In 2015, the coaching carousel cranked up much earlier and much faster than it had in recent years. This year, there’s plenty of guys who are under pressure to win now to save their jobs. Here are the Top 10 coaches on the hottest seats entering 2016. A few of these guys have won big, but at their places it still doesn’t mean they have much job security.
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T-10. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Make no mistake, this is a much tougher job to win at than it was back in the Big East days when they played five non-conference games (as opposed to just three now) and were in a watered down league that didn’t have another Top 20 team in it. In those days, after Miami and Virginia Tech left, WVU was the closest thing to a heavyweight. In the Big 12, the Mountaineers job is probably only better than the Kansas schools and Iowa State. Holgorsen is a more-than-respectable 36-28 at WVU, but his AD (not the guy who hired him) has been slow to back him and it’s hard to say just what it’ll take this fall for Shane Lyons to be convinced after a solid 8-5 year in 2015.
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T-10. Les Miles, LSU
He’s won a national title and has the Tigers looking like they have a playoff team again, but remember this place almost fired Miles last year and his record there is a gaudy 112-32. Two big factors seem to be driving this: The Tigers haven’t beaten Nick Saban’s team since 2011, and Saban’s current program has won four national titles -- all since Miles led LSU to their last one back in 2007. He’s also “just” 14-10 in his last three SEC seasons.
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9. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
He’s won 36 games in four seasons at A&M, the most by any Aggie coach in a four-year span since R.C. Slocum won 42 almost a quarter-century ago in the early ‘90s. Sumlin also did lead the Aggies to a Top 5 finish in their debut season in the SEC, their highest finish in a half-century. But it’s been a turbulent ride the past couple of years in College Station, and the Aggies have a new AD, a new president and sky-high expectations.
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8. Charlie Strong, Texas
It’s still only Year 3. Then again, it’s still Texas. Strong inherited a messy situation from Mack Brown, and he’s tapped the re-set button on his offense a couple of times already. There have been too many times his team wasn’t competitive at all, and he’s just 11-14 in two seasons. But his best players are all young guys, and there’s a lot of reasons for optimism on his roster. He needs UT to take another big step forward this year to convince folks the Horns are getting closer.
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7. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
He’s recruited well and made some progress, although a 12-24 mark in three seasons with just four SEC wins while in the much easier division doesn’t look great. UK does have a talented young QB in Drew Barker, some dynamic RBs and a couple of big-time rangy corners. Getting UK to a bowl game this year isn’t an unrealistic thought, especially with South Carolina and Mizzou also struggling and Vandy in rebuilding mode.
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6. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
He followed James Franklin, who led Vandy to consecutive Top 25 finishes when they won a combined 18 games in 2012-13, and since then the Commodores have backslid off the college football map. Mason’s debut was a 30-point home loss to Temple. Last year’s home opener was a two-point loss to WKU. He looks more comfortable as he settles in for Year 3, but he needs to start winning because it feels like it’s been a long time since Franklin’s nine-win seasons.
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5. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
He did a good job in the MAC, and this is a very tough gig. They’ve been really young, especially on offense. Still, 6-18 and just 2-14 in ACC play in two seasons begs for some sizable progress. They’ve been bad and, worse still, they’ve been boring and downright inept on offense, ranking No. 120 and No. 127 in scoring offense. Getting at least to four wins isn’t asking too much.
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4. Paul Petrino, Idaho
The Vandals showed some improvement in 2015 after consecutive one-win seasons in his first two years. Still, a 6-29 record isn’t acceptable anywhere.
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3. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
He did a very nice job at San Jose State. His Buffs have improved and been very competitive, but they have yet to do much beyond moral victories. In all, he's 10-27 and just 2-25 in Pac-12 play.
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2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
He’s just two seasons removed from playing in the national title game, but Auburn’s had two disappointing seasons in a row and patience is wearing out for a guy making well over $5 million per year after being preseason No 6. in the nation and then going 2-6 in SEC play last year. It also doesn’t help his cause that the arch-rival just won another national title. A brutal schedule that starts with Clemson and includes three preseason Top 5 teams and five of the Top 18 doesn’t bode well for a guy who’s also dealt with a lot of staff instability the past couple of years.
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1. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
The Boilermakers are in the much easier division in the Big Ten and they’ve still finished in last in each of Hazell’s three seasons there. He is 3-29 against FBS teams, 2-22 against the Big Ten and he’s lost all three to arch-rival Indiana. He won 11 games in his final season at Kent State and has barely won half that many in the three years since. The good news: They probably won’t face anything close to a ranked opponent till mid-October.