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2023 College Football Coaching Carousel Update: Who's seat is the warmest entering the home stretch?

Credit: Texas A&M athletics

With the season in the home stretch it’s time to look at which coaches are on the verge of potentially being let go when the season ends.

Here are a few names, but more could emerge before the season ends as well.

Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M)

Fisher is the most high-profile name on the hot seat. He hasn’t won more than nine games since arriving in College Station in 2018. There is a small asterisk because his best team was the one he had in 2020, but the season was cut short because of the pandemic, so the Aggies ended up going 9-1.

Overall, he’s gone 43-24 overall and 25-20 in the SEC up to this point overall. The Aggies made a massive investment in Fisher and gave him a 10-year contract, and with an extension paid him over $90 million. The Aggies have recruited incredibly well and in 2022 had a historic recruiting class when it comes to overall ranking, but the on-field product hasn’t lived up to the hype at all since he’s been there.

This year has been no different, but he might be able to buy time because his recruits are only sophomores, and they lost their starting quarterback for the year. The Aggies are ready to potentially move on from him according to a report by Bruce Feldman, but still, the buyout for his contract is massive with it being $76.8 million and it goes down each year around $9-$10 million each year through 2030.

The money is a major factor in this decision.

Sam Pittman (Arkansas)

The Arkansas fanbase has gotten very loud when it comes Sam Pittman, and the frustration has come from how the team seems to have fallen off a cliff this season.

To Pittman's credit he elevated this program from the ashes left by former head coach Chad Morris. They won three games in the 2020 Covid season when Arkansas played SEC only games (Morris hadn't won a league game in the previous two seasons) and had a 9-4 record in 2021.

Still, after a 3-0 start last year the Hogs limped to the finish line, finishing 7-6 overall, and right now Arkansas is 2-6 and not much has gone right for them. The biggest concern was the offense and Pittman might’ve bought himself some time by firing Dan Enos heading into the bye week on Sunday, but the biggest concern is the fact that Sam Pittman has a history as an offensive line coach and the worst part about the Arkansas offense and the team in general is the offensive line. There’s nothing good that’s happened behind this line. KJ Jefferson has no time to pass the ball and the Razorbacks have had trouble running the ball too. KJ Jefferson is a genuinely good quarterback, but he hasn’t had any help at all.

The bottom line is this program needs to start winning games, and start winning them in a hurry. The Mississippi State loss on Saturday was crippling, as the Hogs will now have to win out - which would include a victory over Top 25 Missouri, and a win at the Swamp against Florida - to get bowl eligible.

Tom Allen (Indiana)

The Hoosiers are dead last in the Big Ten East and have shown some signs of life, but they just got blown out at home against Rutgers. They are 0-4 in the Big Ten and they have a 2-5 record overall. They don’t seem like anything is going to get fixed this season and their upcoming schedule is very difficult.

Overall, Allen has had two winning seasons as the head coach in Bloomington and they were in 2019 with an 8-5 record and in 2020 during the covid season where they went 6-2. It's worth noting, the 2019 season, Allen had Kalen Deboer as his offensive coordinator, and 2020, Michael Penix thrived in Bloomington, prior to a late, season-ending injury.

He also has an overall record of 32-45 and a 17-39 record in the Big Ten. The issue with Allen is, if he's fired who can Indiana realistically get? His buyout is over $20 million and in the new Big Ten (which will soon include USC, Oregon and, ironically, DeBoer's Washington Huskies) there are a lot of good teams to climb over.

The bottom line is, there isn't much hope with Allen - but will it really get better with a new coach? We may soon find out the answer in Bloomington.

Dana Holgorsen (Houston)

Holgorsen has been in Houston since 2019 and the Cougars won 12 games in 2021 and only lost two. The cracks started to show last season in 2022 when the Cougars were widely considered to be the best Group of Five team in college football, but underperformed and won seven games in the regular season and then eight total games after their bowl game as well.

Now in the Big 12, the Cougars are trending downward - although they did nearly pull off the upset against Texas last Saturday (what a brutal call on that spot, by the way, huh?). Still, they're just 3-4 this season with a loss to Rice, and if it weren't for a Hail Mary against West Virginia would be winless in league play.

Holgorsen has a massive buyout, but Houston also hasn't been afraid to make a bold move before (anyone remember the Major Applewhite years?). So this one will be worth monitoring down the stretch.

Neal Brown (West Virginia)

Coming into the year, Brown was No. 1 on our list, only to coach himself off of it almost entirely with a 4-1 start, with only a loss at Penn State to open the season. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers have now lost two in a row - including being on the wrong side of that Houston Hail Mary - and sit at 4-3 on the year.

Welcome to the ebbs and flows of hot seat season, people.

The good news for Brown is that the rest of the schedule is manageable, with only a trip to Oklahoma in mid-November lurking as a seemingly unwinnable game. Seven, and maybe even eight wins are on the table for this team.

The question is, what would happen if this team hit the six-win mark again, something Brown has now done three times in his time at West Virginia, but never topped. Would being average, again, be enough for him to retain his job at this prideful program?

It's especially interesting to note that Brown's hot seat year comes in a season when former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez has Jacksonville State rolling in its first year of FCS football.

Maybe it means nothing. Or maybe, it's something worth keeping an eye on. Hmm.

Dino Babers (Syracuse)

Incredibly, we're in Year 8 of the Babers era at Syracuse, and it's hard to know exactly what to make of this program. They are coming off a bowl appearance, just the second of the Babers era. However, after a hot 4-0 start, they have lost their last three, admittedly to all tough opposition (Clemson, North Carolina and Florida State).

With a manageable back half (no ranked teams) it seems in play that the Orange will get to a second straight bowl game. If not, it would be hard to justify bringing back Babers for Year 9. The one thing worth noting is that in this era of endless booster and TV funds, Syracuse a - small, private school, in upstate New York - isn't flush with the cash that some other schools are.

Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus


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