The college football season is a little over a month away, and there are plenty of programs with lofty expectations. With those expectations comes consequences if they are not met. Who gets punished for failing to meet those goals? The head coach.
Here are six college football coaches who are on the hot seat entering the 2019 season.
5. Chris Ash, Rutgers
The hiring of former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash brought high hopes to Rutgers. However, Ash has failed to live up to his impressive resume. Last season, Rutgers won their season opener, and proceeded to lose the remaining 11 games of the season. To make matters worse, Rutgers paid Buffalo $1 million to play them in 2018, only for the Bulls to curb-stomp the Scarlet Knights 42-13. If Rutgers doesn't emerge from the basement of the Big Ten in 2019, Ash will be shown the door.
4. Lovie Smith, Illinois
Illinois hired ex-NFL head coach Lovie Smith in order to take the program to new heights. In his first two seasons, Smith went 3-9 and 2-10, respectively. Last year, Smith improved...to a 4-8 record. Even with the school giving Smith a contract extension this past December, if he doesn't improve the team in 2019, they could very well be willing to eat the hefty $4 million buyout charge.
3. Willie Taggart, Florida State
Florida State used to be the powerhouse of the ACC, and now, have entered an uncharacteristic downward spiral. After Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M, Florida State hired ex-Oregon coach Willie Taggart. In his lone season with the Seminoles, the team finished 5-7. As a result, the program's 36-year bowl streak was snapped. The Seminoles are a program that's prided on winning. If Taggart doesn't improve things in 2019, his job could be on the line before he knows it.
2. Clay Helton, USC
Clay Helton coached the USC Trojans to their epic Rose Bowl victory over Penn State in 2017. Two years later, Helton was put on blast by athletic director Lynn Swann after finishing 5-7 last season, which included a loss to UCLA. Even ex-Trojan greats were calling for Helton's firing in favor of Urban Meyer. Simply put, Clay Helton is coaching for his job in 2019, and will be the scapegoat if the team fails to succeed.
1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Despite winning the Music Bowl last season, Malzahn was dangerously close to being fired after going 8-5. ESPN college football analyst Paul Finnebaum believes that if Malzahn fails to lead the Auburn Tigers to a "significant season," he will "likely be gone." After leading the Tigers to the BCS National Championship Game in 2013, Malzahn has only coached one 10-win season. While he does have a costly buyout price, Auburn could opt to bite the bullet and move on from Malzahn.