The college football season is winding down and the bowl picture is beginning to take shape.
Five teams have underachieved mightily this season and their coaches may be on the hot seat entering the last few weeks.
To save their season, as well as their jobs, these coaches are going to have to win some key games down the stretch.
Here are five head coaches that should be on the hot seat by the end of the month.
Southern Mississippi Head Coach Ellis Johnson.
The perennial powerhouse in the Conference USA over the years has been the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.
Last season they Golden Eagles went 12-2 including a decisive win over a very talented Nevada team in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
First-year Head coach Ellis Johnson has struggled this season posting an 0-7 record in a very weak Conference USA.
With the departure of Larry Fedora last season, Johnson has had trouble finding ways to win in what could end up being one of the worst teams in Southern Miss history.
Johnson has over twenty years experience as a defensive coordinator, but has spent some time riding the coaches’ carousel.
With all that experience, why are the Golden Eagles allowing a ridiculous 39 points per game against their defense?
This is a team that averaged 20.7 points per game last season and had a reasonable amount of starters returning this season.
Their rushing offense remains one of the best in the conference. The school’s purpose in bringing in Johnson was to solidify the defense.
So far, he’s done the opposite.
Southern Miss travels to Rice this Saturday. If Johnson cannot secure a victory against a 2-6 (0-4 C-USA) Rice squad, he’ll be on his way out of Hattiesburg after the season.
Boston College Head Coach Frank Spaziani.
Spaziani inherited a 9-5 Boston College team when he took the head coaching job in 2009.
He had one of the best defenses in the country and an energized Alumni Stadium.
Fast-forward three years.
Boston College has a 1-6 (0-4 ACC) record with their only win coming against division 1-AA Maine.
Their rushing game only gives them 93 yards a game and their defense is atrocious, allowing over 33 points per game.
What we’re seeing in this year’s Eagles team are Spaziani’s recruits after the departure of Jeff Jagodzinski’s top classes.
However, Boston College has continued their aerial output from previous years with a passing offensive that posts 278.1 yards per game.
Their defense, though, is what has been killing them, letting up more than 30 points in five of their seven games.
Unless Spaziani can pull off a victory against Maryland at home on Saturday, he’ll be sitting down on one of the hottest seats in college football.
Pittsburgh Head Coach Paul Chryst.
The Pittsburgh Panthers were responsible for one of the greatest games in Youngstown State history on Sept. 1. Not exactly a statement first-year head football coach Paul Chryst was trying to make.
Since then, Pitt has gone 3-3 with no conference wins.
Chryst inherited a team full of pure talent, a team that for whatever reason has been lacking consistent production on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Tino Sunseri has been a monster, throwing for 10 TDs, 1878 yards, and compiling a passer rating of 159.6.
The Panther defense is competitive, playing right up there with Rutgers for best in the conference.
The 3-4 record this talented team has falls directly on Coach Chryst.
Pitt plays an angry Temple team Saturday coming of a shellacking by #15 Rutgers.
If Chryst can’t get his team to start winning, he’ll likely not be returning as head coach next season.
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson.
Since 2008, Paul Johnson has been the face of Georgia Tech football. The genius of the Tech triple option offense, Johnson’s days could be numbered in Atlanta.
Johnson coached the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 (7-1 ACC) record in his second season at Tech in 2009.
The last three years the Yellow Jackets have underachieved to the point where Johnson’s job may be in question.
This season is turning out to be one of the worst in Johnson’s five years.
Two overtime losses to middle-tier ACC opponents in Virginia Tech and Miami have left Tech in an upwards battle to clinch a bowl berth.
Their traditionally solid defense has fallen to the bottom third in points against in the ACC, while their offense remains strong.
The Yellow Jackets play an underrated Brigham Young squad on Saturday. A victory here would solidify Johnson’s return for next season while a loss could place him on the hot seat.
Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley.
Few teams in sports have a historic tradition of winning like the Volunteers. Tennessee fans expect a lot from their football team, especially after a decade of great recruiting classes.
This season has been a huge disappointment to say the least.
The Volunteers are 3-4 and have yet to win a conference game in the SEC.
Preseason Heisman hopeful Tyler Bray has been streaky and the defense has lacked intensity.
The Vols are ranked ninety-ninth in college football in points against per game and have been unable to stop the pass.
Tennessee does have one of the harder schedules in football, having played five ranked teams up to this point.
The Vols travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina on Saturday. Dooley could really use a signature win against a Gamecocks team that has been impressive.
After South Carolina, Tennessee plays Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, teams whose record resembles their own.
If Tennessee can’t pull out a victory in Columbia, Dooley will surely take his place on a scalding hot seat.