Randy Smith: Coaches On The Hot Seat

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Back in the summer when we didn't know if we would even have college football in 2020, I figured every coach would have a free pass to 2021. After all, who could realistically coach with the added pressure of COVID-19 staring them in the face. Boy was I ever wrong. South Carolina's firing of Coach Will Muschamp this week has started moving the coaching carousel and there could be others by year's end getting a pink slip as well. So, I've prepared a list of five coaches who could be the next to go, either this year or next.

1. Derek Mason-Vanderbilt
Mason's team is still winless after six games and looking at the rest of the schedule, it's hard to find one victory at all for the Commodores.
Mason has always found a way to win a game or two to be able to stay employed in Nashville, but it's going to be really tough to do it again. This week the Florida Gators provide the competition and the only team Vandy has a chance against the rest of the way is Tennessee. (More on that later)

2. Jim Harbaugh-Michigan
The Wolverines are a really bad football team. They are 1-3 so far this season and they're coming off a 49-11 loss to 10th-ranked Wisconsin last weekend. That loss prompted Harbaugh to announce he's going to have to re-evaluate his program. Harbaugh has had six seasons to get it done at Michigan and he has not delivered. The pressure is really mounting and he could be gone by the end of the year.

3. James Franklin-Penn State
Franklin may get a pass until next year because he has produced a few winners. But the 0-4 start to the 2020 season has a lot of folks in Happy Valley disappointed. Maybe Franklin could get his old job back at Vanderbilt, or rumors tell us he could be the top choice to replace Muschamp at South Carolina. Stay tuned.

4.  Gus Malzahn-Auburn
It seems like Gus Malzahn is on the coaches' hot seat every year and, even though the Tigers are 4-2 so far, his rear end is staying pretty hot. A win every few years or so against Alabama has saved him before and, while there are still plenty of disgruntled fans down on the Plains, it could be next year before a move is made.

5. Jeremy Pruitt-Tennessee
Do you realize that if the Vols finish 3-7, it would be the fewest wins in a season for Tennessee since they won three games as a member of the old Southern Conference in 1924? Of course, they could also be 2-8 if they lose to Vandy. Pruitt will get at least one more year, but he will enter the 2021 season with one of the hottest seats in the country. I look for him to re-evaluate his coaching staff at some point, but I believe the problems could be far greater than his coaching staff. If he chooses to play Harrison Bailey at quarterback, things could improve dramatically. but only time will tell.

There are others who are feeling pressure, but these are the most prominent so far. 

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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