It’s that time of year again, you know the one where we discuss people coaching for their jobs in the upcoming season. This isn’t a list you want the head coach of your program to be on but these are the Group of Five head coaches on the hot seat in 2019.
Randy Edsall - UConn: Okay so I know it’s only year two of the return to Storrs for the once coveted head coach. But let’s face the facts that 1-11 is well... 1-11. The Huskies statistically had the worst defense in all of college football in 2018 and one of the worst in it’s long history. I guess you could say the only place to go is up but with the uncertainty surrounding the program’s future it’s hard not to have Edsall on this list.
Phillip Montgomery - Tulsa: It’s surprising to see Montgomery here because of the excitement and almost can’t miss nature of the original hire. He comes from the Baylor tree and we know what that offense is capable of doing. Things started off great but have taken a turn for the worse the last few seasons. With hopes to turn things around this year he’ll have one of his former Baylor quarterbacks in to run the offense in Zach Smith. Coming off a 3-9 campaign with close losses to good teams point to a potential turn around but for now his seat heats up.
Jay Hopson - Southern Miss: Overall Hopson has done pretty well in Hattiesburg. But he sits at 21-16 overall and for a program and fan base that’s used to competing for conference titles and having fun offenses, things feel stale. Last year the Golden Eagles went 6-5 but missed out on a bowl invite because of a lack luster schedule and no impressive wins. Oh and there was that whole almost hiring Art Briles debacle and the way Hopson handled it publicly. That’s a whole different story but it certainly heats his seat up even more.
Frank Wilson - UTSA: This should’ve been a slam dunk hire. In some ways it still is when you consider the clip that Wilson is recruiting at which is the main reason why they brought him in. The other reason? His offensive prowess but the issue is the Roadrunners offense continues to disappoint. Coordinator changes and his recruits finally cycling up could lead to a resurgence but for a coach that was considered to be the next hot SEC candidate in waiting, the only thing that’s hot now is his seat.
Bobby Wilder - Old Dominion: Seems a little strange when you’re coming off a season in which you beat Virginia Tech... yes that Virginia Tech and conference favorite North Texas too. But outside of the monumental win the 2018 season was a disappointment. Two years ago the Monarchs were in a bowl and looked to be in a upward trajectory but things have cooled off. Many point to Old Dominion as a program that has a lot going for it especially the fertile recruiting base around them. Will overhauling the staff and the roster with JUCO transfers be enough for Wilder to see his twelfth season in Norfolk?
Mike Neu- Ball State: When you land the head coaching job at your alma mater you probably picture leading the program to glory in your head but sitting at 10-26 overall heading into his fourth season it’s been a struggle for the former Cardinal. The 2018 season showed some promise (including a close loss to Notre Dame) but was saddled with injuries across the board. Working against Neu is two most productive players on offense have both transferred (Riley Neal to Vanderbilt and James Gilbert to Kansas State.) With two power five opponents and Florida Atlantic on the schedule early he has his work cut out for him to get this turned around.
Mike Bobo - Colorado State: At one time Bobo was considered a hot coaching candidate for SEC jobs and now he’s coaching for his job in 2019. The Rams had an odd season in 2018, one that had high expectations which they came far from reaching. Bobo missed a part of fall camp with health concerns and his team never really seemed to recover even with a talented roster. It’s not just one season either, the Rams have underachieved when compared to what previous head coach Jim McElwain accomplished. With the investments Colorado State makes into it’s program it can’t afford another season like the last one. A manageable schedule should help and maybe cool down the hot seat a little.
Bob Davie - New Mexico: Full disclosure here, I’m not sure why Davie still has this job to begin with. Outside of one season where he made a hodge-podge offense work well enough to get to a bowl, the former Notre Dame head coach hasn’t been worth the price tag he’s come with. This doesn’t even get into the off the field incident that I won’t mention here but you’re more than welcome to look into for yourself. Maybe the University can’t afford to fire Davie and if that’s the case then the Lobos are stuck in limbo when they could be a top tier Mountain West program.
Tony Sanchez - UNLV: Sanchez isn’t the first big time high school coach to jump all the way to an FBS college job but he is the most recent. So far, the results are underwhelming. Coming off a 4-8 campaign in 2018 there have been some minor improvements but Sanchez was in charge of Bishop-Gorman which is a national high school power and Las Vegas’ top program. The success and program building hasn’t translated just yet. With ambitions being high and the team moving to the Raiders new stadium (maybe?) how much time does Sanchez have to turn things around?
Brent Brennan- San Jose State: Okay this seems a little unfair because the program he inherited was an absolute mess but we know that this is a business and it’s all about wins. The Spartans haven’t done much of that since Brennan arrived but the people in charge seem to be behind what’s being built and the direction they’re headed. But another poor showing in 2019 could lead them to reconsider that thought especially with Fresno State’s recent success. A bowl season would be a stretch but getting to four or five wins seems attainable in year three.
(It was difficult to find a coach here that’s truly on the hot seat so here is two on the warm seat)
Shawn Elliott - Georgia State: Even with the poor on the field product the people in charge in Atlanta have to be happy with the recruiting efforts of Elliot and his staff. They’re working hard to flip the roster and upgrade it’s talent. It’s hard to say he’s coaching for his job but things could get dicey if they have a repeat of 2018. For now let’s just keep his seat warm.
Matt Viator - ULM: Another one that seems unlikely to be coaching for his job but there’s no denying that after a 14-22 overall record and a disappointing 2018 season that the talk is at least there. The Warhawks are more competitive than before the arrival of Viator but they need to take the next step and that would be into a bowl game. The pressure is on especially with rival ULL on the rise.