Sports

Seven college football coaches under the most pressure entering the 2022 season

Several college football coaches find themselves under pressure in 2022 for a wide variety of reasons. The root of that pressure can vary from job security, duress to win a national championship or orchestrating turnarounds for programs that demand excellence on an annual basis.

auburn’s Bryan Harsin finds himself on one of the hottest seats in the country after a coup attempt nearly cost him his job with the Tigers in early February. He’s not the only coach who needs to get it done in 2022, though. Lincoln Riley has taken over USC in the hopes of restoring the Trojans to national prominence, while Texas coach Steve Sarkisian needs to show significant improvement to avoid a pink slip.

So which coaches are under the most pressure as we start looking ahead to the 2022 season? We’ll break then down, but first, a reminder: this is not necessarily a list of coaches on the hot seat. As Georgia coach Kirby Smart says, “pressure is a privilege.”

Lincoln Riley, USC

Many have tried, but few have succeeded to lead USC back to the glory days of Pete Carroll in the 2000s. Riley has stepped up to the plate after further establishing Oklahoma as a national power, and has hit the transfer portal in a big way by luring several players — including former Sooners starting quarterback Caleb-Williams — to Los Angeles. His up-tempo, spread-based, run-focused offense will be a big selling point with recruits in southern California, which means that College Football Playoff appearances — yes, plural — should come in the not-too-distant future. What’s more, it’s not like the Trojans have to run the gauntlet in the Pac-12.

Bryan Harsin, Auburn

A coup attempt by influential members of the Auburn program nearly ousted Harsin during the offseason, but the second-year coach of the Tigers needs to thrive in order to survive in 2022. A 6-7 season should never happen at Auburn, even during rebuilding years. That’s exactly what Harsin posted in his first year, which also included massive coaching turnover, a mass exodus of players to the transfer portal, a 25-point collapse vs. Mississippi State and an overtime escape from the clutches of FCS Georgia State.

Harsin has to manage a three-man quarterback battle among T. J. FinleyTexas A&M transfer Zach Causeway and Robert Ashford this offseason, and will do so with long-time confidant Eric Kiseau running the offense. The right decision better be made. The Tigers have road games at Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama this year, in addition to a home tilt vs. Penn State in Week 3.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas

It’s safe to say that after a great run as the coordinator at Alabama, Sarkisian was expected to at least be competent offensive in 2021. Instead, Sark posted a 5-7 record in his debut which included a six-game losing streak and an embarrassing home loss to lowly Kansas. As if that wasn’t enough to get the natives restless in a program starved for success, Sark reeled in the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation during the most recent recruiting cycle and lured former hot-shot quarterback prospect Quinn Ewers away from Ohio State after one season. A little bit of improvement will go a long way for Sark, but his tenure is a bit tenuous at the moment.

Mike Norvell deserves a mulligan for the 3-6 record in 2020 after inheriting a broken program during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 5-7 record and loss to Jacksonville State last season has placed the weight of the Seminole fan base on his shoulders . Norvell is touted an offensive specialist, but his offenses from him have finished ninth in the ACC in each of his first two seasons. Additionally, he hasn’t posted a top-20 recruiting class during any of the three recruiting cycles he has led in Tallahassee. Norvell doesn’t have to contend for the ACC Atlantic title to relieve some of the pressure, but a middle-tier bowl game and absence of blowout losses will eliminate potentially severe consequences.

Whenever an athletic director has to reaffirm a commitment to a head coach, it’s safe to assume that the coach is in a rough spot. That’s exactly what happened to Nebraska coach Scott Frost following a 3-9 season in 2021. The native son and legendary quarterback returned to Lincoln with much fanfare after a successful run at UCF and was supposed to return the Cornhuskers to national prominence, but a 15 -29 record and Big Ten West anonymity has relegated Frost to one of the hottest seats in the country.

The fanbase has grown concerned about the Flats after Collins, a relentless recruiter with a strong coaching pedigree and ties throughout the southeast, posted three-win records in all three of his seasons leading the Yellow Jackets. It’s a unique challenge to transform a triple-option team into a new-age offensive force, but Collins hasn’t shown much progress in that department. Plus, losing his best player — running back Jahmyr Gibbs — to Alabama makes Georgia Tech look much more like a farm team than an ACC threat.

Babers was hired by the Orange to lead them to ACC prominence but has led them to ineptitude instead. He has one winning season in six years, finished last or next-to-last in the division four times and tied for 14th in the ACC in 2020, when the league didn’t have divisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once considered an offensive wizard, Syracuse hasn’t averaged more than 400 yards per game since 2018 and finished 11th in the ACC with 366.5 yards per game last year. Syracuse is a hard sell for prospects outside of the region, but it shouldn’t be an ACC cellar-dweller either.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button