Home is where the heart is, and in college football it’s supposed to be where teams have a major advantage over their opponents.
Tell that to the coaches who find themselves on the hot seat here in early November, many of whom were showered with more boos than cheers from the home crowds on Saturday.
Of the eight coaches who made this week’s College Football Hot Seat rankings, six were at home and they went a combined 2-4 — with the two wins coming against lowly nonconference opponents. Neither of those victories did much to cool those seats and, if anything, they contributed to added warmth.
It wasn’t any better for the hot-seated duo coaching on the road, as they lost by a combined 65 points.
Coaches on this list are ranked in order of their likelihood not just to get the boot during the season, but to be sent packing pretty soon. It’s heavily influenced by recent results, which is why North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, whose team is on a bye, isn’t ranked this week.
College Football Hot Seat rankings
8. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
- 2017 record: 4-5, 1-5 Big 12
- Record at school: 28-31 (5th season)
- Last week’s ranking: Not ranked
- The skinny: One of the youngest coaches in FBS, Kliff Kingsbury is 38 and looks like Ryan Gosling. He’s got charm and charisma and he’s a Texas Tech alum, throwing for more than 12,000 yards and 95 touchdowns during the Mike Leach era. But he’s yet to have the same kind of success as Leach or even Tommy Tuberville, who had two winning records in his three seasons prior to Kingsbury’s hiring in 2012. Kingsbury also has two winning seasons but under his guidance the Red Raiders have had more shortcomings than notable performances. And now they’re on a four-game skid, the latest a 42-35 overtime loss at home to Kansas State. After starting 3-0, Tech has dropped five of six and is 0-3 in Lubbock in Big 12 play.
7. David Beaty, Kansas
- 2017 record: 1-7, 0-4 Big 12
- Record at school: 3-29 (3rd season)
- Last week’s ranking: 8th
- The skinny: Kansas isn’t going win another game this season, its best chance going out the window on Saturday when it was blasted 38-9 at home by previously winless Baylor. The Jayhawks’ remaining three games include two ranked opponents and two on the road, where they haven’t won since 2009. David Beaty faced a major challenge when he took this job in 2015 and the small bit of progress he showed last season can’t be seen anymore. Three field goals and 289 yards were all Kansas could muster against a Baylor team that was allowing 39.5 points 503.3 yards per game. It was the third time in four games the Jayhawks didn’t score a touchdown.
6. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
- 2017 record: 4-5, 1-4 SEC
- Record at school: 29-31 (5th season)
- Last week’s ranking: Not ranked
- The skinny: A win is a win, right? Usually, but not when it requires a fourth-quarter comeback at home against a first-year FBS program. Don’t tell that to Arkansas’ social media folks, though, who didn’t mind bragging “Got the W.” Still, Arkansas will take any victories it can get, even if they’re incredibly ugly. The Razorbacks did that last week in rallying at Ole Miss and were equally suspect in squeaking out a 39-38 win over Coastal Carolina, a game that — had they not pulled it out — would have been a fireable offense for Bret Bielema. Bielema’s job is far from safe despite Arkansas’ first two-game win streak since last September. He still has two win two of three against a lineup of LSU (on the road), Mississippi State and Missouri just to be bowl-eligible.
Got the W.
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) November 4, 2017
5. Jim Mora, UCLA
- 2017 record: 4-5, 2-4 Pac-12
- Record at school: 45-29 (6th season)
- Last week’s ranking: 7th
- The skinny: We got a glimpse of what the post-Josh Rosen era would look like at UCLA on Friday night in a 48-14 loss at Utah, and it wasn’t pretty. Not because Devon Modster looked bad in starting for the concussed Bruins quarterback, but because everything else with UCLA looks even worse without Rosen around to save face. UCLA coach Jim Mora has been a staunch defender of Rosen, calling out ESPN broadcaster Brock Huard this past week for his comments about Rosen’s toughness. And with Rosen all but guaranteed to be turning pro after this season —heck, he might just do so now like UCLA linebacker Myles Jack did a few years ago— it only makes sense that Mora will depart Westwood around the same time. Mora’s teams haven’t won a Pac-12 road game since November 2015 and this year’s defense is monumentally bad against the run, allowing more than 303 yards per game on the ground with a touchdown yielded every 18.2 carries.
4. David Bailiff, Rice
- 2017 record: 1-8, 1-4 Conference USA
- Record at school: 57-77 (11th season)
- Last week’s ranking: 4th
- The skinny: In a season full of brutally bad performances by Rice, Saturday’s 52-21 loss at UAB might have been the most embarrassing. The Owls’ seventh consecutive defeat came against a program that didn’t have football the last two years and, while 6-3 overall, has losses to two opponents (Ball State and Charlotte) who haven’t beat anyone else at the FBS level. That’s fitting because Rice’s only win, 31-14 at UTEP in Week 2, came against a team that is winless. UTEP forced its coach out not long after that, and the same should probably be happening soon with David Bailiff. Bailiff has had some really good years with the Owls, including in 2013 when they won Conference USA, but over the past three seasons they are 9-24.
3. Mike Riley, Nebraska
- 2017 record: 4-5, 3-3 Big Ten
- Record at school: 19-16 (3rd year)
- Last week’s ranking: Not ranked
- The skinny: There are a few things Nebraska fans hold more sacred than anything else: running the ball frequently and effectively and winning at home in front of sellout after sellout. The Cornhuskers are doing neither this season under Mike Riley, and that doesn’t make for great job security. Saturday’s 31-24 overtime loss to Northwestern dropped Nebraska to 2-4 at home with three consecutive defeats. The previous two were blowouts to Wisconsin and Ohio State by a combined 63 points. Against Northwestern, the ‘Huskers ran for 112 yards, their most since September but still well below traditional program totals. Nebraska’s 121 yards per game average would be its worst for a season since 2005, during the ill-fated Bill Callahan era. Combine that with new athletic director Bill Moos publicly raving about UCF coach Scott Frost, a Nebraska alum, and Riley’s time in Lincoln is running out.
2. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
- 2017 record: 5-4, 3-3 SEC
- Record at school: 49-25 (6th season)
- Last week’s ranking: 5th
- The skinny: It doesn’t matter who the opponents were, losing three consecutive home games in the SEC isn’t the work of a coach that’s going to have his job much longer. Kevin Sumlin’s Texas A&M team looked valiant in losing 24-19 to Alabama last month, but in double-digit losses to Mississippi State last week and on Saturday to Auburn, the Aggies were clearly the inferior team. Once again the Aggies are in a second-half swoon, which had been the case in the previous three seasons after hot first halves. And with only one victory over an FBS team with a winning record, there hasn’t been enough seen from the 2017 group to believe Sumlin is still getting the best out of his players. The 42-27 loss to Auburn saw A&M make a quarterback switch, which led to some improvement on offense, but the defense and special teams just ended up atoning for that with worse play.
1. Butch Jones, Tennessee
- 2017 record: 4-5, 0-5 SEC
- Record at school: 34-25 (5th season)
- Last week’s ranking: 1st
- The skinny: If you’re a Tennessee fan, you no doubt have mixed feelings about Saturday’s 24-10 home win over Southern Mississippi. On one hand, it ended the Volunteers’ four-game losing streak, and they remain in contention to make a bowl game. But is that really what the goal should be of this team, one that Butch Jones has run into the ground and which hasn’t beat a power-conference team since the season opener against Georgia Tech? And should you really be happy about only gaining 210 yards against a middle-of-the-pack Conference USA squad? Jones could have been fired numerous times this fall but he’s still on the job, and he apparently isn’t going to play it safe. He pulled the redshirt of quarterback Will McBride, who went 1-of-8 for 13 yards, which didn’t go over well with fans or SEC Network folks.
Top seat-cooling performance
Missouri 45, Florida 16
Sometimes all it takes is a lame-duck opponent to help brighten things up for a struggling team and its embattled coach. Missouri and second-year coach Barry Odom can attest to this, since Florida and its rudderless offense came to Columbia at the perfect time, and suddenly the Tigers are in contention for a bowl bid after starting 1-5.
Five straight losses saw Mizzou allow 210 points before it hit the soft part of the schedule against nonconference foes Idaho and Connecticut. Then Florida fired Jim McElwain last weekend and the Gators became a team with nothing to play for, and the Tigers took full advantage.
Mizzou’s remaining games are against Tennessee, at Vanderbilt and at Arkansas, all of whom have struggled this season. At 4-5 it needs to win two of those, which doesn’t look as difficult as it seemed a few weeks ago.
Hot Seat Game of the Week
North Carolina at Pittsburgh (Thursday, Nov. 9; 7:30 p.m. ET)
Larry Fedora has been on the hot seat all season, only absent from our rankings this week because North Carolina didn’t play in Week 10. But he’ll no doubt be on there again next time regardless of how the Tar Heels do in a Thursday trip to face another struggling ACC team.
With a 1-8 record and a winless league mark, one victory isn’t going to do much to improve Fedora’s chances. Another loss may just be the death knell since UNC will have had extra time to prepare.
The situation isn’t as dire for Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi, especially since the Panthers (4-5, 2-3) won two straight before the bye. Losing to a likely lame duck coach, though, would sour things for the third-year coach.