For some coaches, 2014 is a now-or-never year. As salaries go up, so do expectations to win—and win immediately.
Of course, that's not always possible. Some coaches inherit bad programs, miss on some key recruits and/or make some bad hires that make life more difficult. Oftentimes, it's a combination of things.
There are plenty of coaches on the hot seat this year and even more whose seats are getting slightly toasty. Which ones have the best chance of orchestrating a dramatic turnaround to cool things off? Below are a few names considered to have the hottest seats heading into the season.
Charlie Weis, Kansas
As strange as it may sound, perhaps Weis' hot seat isn't scorching despite winning just four games in two years. He took over a Kansas program that had taken several steps back under Turner Gill. Weis tried a quick fix with a JUCO-heavy recruiting class in 2013, but that only led to a 3-9 record.
Weis has some pieces to work with, though. He's named sophomore Montell Cozart the starting quarterback, and Cozart has tremendous upside as a dual threat. Overall, though, the Jayhawks could have the same problems this year that they had last year—a decent enough defense, but not enough offense to stay competitive (the Jayhawks ranked 123rd nationally in third-down conversion percentage).
It's tough to become bowl eligible if the defense has to stay on the field and carry the team all season.
Can Kansas become bowl eligible in 2014? Not without a major improvement on offense. On paper, that doesn't look like it's happening.
Projected Turnaround: One Game (4-8)
|Coach (School)||2013 Record||Overall Record|
|Will Muschamp (Florida)||4-8||23-16|
|Tim Beckman (Illinois)||4-8||6-18|
|Charlie Weis (Kansas)||3-9||4-20|
Tim Beckman, Illinois
Six wins in two years would put just about any coach on the hot seat. Illinois coach Tim Beckman took it to another level by retaining his defensive coordinator, Tim Banks, even though the team finished 112th in total defense and 105th in scoring defense last year.
Priority No. 1, then, is shoring up that side of the ball. It could be viewed as a bad thing that eight starters off last year's defense return, but it helps with consistency and growth.
There should be more confidence on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has a majority of his offensive line returning and Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt at quarterback. Finding playmakers at receiver is going to be the biggest challenge.
The Illini have plenty of winnable games through the first half of the season, so if they can pull off one or two upsets, they can make it back to a bowl. Even getting close would probably save Beckman's job.
Projected Turnaround: Two Games: (6-6)
Which coach is most likely to keep their job after 2014?
Will Muschamp, Florida
Well, 2013 was certainly a disaster for the Florida Gators, wasn't it? Will Muschamp's team finished 4-8 and lost to Georgia Southern. At home. Whilst two Gators blocked each other.
The reset button: It's been pushed.
But the 2014 Gators could look much different, and in a good way. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper comes to Gainesville from Duke to incorporate an up-tempo spread attack. If it can implemented and executed immediately, that should take the pressure off the defense, which has been forced to keep Florida in games recently.
According to B/R's Barrett Sallee, Roper and the offense accomplished their spring goals and head into fall practice in good shape:
Spring was the time for installation with fall camp becoming the "fine-tuning" phase of the offense. Driskel and the wide receivers picked up on the offense and what its goals were this spring, and they can tweak as needed this summer.
If the Gators can stay healthy, a major problem last season, Roper's new offense should provide the spark this program needs to get on the right side of .500. And Muschamp will feel his seat cool down considerably.
Projected Turnaround: Four Games (8-4)
Other coaches who need big turnarounds: Mike London, Virginia; Norm Chow, Hawaii; Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.