Two college football coaches — Rutgers’ Chris Ash and Florida State’s Willie Taggart — have already been fired this season, but rumors of other coaches losing their jobs are getting louder with each defeat. Several universities are getting tired of their football programs spiraling downward, and some might not wait until the end of the season to make a change. USC Trojan’s head coach, Clay Helton, could be the next to go.
Ash, who was the 3/1 favorite to be the first college football coach fired, was, in fact, the first to go. Ash, who had a an 8-32 career record for the Scarlet Knights, lost his job five weeks into the season, a day after Rutgers lost to Michigan, 52-0.
Taggart, who saw his odds trimmed from 10/1 to 4/1, could never win over boosters or university officials. Athletic director David Coburn said firing Taggart after less than two years was the right move.
“There’s a lot of ways to measure what was happening with the team,” Coburn said. “I thought that at the beginning of the season, we were making progress. Clemson was a disappointment, and I just felt and the president felt since then, we just have not looked very good.”
So who is next on the chopping block? There are several favorites, and a couple of potential surprises. Here’s our look at some of the coaches who might be looking for a new job next season.
College Football Coaches in Trouble
Clay Helton, USC Career Record: 37-21
Helton, USC’s head coach since 2015, has apparently worn out his welcome with both the boosters and the fans. Someone has even started a website, fireclayhelton.com. A petition to fire Helton was started last year on change.org.
Helton had a losing record last year, the first in his 18 years at USC. This year, he had both his starting quarterback and his backup go down with injuries. The team did hand Utah its lone loss of the year, but last week, suffered a humiliating 56-24 defeat to Oregon. Losing to Notre Dame didn’t help either. The UCLA game on Nov. 23 could loom large for Helton, if he isn’t already fired by then.
Tony Sanchez, UNLV Career Record: 18-39
UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said in a statement last year: “We are looking forward to a successful 2019 football season, including bowl eligibility.”
UNLV’s loss to Colorado State last weekend put a bowl game out of reach. The best record the Rebels can achieve is 5-7, but that won’t be enough to save Sanchez’s job.
Long Shot Coaches that Could be Fired
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State Career Record: 111-55
After the 13-year head coach at Michigan State saw his team get shellacked by Wisconsin, 38-0, three weeks ago, people are murmuring that it may be time for Dantonio to go.
The coach didn’t help himself with the comments he made to reporters after the game.
“You can make a list,” Dantonio said about his team’s shortcomings. “I hate to say it like that. But right now we don’t have a guy who can go the distance and gain 100 yards every week in running the football. There’s a whole list of things. But you’ve got to compare yourself to the people who are doing that as well. I think there’s a lot of things you’ve got to look at. But you’ve got to call it the way you see it, too. You can’t sit there and say we were almost there. We weren’t.”
The team is 4-4, with losses to Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Penn State. The Spartans travel to Michigan in two weeks, and losing that rivalry game won’t help Dantonio’s cause.
Scott Frost, Nebraska Career Record: 8-13
Like Taggart, Frost hasn’t even completed his second year at Nebraska, but some fans have seen enough. There’s a Facebook page calling for his firing. After last week’s embarrassing 31-28 loss to Purdue in a game where the Cornhuskers were 3.5-point favorites, social media has been all abuzz calling for his ouster.
University officials appear to be inclined to give Frost one more year, but if the team loses its final three games and finish 4-8, the school might decide to look in another direction.