what Withers is building in San Marcos as the Bobcats have a lot of young but talented pieces.
7. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green - Jinks is 6-18 in two years at Bowling Green. When he arrived the Falcons were fresh off of winning their 12th MAC title. He’s had to undergo a roster transformation during his time as the head coach but with a bunch of pieces back, 2018 will provide a better assessment if Jinks is the right man for the job.
8. Major Applewhite, Houston - After going 7-5 in his first full season, Applewhite has brought in five grad transfers and controversially hired Kendal Briles as his new offensive coordinator. We all know about the famous remark from Houston’s president on how the Cougars won’t settle for eight-win seasons. Given how school-friendly Applewhite’s contract is, the pressure is on to make sure 7-5 doesn’t happen again in 2018.
9. Chad Lunsford, Georgia Southern - When Chad Lunsford got the nod as an interim head coach to replace Tyson Summers, most figured it was due to Lunsford’s time with the school. Not that he had a serious shot at becoming the full time head coach. Despite going just 2-4, Lunsford is indeed now the full time HC. Some believed Southern’s athletic department punted on the job search. Lunsford’s on a school-friendly contract should things go sideways in a hurry.
FCS Head Coaches
1. Tom Arth, Chattanooga - Arth is entering his second year at Chattanooga, but his seat is already scorching hot considering the Mocs dismal performance in 2017. Athletic Director David Blackburn took a big chance on Arth, who had only coached at the Division III level prior to the hire. The Mocs were supposed to take a step back with Arth installing a new system. However, no one expected the program to go 3-8 in his first year. Blackburn stepped down in the summer of 2017, and new AD Mark Wharton is not beholden to Arth. If the Mocs don’t finish with a winning record this year, there’s a decent chance that Arth will be replaced at the end of the season.
2. Aaron Best - Best’s predecessor Beau Baldwin had a lot of success at Eastern Washington before leaving to become Cal’s offensive coordinator. The Eagles were looking for continuity when they promoted a long-time assistant to be the team’s head coach, but they failed to make the playoffs in Best’s first season as they went 7-4. Star quarterback Gage Gubrud is back, so EWU should put up big numbers through the air once more. Failing to make the playoffs again could put Best’s job in jeopardy though.