Seven college football coaches with more pressure to win than Kalen DeBoer

2024 could be Playoff-or-bust seasons for seven college football coaches; none of whom are named Kalen DeBoer.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 3

The next three are SEC coaches and for each of them, 2024 will be a test of living up to the hype. Their fans love them, driving high expectations. Failing to make the 12-team Playoff would severely damage their coaching reputations.

Brian Kelly - LSU Bengal Tigers

Brian Kelly has won at every stop in a distinguished college football coaching career. He is 20-7 at LSU in two seasons. The Tigers have a favorable 2024 schedule, not having to play Georgia or Texas. But LSU has losable games against USC, Ole Miss, and Alabama. A 9-3 record might not be good enough for an at-large Playoff slot. Coming up short would not suit well with a fanbase that can turn on a coach quickly.

Josh Heupel - Tennessee Volunteers

Josh Heupel is 27-12 in three Tennessee seasons. Going 11-2 in 2022, with a win over Alabama, was supposed to mean the Vols had regained SEC top-tier status. A, 9-4, 2023 season sowed doubt. Losing to Georgia and Alabama could be excused. The losses to Florida and Missouri could not be. The Tigers dominated the Vols, winning 36-7 in November. Either the Vols make the 12-team Playoff, or they and Heupel slide back to also-rans.

Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss Rebels

Optimism abounds in Oxford. Give Lane Kiffin credit. No coach uses the Transfer Portal as skillfully as Lane. Equally true is that Lane has never won big anywhere. Not at Tennessee or USC before being rescued by Nick Saban, and not at Ole Miss. The 11-2 Ole Miss record from last season was the best in Kiffin's head coaching career. Kiffin gets to avoid Alabama and Texas in the 2024 schedule and should go to Baton Rouge in mid-October 6-0. 2024 could finally be Lane's magic year. If it isn't, missing the Playoff will not cost him his job. It would crush all the Ole Miss forward momentum.

Note: Team and coach records provided by Sports Reference.