Ranking the 5 college football coaches with the most to prove in 2024

Nothing stirs the collective ire of the Ohio State fanbase than a Michigan national championship. Can Ryan Day turn the tables in 2024?
Nothing stirs the collective ire of the Ohio State fanbase than a Michigan national championship. Can Ryan Day turn the tables in 2024? / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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It was barely more than two weeks ago that Michigan was crowned national champions, but the college football season never really ends. Head coaches are on the move, new recruits are being signed, and the transfer portal is in full swing.

The coaching carousel has already been more out of control than the one in Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Jimbo Fisher and his sizeable buyout are out at Texas A&M, with former Duke coach Mike Elko taking his place after the Aggies' doomed dalliance with Kentucky coach Mike Stoops.

Kalen DeBoer led the Washington Huskies to a national runner-up finish, then jumped ship to fill the shoes of Nick Saban, the greatest college football coach of all time, at Alabama. Jedd Fisch took DeBoer's place in Washington after leading Arizona to an improbable 10-3 finish that included an Alamo Bowl win over Oklahoma. Jim Harbaugh could be leaving Michigan for the NFL any minute now.

The College Football Playoff is expanding to 12 teams next season. For fans whose teams have been left out in the past, this is an exciting development. For coaches, though, it's a scary proposition. More teams in the dance equals raised expectations, and for so many coaches that face intense scrutiny from rabid fanbases, the pressure will be ratcheted up to get in on the action.

Like it or not, college football has become big business. The stakes have never been higher, and for the following five coaches in particular, the upcoming season carries extra weight. Without further ado, here are the five coaches with the most to prove in 2024.

5. Mario Cristobal, Miami

We start with a school that has struggled to regain its former glory. The Miami Hurricanes have been in college football purgatory since the Ken Dorsey days, and a slew of coaching changes have done nothing to change that. The hope among the Hurricanes faithful was that the hiring of Mario Cristobal would restore "The U" to its pedestal atop the college football world, but thus far, the results have been underwhelming.

Cristobal's recruiting ability can't be questioned, but his acumen for bringing talent to Coral Gables hasn't yet translated to success on the field. In two years with the Hurricanes, Cristobal is only 12-13, but more damning still is that his replacement at Oregon, Dan Lanning, has guided the Ducks to a 22-5 record with two bowl wins since Cristobal left.

Cristobal again has a top-five recruiting class lined up, which makes 2024 a make-or-break year. Miami fans are tired of winning the offseason and then being a middling ACC team. The fact that Mike Norvell led the Hurricanes' chief rival, Florida State, to an undefeated regular season this past year doesn't help.

Cristobal's predecessors, Manny Diaz and Mark Richt, each lasted only three years before being replaced. This coming season will be Cristobal's third. Hurricanes fans aren't expecting a national championship just yet, but he needs to show that the program is heading in the right direction.