Why half the SEC’s coaches will be on the hot seat next season

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Stewart Mandel’s Dec. 16 Mailbag. For his full Mailbag, click here, and to submit a question for next week, email Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.

What college coaches will be on the hot seat in 2016?

— Dennis P Crawford, Lincoln, Neb.

I take it by where you’re writing from that you want me to say Mike Riley. Hold that thought.

First of all, half the SEC coaches will be on the hot seat in 2016, starting with Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. That may sound nuts given Sumlin is not far removed from 11 wins and a Heisman Trophy winner, and Malzahn is only two years removed from the national championship game (with a team that went 3-9 the year before). But that’s life when everyone in your division makes at least $4-5 million. Sumlin is 11-13 in conference play the past three seasons, Malzahn 6-10 the past two. Neither will likely survive another mediocre season.

Meanwhile, Tennessee’s Butch Jones just got a raise for going 8-4, but it comes with an expectation the Vols win more than that next year. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops needs to get over the 5-7 hump in his fourth season. Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason needs to get to at least 5-7. Arkansas‘ Bret Bielema can’t afford another 7-5 or 6-6 finish. And Les Miles won’t likely get another reprieve if the Tigers don’t improve.

Elsewhere, it’s a given Texas’ Charlie Strong is on the hot seat, given the university president now has to reassure potential offensive coordinators. Purdue’s Darrell Hazell and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre will enter their fourth seasons next year needing to show they have in fact rebuilt their programs. And Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson can’t go 3-9 again.

As for Mike Riley — he’s only in danger if the ‘Huskers finish below .500 again. I don’t see that happening. … Sorry?

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.