The seats are already hot, and the season hasn't even started yet. Every year, the coaching carousel starts spinning earlier. With that in mind, here are the 11 current head coaches who are poised to land bigger jobs this winter.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
Matt Wells - Utah State
Year in, year out, Wells is on this list because no matter what the season throws at him in Logan, he continues to get the job done. Last year, the Aggies were decimated by injuries but still went 6-2 in conference — blowing out a solid Boise State team at home. The schedule gets tougher for the Aggies this year, but they are lurking just below MWC leaders Boise State and San Diego State and are ready to pounce. Wells would be a perfect replacement for Bill Synder, should the Kansas State coach retire.
Getty ImagesGene Sweeney Jr.
Trent Miles - Georgia State
The former Indiana State coach took over a program that started from scratch in 2010 and once had a punter as a top quarterback and won only three of his first 32 games, but then the Panthers rattled off four wins to end last season, getting them into a bowl game for the first time in program history. It’s hard to believe the momentum will carry into 2016, but it did at Indiana State, where he took a 1-33 team and produced three-straight plus-.500 seasons. If Miles can get the Panthers to another bowl game in 2016, his work will be bordering on miraculous.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Willie Taggart - South Florida
After posting only six wins in his first two years after coming over from Western Kentucky, Taggart entered last season on the hot seat. But an 8-5 season that carried tons of momentum into 2016 — blowout wins over Temple and Cincy late in year — has him on the Power 5 coaching radar. Carry that momentum and strong play into this season — the Sept. 24 game against Florida State is a breakout game — and Taggart could end up sitting in a new seat this time next year.
Getty ImagesDon Juan Moore
Jeff Brohm - Western Kentucky
Do you like what Bobby Petrino can do with a football team, but don’t like Bobby Petrino? Well, Jeff Brohm is the newer, better version of the Louisville head coach. All he’s done since taking over in 2014 is go 20-7 and have one of the best offenses in the nation, with better-than-averages defenses to boot. A seven-year NFL veteran, Brohm has some hurdles this season — the loss of record-setting quarterback Brandon Doughty and having to play the three best teams in C-USA on the road — but should he get to 10 wins again this season, it would be criminal for him to not be picked up by a bigger school. The drive from Bowling Green to Lexington is quite easy.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Scott Satterfield - Appalachian State
He’s as App State as they come, but being able to take a team from FCS to a bowl game in one year is worthy of attention. The ‘Neers went 11-2 last year and have a rock-solid chance to get to 11 wins again in 2016. The former App State QB might love Boone, but there have to be a few teams in the AAC or lower levels of Big Ten and ACC that could use a proven program builder like him in charge.
Getty ImagesLeon Halip
Blake Anderson - Arkansas State
Sorry, Arky State, you’re probably going to lose another coach. The Wolves’ Week 2 matchup with Auburn has upset special written all over it, and should that come to fruition, plenty of eyes are going to go back to the coach who has churned out athletic, disciplined teams over his first two years. The Wolves have a real shot to go undefeated this year and play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Seriously.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Mike Bobo - Colorado State
The former Georgia offensive coordinator is proving he has what it takes to helm a Power 5 team. He might get the chance to do that in Fort Collins, should the Rams be annexed by the Big 12. The record might not be the best indicator of Bobo’s success in 2016 — the Rams are inexperienced and have brighter prospects in 2017. If Bobo can get them back into a bowl game, he should see interest from judicious athletic directors.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesAndy Cross
Bob Diaco - UConn
The former Notre Dame defensive coordinator took over a middling program that desperately needed a rebuild, and Diaco lifted the team to a 6-6 regular-season record last season after winning five games total in the prior two years. He’s shown as a coordinator and a head coach that he can get teams to play great defense. If the UConn offense comes around this year (17.2 points per game last year), the Huskies will be able to push for 10 wins and get Diaco on a lot of high-paying Power 5 schools’ lists.
Getty ImagesGene Sweeney Jr.
Matt Rhule - Temple
A detailed and excitable former defensive line coach, Rhule has developed one of the most stable programs in the nation thanks to a rock-solid defense that can stack up against any team in the nation outside the SEC’s super elite (Alabama, LSU). He just signed a new six-year deal with Temple, so it’ll take a big-time job — bigger than Missouri — to land him.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
P.J. Fleck - Western Michigan
The madman in Kalamazoo, Fleck’s boundless energy and eye for finding and developing raw talent has turned Western Michigan from arguably the worst program in the country to the best team in the MAC heading into the 2016 season. Fleck should be able to row his boat to Purdue, Georgia Tech, Boston College or Kentucky should those jobs open up in the winter.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY SportsMike Carter
Tom Herman - Houston
The top coaching prospect in the game, Herman has taken his success as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and translated it into a great year at Houston. Another push for a New Year’s Six bowl game should have him poised to take any open job he wants.