Which College Football Coach Gets Canned First This Season?

Submitted by Perkis-Size Me on July 16th, 2018 at 3:37 PM

I posted this thread around this time last year and thought with the lack of real football-related material these days, I’d post it again. Not that I don’t love listing off my G.O.A.T foods, but who do you all see among the first college football head coaches to be fired this season?

My first thoughts go to Lovie Smith at Illinois or David Beaty at Kansas. Neither are high profile gigs and both have minimal expectations. Kansas especially. But I’m thinking if Lovie can’t get Illinois to a bowl game after three years at the helm, he’s gone. Beaty may get a longer leash than that, but I doubt he can survive another 1-win season.



July 16th, 2018 at 5:09 PM ^

Agreed on Durkin, everyone knows last years results were largely due to QB injuries.  Plus he just had the 4th and 5th best recruiting classes in the Big10.  Everyone knows his ceiling in the Big10 East is 8-4 and with the talent he has brought in plus hiring Canada as OC, they should get pretty close to that and everyone will be happy.

And while Rutgers could fire Ash, what decent candidate would be dumb enough to take that job?  With PSU back, there is no easy home state recruiting, Maryland is already doing much better on the east coast, and you have at least 4 guaranteed losses a year and more likely 6 or 7. 


July 16th, 2018 at 7:23 PM ^

That one is tough but I would have to choose off the field behavior. Most coaches will at least get a few games to prove themselves. Off the field stuff could happen during fall camp. It always seems like some coach somewhere makes a bone headed decision at the beginning of the season or at camp.

Watching From Afar

July 16th, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

He's averaging 8.5 wins per season and has only gotten close in 2012 when they survived week after week of eking out wins thanks to 4 INTs from Denard, missed chip shots from Purdue and Pitt, and a goaline stand against Stanford. Then got pounded into oblivion.

I'm biased, I think the guy is a massive tool. But ND and 8-9 wins a year generally don't mix. Especially when you have the vacating wins from 2012 and 2013, the death of a camera guy, and the general embarrassment that he is publicly and on the sideline.


July 16th, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

I'd think schools with low expectations (Illinois, Kansas, etc.) would hold off until firing their coach until after the season. Doesn't really make sense to fire Beaty in week 8 and make some poor interim coach the tire fire the rest of the way, when nobody is banging down the door to come to Kansas (or Illinois). They're not getting a head start on the best candidates available.


I'll go out on a limb and say Clay Helton or Brian Kelly. For Helton, one could picture a 4-3 or even 3-4 start after losing their starting QB, RB, and having a weak defense. For Kelly, I could see Notre Dame falling below .500 in the first weeks of November. I could see both of these schools entering their 11/24 matchup with interim head coaches. Especially so for Notre Dame, who would probably target Jeff Brohm.


Both Helton and Kelly have been pretty underwhelming in recent years and are generally uninspiring faces of their programs. The issue with this coaching market is that the number of coveted young leaders seems pretty slim. Neal Brown from Troy would top my list. Outside of him...???


July 16th, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

A few names that haven't been mentioned (at least prior to me writing this post):

(1) Ed Orgeron is on a short leash, for sure.

(2) Larry Fedora at UNC - 3-9 last year.  That can't repeat.

(3) In mid-major land, Scottie Montgomery has been a disaster at ECU.  The Pirates should not be nearly as bad as they have been lately.

(4) A longer shot: Mike Leach.  His political comments during the off-season were polarizing and the athletic department has had turnover.  Longer shot, but you never know.


July 16th, 2018 at 4:48 PM ^

The key for UNC seems to be their first 2 games --- at California and at ECU.

Neither of those teams are very good, but it's (1) a full cross-country road trip, and (2) an in-state team who would love to beat you and has a coaching staff that needs to "win now" themselves.

Go 0-2 in those games, and UNC is likely 1-4 on September 27th (UCF & Miami FLA among their next 3 games).  Then a 16-day break before their next game.  I could see it happening.

CRISPed in the DIAG

July 16th, 2018 at 5:12 PM ^

Fedora has to start showing progress in the ACC - at least at home. UNC strongly identifies as a BB school, so he really just needs to consistently exist in the 8-5 or 9-4 territory. Strange to think he was pretending to take his name out of various coaching searches as late as 2016.

UNC is building a new indoor/outdoor practice facility that should be open in time to attract a new head coach if necessary, but I don't see them paying the $4-8 million it takes to get a name HC or promote a sexy SEC coordinator.


July 16th, 2018 at 3:51 PM ^

Lovie I think gets some slack since he is bringing in some decent recruits and people couldn't expect them to do all too much. I think Kelly for sure could be possible or maybe like Helton at USC could be on the hot seat. SEC just had a merry-go-round so I don't know if anyone there has been in place long enough to consider....

Ty Butterfield

July 16th, 2018 at 3:57 PM ^

If ND didn’t fire Kelly after he has the blood of two dead students on his hands, first vacated wins in school history, a 4-8 season, and negative ads in the South Bend Tribune.....why would they fire him now? Not to mention we still don’t know what role the current athletic director Savvy Jack had in the Larry Nassar debacle when he was General Counsel for USAG. Interesting that Savvy Jack had that part of his bio scrubbed from the ND website. I know it is a road game at night, but holy hell Harbaugh better not lose to that bastard. 

I Like Burgers

July 16th, 2018 at 5:28 PM ^

I just think it would be super rare for a school like Notre Dame to fire a coach mid-season pending some sort of full blown meltdown.

And given that they are favored in every single game this season, I just don't see that happening.  Also, if you're Notre Dame who are you going to get that's an upgrade on Kelly?


July 16th, 2018 at 6:25 PM ^

From what I hear, Notre Dame has always interested Urban Meyer. Whether he’d leave OSU is debatable.

Not to mention a young up and coming coach located about 2 hours South currently in Jeff Brohm. 

Or take a shot at a guy like PJ Fleck. 

Kelly is only averaging 8.5 wins per year. There’s probably quite a few coaches who could do that. 



July 16th, 2018 at 7:10 PM ^

Urban is not leaving OSU for Notre Dame...he literally has the best job in the country, I hate to say it, but it's true. OSU is a Goliath with their only in state competition Cincinnati. Their worst years in the last 50 years with Cooper still consisted of them winning 11 games three times, something we've never done. 


July 17th, 2018 at 6:31 PM ^

I don’t think Urban would go to ND. But I think I remember hearing that ND is his dream job. While I highly doubt it, there’s a greater than 0 chance. 

My point was simply that there are plenty of candidates out there that would be interested in ND and can yield the same results or better than Kelly


July 16th, 2018 at 4:29 PM ^

Easy to say that before the games happen, but if he loses to Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Miss State, and Auburn, all games they are underdogs in fans won't be OK with that.  Just look at Michigan last year, most preseason projections were 9-3 or 8-4, and yet once fans saw the actual games and felt the disappointment at the loss, most weren't OK with it.  If there's a hot candidate out there, don't be surprised if LSU moves faster this time so they don't lost out like they did with Tom Herman.

Human Torpedo

July 16th, 2018 at 4:18 PM ^

Ed Orgeron. I think that never was a popular hire down there, the schedule is third hardest according to FPI, and I always felt it was downgrade to Les Miles (even the later years of him)


July 16th, 2018 at 4:22 PM ^

From what I've read Lovie has some slack because of how bad the program was when he took over and the recruiting is good(for Illinois).   I don't think it will be a lower P5 team that fires a coach first(unless there is some surprising event like Sarkesian.  They don't tend to be in a rush to find a replacement coach the way the top teams are.

I could see Kelly fired early.  They have 4 top 30 opponents through week 7 and if the hype about them as a top 10 team is wrong and they end up 3-4 or 4-3  it would not sit well with fans with FSU and USC games looming.

And while it would be drastic, Helton's seat at USC could really heat up if they struggle starting a new QB.  Many still aren't sold on him being a good hire and Darnold saved his ass after starting 1-3 in 2017.  And they could go 1-3 again with games at Stanford and Texas and WSU at home in their first 4 games.

Orgeron is another who could get fired early with games against Miami and Auburn in the first 3 weeks.  And he still has to play Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Miss State, and Texas A&M.  The last 3 have new coaches but they inherit solid rosters.