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Scott Frost among coaches on the hot seat as college football kicks off

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

August 30th, 2021

The football coaching profession is hard and sometimes unjust. Bad bounces and untimely losses can put any coach on the hot seat with fans and administrators alike wondering if a different leader could change a team’s fortunes.

As we head into the 2021 season, let’s take a look at five college football coaches who are on the hot seat this fall.

Scott Frost (Nebraska) 

Scott Frost is now in his fourth season at Nebraska, and to say his tenure is off to a rough start is an understatement. A still-proud program hasn’t won a conference championship in 20 years, and the golden child from those 90’s-era Nebraska teams hasn’t done anything to offer hope of a return to glory.

Frost has the second-worst coaching percentage in Nebraska coaching history, and kicked off the 2021 season with a disappointing loss to Illinois. Turnovers, penalties, poor special teams, and a regressing third-year starting quarterback have become the hallmarks of this coaching campaign. It is a disappointing legacy for a team that has out-recruited the rest of the Big Ten West during Frost’s tenure.

Frost’s contract status gives him some security for a program that has spent big to pay out former coaches and is building expensive new facilities, but the tolerance for losses is lessening in Lincoln. As Frost struggles on the field and rumors begin to swirl about his antics off it, look for a lot of talk out of Nebraska about whether there is any light at the end of the tunnel for this once-dominant program.

Herm Edwards (Arizona State) 

It appears as though Herm Edwards will be starting the season relatively unscathed and it is unlikely the Sun Devils look to remove him at any point midseason, but following recruiting violations that have three of his assistant coaches on administrative leave, Edwards has raised the temperature of his seat out in the desert.

Edwards has been an excellent recruiter and guided the Sun Devils back to relevance with a good defense and an exciting young quarterback, but if things take a turn for the worse in the investigation or the Sun Devils show serious cracks in the overall wellbeing of the program, Edwards may find himself pushed back to retirement.

Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)

Jim Harbaugh had success in the NFL before returning to his alma mater in an attempt to resurrect an elite blue blood of the sport.

Unfortunately for Harbaugh, the Ohio State Buckeyes have been a perennial stick in his tire spoke. Entering his seventh season in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh has accumulated a 49-22 record but is just 34-16 in conference play. He is also just 1-10 against top 10 teams, and 0-5 against the Buckeyes. Harbaugh led his team to a 2-4 record in 2020, and while they should be competitive in 2021, they don’t have the look of a true title contender.

If Michigan underperforms and struggles to a .500-level season, Harbaugh may very well wear out his welcome.

Dino Babers (Syracuse) 

It is hard to win football games in Syracuse, but after a 10-win season in 2018 that set higher than normal expectations, the Orange have gone just 6-17 since, including 1-10 in conference play.

Head coach Dino Babers is an eccentric leader that attempts to run a high pace offense, but without the right talent it leaves his defense exposed and his offensive line scrambling. The Orange were 118th in the nation averaging just 17.1 points per game, and with not much to look forward to in 2021, the time to move on from Babers could be soon.

Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech)

Justin Fuente allegedly nearly lost his job in 2020 and it is widely expected this is his final opportunity to prove he should remain in Blacksburg after this season.

Virginia Tech had just one sub-.500 season dating back to 1992 prior to their second in three years with Fuente at the helm. The Hokies' 5-6 season in 2020 was the program's worst in 28 years, and a repeat performance would spell doom for Fuente.