CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd put out his annual Hot Seat ratings. It's June, so let's dive in.
There's no way to sort the table by conference, so here's where the 14 SEC coaches sit. In his rating system, a 0 means totally safe and 5 means imminent danger of being fired. None of the league's coaches got a 4 or 5, and the phrase in parenthesis is how Dodd describes the pressure level.
- 3 ("Starting to feel the pressure"): Derek Mason
- 2 ("Safe... but you never know"): Bret Bielema, Jim McElwain, Les Miles, Mark Stoops
- 1 ("Very safe, change unlikely"): Butch Jones, Steve Spurrier, Kevin Sumlin, Mark Richt
- 0: ("Untouchable"): Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Dan Mullen, Gary Pinkel, Nick Saban
The only real change I might make is moving Mason to a 4 ("Warm, better start winning") simply because how great of a drop off there was from James Franklin's three years to 2014's debacle. I realize that Vandy is not the highest pressure place to win now, but he's already burned through both "but I fired the coordinator in charge" cards after taking over the defense personally and swapping out Karl Dorrell for Andy Ludwig. That, plus actually going through four quarterbacks last year, suggests he wasn't as ready to be a head coach as Vandy thought he might be.
But overall, I'm not sure what I'd change. I think I'd bump Miles down to a 1 based on how I think the season will go, but I can live with a 2 if we're not projecting future results. The only trouble he'll be getting into, which is the same for Spurrier, is not living up to the high bar that he himself set.
The real head scratchers come from elsewhere. He has Charlie Strong as a 3, which is nuts. I know Texas has high expectations, but he's not in the same tier as Mason or other guys rated a 3 such as Al Golden or Purdue's Darrell Hazell. Willie Taggart has been a disaster at USF after doing a great job at WKU and also gets a 3. Bob Stoops gets a 2, but he's pretty much untouchable there. I can't go over a 1 for him.
Ultimately, I see this as one of those years where no SEC jobs turn over unless someone takes an NFL job. Whoever has the misfortune to finish last in the West is already on the safe end of the spectrum, and he's going to have a good team anyway because there are no bad teams over there. Maybe Mark Stoops will have a breakthrough, finish third in the division, and then take some bigger job.
I think Mason will show enough improvement to keep from getting the axe, so I doubt anyone's getting fired this fall. I reserve the right to change my tune on this later, but that's where we're at now.