WASHINGTON, D.C. — Very few head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision have true job security. Nick Saban is one. Dabo Swinney and Urban Meyer are two others. One new hire, Nebraska’s Scott Frost, brings enough goodwill into his debut season to make him the envy of many of his peers in the Big Ten Conference.
But most head coaches are in a different place: Each FBS conference has at least one coach who will enter the 2018 season with a tenuous grasp on his job security.
When it comes to the hottest seats in college football, here are 10 names to consider.
1. David Beaty, Kansas
Beaty has just three wins in three seasons at Kansas, as the latest in the Jayhawks’ line of woefully unsuccessfully head coaches since Mark Mangino’s dismissal in 2009. Barring a huge rise in the Big 12 standings, Beaty is the Power Five head coach most likely to be replaced this fall. Also, KU announced July 5 that former College Football Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long will be its new athletics director.
2. Brad Lambert, Charlotte
It was surprising to see Lambert return after a 2017 season that saw Charlotte finish 1-11. That he’s the only coach in the program’s short history played a role, but Lambert will enter the fall needing to get the 49ers into bowl contention to gain back the support he’s lost since the program moved into Conference USA.
3. Bob Davie, New Mexico
It’s not all about wins and losses for Davie, though last year’s nine-loss finish made it harder and harder to ignore the off-field issues that have plagued his tenure with the Lobos.
In February, he was suspended for 30 days following allegations that he obstructed a rape investigation, made racist comments and physically assaulted players. It almost makes you wonder: Why is he still the head coach?
4. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
Montgomery was a fantastic assistant coach – one of the nation’s best with the wide receivers during his stint at Duke – who, like many others, has been unable to recapture that same level of consistency and success as a head coach. There’s still time for Montgomery, but back-to-back 3-9 seasons have made the fan base restless entering 2018.
5. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green
Jinks was viewed in some circles as a home run hire for Bowling Green: he was young, considered a capable recruiter and well-versed in an offensive scheme that meshed well with what current Syracuse head coach Dino Babers left behind. Then he went 4-8 in his first year, in 2016, followed by last fall’s 2-10 finish. Jinks has one more shot to right the ship.
6. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
MacIntyre got Colorado over the hump with a Pac-12 Conference South Division title in 2016 – the end of a long and painful rebuilding project – but almost immediately exhausted that goodwill by failing to reach a bowl game and winning just twice in league play last fall. Was 2016 a blip on the radar?
7. Everett Withers, Texas State
Withers led North Carolina to a bowl game as the interim coach in 2011 and James Madison to a combined 18 wins from 2014-15, laying the foundation for the Dukes to win Football Championship Subdivision title in 2016. He didn’t have to take the Texas State job, even if the move to the FBS was technically a step up the coaching ladder. Now, with just four wins across two seasons, Withers and his staff face a prove-it year.
8. Barry Odom, Missouri
Odom should get some praise for his in-season turnaround last fall, though it came with an asterisk: Missouri went 7-0 against teams with losing records or opponents from the FCS and 0-6 against bowl teams. Let’s not forget Odom was viewed as a candidate to lose his job just midway into last season, his second with the Tigers. The bowl game gave him a bump, as did quarterback Drew Lock’s decision to return for his senior season. But a finish outside the top four in the Southeastern Conference East would put Odom’s job back in jeopardy.
9. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa
Tulsa’s quick dip from 10 wins in 2016 to 10 losses a year later was unexpected, if fascinating to watch. Here’s the tough part: Tulsa’s 2018 schedule may be the toughest you’ll find among the Group of Five conferences, with non-league matchups at Texas and Arkansas joined by the Golden Hurricane’s annual slog through the American Athletic Conference West.
10. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Kingsbury’s here because Tech is 30-33 overall and 16-29 in Big 12 play across his five seasons. The Red Raiders got back into the postseason last fall, albeit as the eighth-place finisher in the Big 12 and on the back of wins against lowly Baylor and Kansas. The university wants this tenure to work out, however, so another bowl trip should ensure that Kingsbury doesn’t go anywhere.