College football coaches facing hottest seats, most pressure in 2020

Sporting News

The term "hot seat" is one of the loosest terms used in college football when it comes to coaches.

There is a difference between facing pressure, which comes with the expectations of winning at the big-time programs, and the hot seat — which means you might be looking for a new job if you don't win now.

MORE: Ranking college football coaches 1-130 for 2020

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Sporting News separates the two heading into 2020. Here are five coaches on the hot seat and five more facing mounting pressure to win this season.

Five coaches on hot seat

Clay Helton, USC

The never-ending talk continues. Helton has stabilized the Trojans' recruiting this offseason, and he will have a full year under new athletic director Mike Bohn to secure his status as the long-term coach for the Trojans. That said, USC is 13-12 the past two seasons and needs to re-establish itself as the team to beat in a wide-open Pac-12 South.

Kevin Sumlin, Arizona

The Wildcats are 9-15 since Sumlin took over, and that includes a 6-12 record in Pac-12 play. Arizona ended last season on a seven-game losing streak. That, combined with Herm Edwards' quick rise at Arizona State in the same two-year stretch, is going to put the heat on Sumlin in his third year.

Will Muschamp, South Carolina

Vanderbilt's Derek Mason could be on here too, but Muschamp faces the task of turning the corner with the Gamecocks after four seasons. South Carolina is 26-25 in that stretch, the 10th-best record in the SEC. Clemson also has a six-game winning streak against the Gamecocks.

Chip Kelly, UCLA

Kelly is the third Pac-12 coach on this list, and the Bruins' 7-17 record the past two seasons simply isn't good enough. The offense ranked 80th in scoring offense last season at 26.7 points per game. Kelly needs to show progress in Year 3, and that success will be measured against USC and Helton.

Randy Edsall, UConn

Edsall's second stint with the Huskies has not gone according to plan. UConn left the American Athletic Conference to become an independent, and the Huskies are 3-21 the past two seasons. Edsall also dealt with a wave of offseason transfers. The entire football program appears to be on the hot seat.

MORE: College football bowl game projections for 2020

Five coaches facing the most pressure

Tom Herman, Texas

The Longhorns finished 8-5 last season, a season in which they were supposed to compete for the College Football Playoff, and Herman heads into Year 4 still chasing Oklahoma. The recruiting has improved at Texas, but Herman cannot afford another season with five or more losses. It starts with turning those close losses — Texas has 11 losses of eight points or fewer under Herman — into big victories.

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Frost is 9-15 in two seasons at his alma mater, and Huskers fans saw Minnesota break out in Year 3 with P.J. Fleck. Frost was expected to bring that back to Lincoln, and the Huskers are caught in a Big Ten West Division in which most of the programs have improved. A major step would be knocking off either Wisconsin or Iowa.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Michigan is 47-18 and a perennial top-10 contender under Harbaugh. The Wolverines, however, struggle in those top-10 showdowns and still carry an 0-5 record against the Buckeyes under Harbaugh. Michigan also is 1-4 in bowl games the past five years. The Wolverines haven't won at Ohio State since 2000, and they visit The Shoe again. That is the biggest pressure point.

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M

Fisher was given a huge paycheck to bring Texas A&M back to national prominence, and the recruiting has improved the past three cycles. Fisher's honeymoon period is ending, however, and to take that next step the program has to survive the SEC West grinder. The Aggies are 1-7 against top-10 teams the past two seasons. They have to start winning those big games.

Manny Diaz, Miami

Diaz finished 6-7 in his first season with the Hurricanes, and that was capped with a disastrous 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. To Diaz's credit, he addressed the problems by getting transfer quarterback D'Eriq King and hiring new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. The Hurricanes should expect more as a result.

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