College football season keeps on rolling. We’ve already reached our fourth full weekend of games, so teams are already starting to dream up travel plans to exotic bowl destinations. The season has also been a bit of a wake-up call to some coaches of the nation’s more elite programs, one that’s gotten them thinking of vacations as well…trips that could be a bit more permanent. Here are five coaches who are feeling the heat after a poor start to the year.
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
Brohm has, at the very least, gotten people talking about Boilermaker football again. In 2017, the former XFL great guided the program to their first winning season and postseason victory since 2011. History failed to repeat itself in his sophomore campaign, but Purdue still got people talking with a win over Ohio State that might’ve caused seismic changes to the 2018 College Football Playoff picture. This season, however, has provided cause for concern. The Boilermakers opened the year by blowing a big lead to Nevada and looked lost last weekend against TCU. Purdue management has been patient with coaches (Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell each got four seasons), but with big talents on display, impatience could get the best of them.
Chip Kelly, UCLA
Normally, you’re supposed to wait until the third year to add logs to the fire under the hot seat, but the Bruins can’t afford to tolerate much more of this. Kelly’s 3-9 debut was understandable, considering UCLA was one of the youngest teams in the nation operating under a new (and unconventional) coach. They did manage to cap it off positively with a win over USC, but it has been downhill since. In 2019, they’ve fallen to AAC Cincinnati for the second straight year and lost a visit from San Diego State by two possessions. No one was expecting a miracle last week, but a 48-14 shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma was even more listless than the scoreboard made it seem. Kelly needs to start putting together some more consistent result, but the road doesn’t get any easier with a visit to ranked Washington State looming this weekend.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Being the head coach at Vanderbilt– known for more for its academics than athletics– in the cutthroat world of SEC football is like being a stormtrooper in the Star Wars franchise: you might see something exciting along the way, but you’re mostly avoiding trying to be cannon fodder. Mason has done a respectable job over the past six years after taking over for current Penn State head coach James Franklin. However, he has yet to earn a winning record in that span. He’s made some good memories, including an active three-game winning streak against rival Tennessee, the Commodores’ first since the 1920s, but more is needed at this point of his career.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee
The fires from Pruitt’s seat in Knoxville could warm fans well into the winter. Another second-year coach in big trouble, Pruitt fell into hot water after dropping a pair of shoo-in games against Georgia State and BYU. A supposed defensive guru after two years overseeing Alabama’s units, the Volunteers have seen defensive lapses cost them big victories. The biggest shame is that his defenders have shown they’re capable of big things, evidenced by a big 24-7 win over Kentucky last year. A walkover against Chattanooga helped the Vols finally enter the win column, but things get much, much harder with the commencement of conference play.
Willie Taggart, Florida State
It’s time to start wondering if Taggart can not only get things done in Tallahassee, but whether he can do it at the major levels entirely. Including a one-year stint with Oregon, Taggart is 13-14 in two-plus seasons in the Power Five. His second Seminoles seasons has begun quite dubiously, to the tune of a blown multi-possession lead against Boise State and a narrow loss to Virginia. The fact his one 2019 win so far came via late home dramatics against Louisiana-Monroe is cause for concern as well. FSU fans young and old have voiced their displeasure, with one junior fan taking up a lemonade stand in an attempt to purchase Taggart’s $17 million contract buyout.