Alabama Football: Coaching hot seats and fading honeymoons


Unlike Alabama Football with Nick Saban at the helm, being a college football head coach is a tenuous situation. There was a time when newly hired coaches got extended honeymoons of three or four, even five seasons to build a successful team.

Those days are gone forever. In today’s world of college football, some coaches start feeling heat before the end of year one in a new job. One example is Mel Tucker at Michigan State. Even in a season where COVID made measuring success difficult, some fans are doubting Tucker after the Spartans went 2-5. To the extent Tucker has any honeymoon left in East Lansing, it is from beating Michigan.

Alabama Football has not always been stable

For some newly hired head coaches, the honeymoon only lasts until the season begins. Either their careers are so tarnished or the programs they inherit so flawed, they must win quickly. Josh Heupel at Tennessee may be in such a situation. As stable as Alabama Football has been under Nick Saban, none of the Tide head coaches between Gene Stallings ever stood on solid ground.

Adding to instability for head coaches is that there are programs that will not sustain winning under any coach. Doug Martin is said to be on a hot seat at New Mexico State, but the Aggies will remain awful no matter who succeeds Martin. Other than the exception of the James Franklin seasons, the same is true for Vanderbilt. The Dores are excited about Clark Lea and his honeymoon period will be longer than most. But Vandy coaches have little chance to win in the SEC.

College football fans love to discuss hot seat rankings. Opinions vary on which seats are hottest in 2021. Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Clay Helton (USC), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Scott Frost (Nebraska)  and Jeff Brohm (Purdue) are on most lists. Barrett Sallee, writing for CBS suggests Kirby Smart and Lincoln Riley need to deliver in 2021.

Sallee does not argue Smart or Riley are in danger of losing their jobs. He makes a more sound argument that neither has lived up to expectations. The expectations will not change. So the question for both coaches is how many seasons do they have when not making the CFB Playoff or not winning a National Championship is seen as failure. A failure they are then deemed incapable of correcting. Some Georgia fans already admit Kirby’s record is not much better than Mark Richt’s.

The bar of besting Saban is too high

Win big and do it now is so often the mandate. Even winning a National Championship does not guarantee job security. Ed Orgeron slayed the Alabama Football dragon in 2019 (and the rest of college football) but grumblings can already be heard in Baton Rouge.

Next. Give the man a lifetime contract. dark

LSU should bounce back in the coming season but a third or fourth-place finish in the SEC West will place Coach O on every 2022 hot seat list.