Temperature Check: Coaches On The Hot Seat

Coaches On The Hot Seat

If there is one defining feature of college football fans and administrators alike, its impatience. We’re a mere three weeks into the 2022 college football season and we’ve already seen two coaches, Scott Frost at Nebraska and Herm Edwards at Arizona State, fired among Power Five schools. They assuredly won’t be the only two coaches that do not survive the 2022 coaching cycle.

With the increased revenue for athletic departments and increased influence of big-money donors, coaches have less and less time to make an impact before programs make changes. There’s a list of coaches already on the hot seat for the rest of 2022.

Temperature Check: Coaches On The Hot Seat

For an athletic director, it’s about buyout money and program stability. If it’s clear that the coach isn’t succeeding at getting the program to a certain level, how much money are you and your big-time donors, willing to spend to make a change? With the current landscape of college football, that number continues to grow, shrinking the opportunity that coaches have to build programs even more.

Here’s the list of coaches whose windows are rapidly closing.

Scott Satterfield, Louisville

Satterfield’s on-field performance hasn’t been as dismal as the other coaches on this list. But that’s not the driving factor for him being on the hot seat. Satterfield is 19-21 at Louisville, but his flirtation with South Carolina just a season after arriving at Louisville from Appalachian State did him no favors with Louisville Athletic Director Vince Tyra.

Bobby Petrino compiled a 36-38 record in his second stint in Louisville from 2014-2018. Satterfield was hired to build upon that momentum and compete for an ACC Championship. He has done neither. His 4-7 season in 2020 is the third worst season for Louisville since 1997.

Satterfield’s buyout is not prohibitive either. Depending on proration, Satterfield’s buyout would be between $4.9 and $7 million if dismissed sometime in 2022. With that low of a threshold and such high animosity in Louisville, this Cardinal might be flying away sooner rather than later.

Karl Dorrell, Colorado

The Buffalos have been nothing short of awful this season. Colorado has been outscored by opponents 128-30 so far this season, including a 41-10 drubbing at the hands of Air Force in Week 2 in an emotionally charged game. There’s some bad blood between those two programs, and the Buffs seemed to be unprepared for the hostile environment in Colorado Springs. They were equally unprepared for the weather, which is strange since Boulder is less than 100 miles away from the Air Force campus.

Dorrell is now 8-13 in his third season at Colorado, with 11 losses in his last 15 games. The Buffalos are a program definitely trending in the wrong direction. Dorrell employs bland offenses — even going back to his time at UCLA, hasn’t solidified the starting quarterback as yet, and isn’t a particularly strong recruiter. He was mildly successful at UCLA from 2003-2007, going 35-27, but that was largely based on one season. Out of his five seasons, four of them were 6-6, 7-6, or 6-7. He is the very definition of mediocrity in the college ranks. Think of Dorrell as college football’s version of Jeff Fisher: really nice guy, good resume on paper, good for a good season every fourth or fifth season, but sitting at .500 for the other 80% of the time.

Late Sunday night Colorado Athletic Director Rick George issued a statement to the school’s fan base urging them to stay with the program through the challenging times. That would seem to be a bad sign for Dorell’s future.

His buyout currently sits at $11.4 million until December 31st, when it drops to $7.4 million. That’s pretty steep for Colorado, but remember Nebraska scoffed at saving a cool $7 million in three weeks’ time and went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Frost firing. Money doesn’t seem to be a big concern these days, although some schools have more than others. Regardless of the money, it only seems a matter of time for Dorrell at this point.

Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech

Geoff Collins parlayed two successful seasons at Temple to get the head coaching position at Georgia Tech in 2019. In theory, Georgia Tech should be a decent program. It sits in one of — if not the most — fertile recruiting areas in the nation with only two other schools within a three-hour drive, it belongs to a Power 5 program, is a strong academic school that’s big enough to not have stringent academic constraints, and has a strong football history with four national championships. Heck, John Heisman, the namesake of the most prestigious trophy in all of college football called Georgia Tech home. But Collins hasn’t capitalized on any of that.

Collins is now 10-27 in Atlanta and only has two wins against FBS teams in the past two seasons. He was given some grace for the first two seasons after succeeding Paul Johnson and his Flexbone offense. Certainly, that required a complete overhaul of personnel to implement a more traditional offense. But there is no progress. The Yellowjackets have been outscored 83-10 by their FBS opponents so far in 2022, Collins’s fourth season on North Avenue.

Collins’ buyout would be between $11-12 million depending on proration. It drops to $7.2 million beginning in January of 2023. Like Dorrell, his best bet might be an apathetic donor base. But if Georgia Tech wants to get back to its winning ways, they’ll need to make a move sooner rather than later.

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

It’s strange to say, but Ken Niumatalolo is on the hot seat at Navy. Niumatalolo has been the head coach at Navy for 16 seasons. He is the winningest head coach in Navy history with 105 wins to his credit. But things seem to be getting stale in Annapolis. The Mids are 0-2 this season, with an embarrassing opening week loss to a bad FCS team in Delaware. That followed an embarrassing opening week loss last season to Marshall. Navy has posted four or fewer wins in three of the past four seasons and will likely not get to five wins against this season. Niumatalolo is a solid coach and has turned down both BYU and Arizona in the past. But there comes a time in almost every relationship where it’s time to part ways, and it just seems that time is now for Navy and Niumatalolo.

Niumatalolo’s contract terms aren’t public, but the Navy coach makes approximately $2.1 million per year. His buyout is likely prohibitively lower than Dorrell or Collins’, but a service academy isn’t going to spend several million dollars to fire a coach. Niumatalolo’s strongest card is his 11-4 record against Army, although all four of those losses have come in the last six seasons.

This will be a tough one for both parties, but it looks like the ship has set sail for Niumatalolo at Navy.

Shane Beamer, South Carolina

Nowhere is patience thinner than the fickle crowds of the Southeastern Conference, where every fan base (save Vanderbilt) believes its championship-or-bust every season. Beamer is in only his second season, but things aren’t going well. Beamer was 7-6 last year and the Gamecock fan base was excited with the transfer of Spencer Rattler to Columbia.

But so far in 2022, it’s been disappointment after disappointment. The Gamecocks are 1-2 and have not played well in either of their losses. It’s not going to get easier for them. Five of their remaining seven opponents are ranked in the Top 25, including four ranked 18th or higher. Beamer’s other issue is that he hasn’t handled the stress well. On several occasions, the Gamecocks coaching staff has looked disorganized during game situations and his post-game press conferences are getting more tense by the week.

Like Satterfield, Beamer’s buyout isn’t prohibitive. South Carolina could part ways with Beamer for about $6 million depending on when it happens. South Carolina is still paying former coach Will Muschamp some of his buyout. They might be reticent to pay two buyouts simultaneously, but it’s been done before in the SEC.

In a conference that demands excellence, this rooster might be crowing awfully early.

Not Going to Happen

Bryan Harsin, Auburn. Harsin’s buyout is hovering around $15 million and Auburn still hasn’t hired an Athletic Director. As mad as Auburn fans are, and as tough of a donor landscape as Auburn can be, it isn’t going to happen this season.

Neal Brown, West Virginia. Brown’s buyout before 2023 is approximately $20 million. Not even Texas A&M Would do that.

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