College football hot seat: Could Jeremy Pruitt, Gus Malzahn be fired? Does Ed Orgeron get a pass?

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn (from left to right), Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and LSU coach Ed Orgeron have endured at least one frustrating loss in the 2020 season.Malzahn Pruitt Orgeron
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn (from left to right), Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and LSU coach Ed Orgeron have endured at least one frustrating loss in the 2020 season.Malzahn Pruitt Orgeron /
Coaches hot seat
Coaches hot seat /

College football coaches are feeling the heat as the season draws to an end and these five coaches on the hot seat are facing win or go home scenarios.

We are now into December college football. In normal years, most programs would be waiting on their bowl game or preparing for a conference championship appearance. In 2020, all bets are off the table. However, the one constant is coaches will be fired and we now have seen a couple from the SEC in recent weeks let go.

Texas football coach Tom Herman could be the next to face the firing squad.

Week 14 will continue to push programs closer to the edge and there will be head coaches from beyond the SEC that will be let go as well. There could also be another firing or two from the SEC as well.

It’s wild, it’s unpredictable and it’s frenetic. As college football tries to race to a finish and crown a champion, some programs are going to put some tenures to rest. Who needs a win in Week 14 to avoid suffering an all-too-familiar fate?

College football coaches on the hot seat facing a must-win game

5. Clay Helton – USC

What a weird turn of fortune 2020 could be for Clay Helton. Coming into the year, Helton arguably had one of the hottest seats in college football. Coming out of 2020, Helton might finish the season with an undefeated Trojans squad and go into 2021 with a job still.

USC made a miraculous comeback against Arizona State, did the same thing against Arizona and then put the clamps on Utah. Coronavirus canceled a game against Colorado and now USC is slated to host Washington State this weekend.

If the Trojans take care of business the rest of the way, the program probably gets another year out of him and finds more time to evaluate options. That being said, if he loses to Washington State or UCLA, that conversation should very much be at the forefront. If this year has been a disaster for Jim Harbaugh, it’s been a lucky lotto ticket for Helton.

4. Jeremy Pruitt – Tennessee

The clock could be ticking on Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure at Tennessee. The head coach has seen his program lose five-straight games heading into this week’s showdown at home against No. 6 Florida. They’ve made changes to the coaching staff already this year and the only logical decision for the program to make next is to bring in another face that could maybe turn things around in Knoxville. Suddenly, the thought of Greg Schiano isn’t so bad after all? Anyway, Twitter doesn’t get to pick the next head coach of the program and another loss is probably on tap.

3. Ed Orgeron – LSU

The theme here with Ed Orgeron has been he’s not in trouble of getting canned now, but this season should light a fire under the head coach for next year. LSU looks like a program that lost a ton of talent to the NFL Draft, but at the same time, this type of drop off isn’t as palatable for Orgeron. Falling below Alabama is one thing, but being fifth in the SEC West is another. Regardless of how this season ends, Coach O needs to translate it into a big 2021. Speaking of Alabama, that’s the opponent on hand for LSU this week at home. A great start to a turnaround would be an inspiring performance at home in Baton Rouge.

2. Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

After holding off Texas Tech in a shootout, Oklahoma State will hit the road to take on TCU on Saturday. One more loss would knock the Cowboys likely out of conference title contention and would be a disappointing end for Mike Gundy.

A year that had plenty of promise for Gundy, feels lost after losses to Texas and Oklahoma. This was a chance for Oklahoma State to make noise with the conference getting off to a slow start, but the program lost two games to teams they needed to beat.

Instead, the Sooners have surged past them and now Gundy should be wondering if this is it for his 15 years in Stillwater. A loss to TCU could once again fire up a rather uncomfortable conversation surrounding the head coach. Unless Oklahoma State is content with good-not-great football forever.

1. Gus Malzahn – Auburn

The Auburn Tigers took an absolute beating on the road against Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Bo Nix looked over-matched and the Tigers weren’t able to knock off their rivals one season after taking care of business at home.

At 5-3, Auburn has two regular-season games remaining before bowl season. In many ways, this has been a Malzhan-type season at Auburn. It starts a little rocky, then there’s some consistency and then the season ends and you wonder where the Tigers really stand with their head coach.

It’s one thing to get blown out by Alabama, but losing in the same manner at home to Texas A&M would be a tough pill to swallow on the heels of last week. Malzahn needs a strong finish to the year and to hope the program simply chooses to ride this year out and give him a fresh start in 2021. There are arguments to be made for both sides.

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