Graphic by Mike Meredith
It was yet another offseason of significant turnover in college football, this one despite some expectation that the COVID-19 pandemic would lead programs to clutch their purses. Seventeen programs — 13% of the FBS — changed coaches, which means there’s a large swath entering honeymoon year with their new schools. Couple that with a number of programs who saw limited action last season, and there will be plenty of fresh faces giving it a full go for the first time.
As such, the 2021 Hot Seat Rankings should be noted for their coolness with 74 coaches — nearly 57% of the FBS — rated 0 or 1, meaning they are either “virtually untouchable” or “safe and secure”.
The Hot Seat has long been an accurate predictor in terms of job security. Over the last six years, 20 of the 38 coaches rated 4 or worse (53%) eventually lost their jobs with a number of repeat candidates atop this season’s list.
Entering the 2021 season, there are only nine coaches on the proverbial hot seat (rating of 4 or higher). However, you can be sure there will be far more than nine coaching changes as that damn coaching carousel is always spinning.
In addition to the full set of rankings below, we have detailed the nine coaches sitting on the hottest seats ahead of the 2021 campaign, though there is also a group “Notable 3s” to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Leading that short list is UCLA’s Chip Kelly, who jumped off the hot seat entering Year Four but only holds a 10-21 record through three seasons while costing the Bruins a pretty penny contractually. Dana Holgorsen was seen a coup for Houston, but he enters Year Three with a 7-13 record. David Cutcliffe is a made man at Duke, but would a third straight season under .500 for the first time in a decade be too much to excuse? Purdue was pleased to see Jeff Brohm go .500 through his first two seasons, but a 6-12 record since is concerning. Then there’s Dino Babers, who shocked the world with a 10-3 campaign for Syracuse in 2018 and surprised just as many with a 1-10 effort in 2020.
Below you can see where all 130 FBS coaches stand before the season begins. Check out the ratings key first and see where every coach in college football ranks with kickoff scheduled in less than two months.
Win or be fired
Start improving now
Pressure is mounting
All good … for now
Safe and secure
The table below is arranged in alphabetical order by school. Listed is each coach’s win-loss record at his current program and the number of years he’s led that team prior to 2021. If the coach has seen his rating change from the 2020 season, the old rating is listed in parenthesis. Asterisks (*) note that games won/lost as an interim coach immediately preceding a full-time hiring are included.