College football hot seat watch: 5 coaches facing a must-win game in Week 15

Coaches hot seat
Coaches hot seat /

Tom Herman and Jim Harbaugh may have survived the hot seat — for now — but some other college football coaches find themselves facing a must-win to help their job security.

As the college football season into the second week of December, more coaches will be joining the unemployment line. Multiple coaches have already been given a pink slip as programs begin to look to build a new future. For coaches still on the hot seat, Week 15 could be the end.

It’s the final week of the regular season for some programs that are ready to oust a head coach. Week 15 can also be the last stand for some coaches on the hot seat if a program remains undecided as to their future.

And for those fortunate few with a massive buyout at a school not so eager to pay it, they might be safe by default. However, that doesn’t mean opinions can’t change if the outcome is disastrous enough. Here are the coaches in need of a win in Week 15.

College football coaches sitting on the hot seat

Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech

After a 4-2 start to the season, Virginia Tech has dropped four-straight games and is in a free fall under Justin Fuente. Once one of the most promising hires, Fuente is now on shaky ground as the Hokies lack the consistency they had under Frank Beamer.

Ending the season on a five-game losing streak would be an indictment of where things are heading for the program. This isn’t a case where Virginia Tech only played four or five games on the season and you could give a pass for an almost empty schedule.

They’re still slated to end up playing 11 games and that’s enough of a sample size on the year to understand the program has things to sort out. Tech will play Virginia at home to round out the season. Can Fuente end the season with a resounding win?

Scott Frost – Nebraska

A week after defeating Purdue, Scott Frost has a chance to end 2020 on a high note. Nebraska has a home game against Minnesota to close things out this weekend. While it’s been another disappointing year for Frost, going out with a couple of wins in a year that is far from normal may be enough to sway decision-makers to allow him to stay around for another year.

The important thing here is to win because a 2-6 campaign in a year where Frost needed to make some noise is going to be tough to come back from. The guy brought in to be the savior of the program is 11-19 through three seasons. Now the savior is trying to save his job.

Gus Malzahn – Auburn

Gus Malzahn is one of the most interesting case studies when it comes to the hot seat. Some weeks you think he’s pretty secure in his spot and then others you say “yeah…well..?” and there really isn’t any middle ground.

To his credit, he coaches in the toughest division in football and his teams still finish with respectable records. Malzahn should probably be given another year based on it being 2020 alone, but a bad loss to Mississippi State that would mark a three-game losing streak would be starting 2021 off on the wrong foot.

Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

Once Oklahoma State lost to Texas on Halloween, the wheels fell off for any big dreams on the season. Since then, the Cowboys have lost to rival Oklahoma and then added another lost to TCU. It’s starting to feel a bit normal in Stillwater? Good enough to just fall short of the big one.

In a nutshell that’s the Mike Gundy experience. No playoff, no conference title and what really do the Cowboys hang their hat on this season? Just being good most weeks and nothing really else to show for it? These are the seasons where the Cowboys have to take advantage of circumstance and they didn’t.

Kevin Sumlin – Arizona

The Arizona Wildcats might not pay Kevin Sumlin the buyout it would take to fire him. If that buyout didn’t exist, Sumlin would probably be gone by now. Instead, he still has a chance to buy himself time in Tucson.

Sumlin’s Wildcats have lost 11 straight dating back to last season and now face rival Arizona State in the Territorial Cup on Friday. A loss would hand Arizona a winless season and its 12th-straight loss as it scrambles for answers. There was optimism when Sumlin was brought over from the SEC. An 11-game losing streak wasn’t probably what they expected either.

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