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Hot Seat Week 11: Pac-12 turnover imminent, Florida powerhouses in turmoil and a Texas-sized problem in Austin

Things are spiraling out of control in Austin, Gainesville and Coral Gables. The coaching turmoil is also starting to reach the West Coast.

Texas v Iowa State
Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns coaches during pregame warmups at Jack Trice Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa State Cyclones won 30-7 over the Texas Longhorns.
Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Week 11 didn’t quite bring the College Football Playoff upheaval the country has been accustomed to this season but it further increased the spotlight on some notable coaches at notable programs who have underperformed. Longtime Hot Seat column resident Scott Frost has survived the chopping block this time around but Clay Helton, Matt Wells, Ed Orgeron and Gary Patterson are all either gone or on the way out. There will be more names to follow as programs adapt to a changing college football landscape. Here are the coaches facing the most pressure after Week 11.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas

It’s only Year 1 of what is going to be a very short tenure for Sarkisian in Austin. Losing to Oklahoma is acceptable. Losing to Oklahoma State is acceptable, even though the fashion in which Texas lost was tough. Losing to Iowa State, a trendy Big 12 title pick in the preseason, was acceptable. Losing to Kansas at home though? That’s going to give a lot of people pause over whether Sarkisian is the man for this program. He topped out with eight wins at Washington, and saw his USC days end in truly embarrassing fashion. Dropping five straight games, including a home loss to Kansas, puts Sarkisian squarely on the hot seat entering next season.

Dan Mullen, Florida

Mullen has come under extreme fire over the past month. After a week where he was forced to fire DC Todd Grantham and had two commits flip to Georgia, it seemed like the end was imminent Saturday when the Gators were being bullied by Samford of all teams. Florida gave up 42 points in the first half but rallied in the second half to walk away with a 70-52 win. Still, getting shredded by a middling FCS school at home isn’t a good look no matter how you slice it. Buckle in, because it’s going to be a very turbulent two weeks in Gainesville coming up.

Jimmy Lake, Washington

This has been a dreary season for Lake. He saw Washington lose to a FCS program in Week 1 and get dominated by Michigan in Week 2. There were some uninspiring one-possession losses during the season and a near death nail in a 21-16 win over winless Arizona at the time. Lake also got suspended for one game due to an allegation he violently shoved a player in 2019, and this allegedly isn’t the only incident of the coach crossing the line. His record doesn’t match up with his coaching style and Washington can fire him for cause if this investigation goes the school’s way. The Huskies looking for a new coach is just a formality at this point.

Manny Diaz, Miami

Give credit to Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes as they managed to erase a 17-0 deficit early in Saturday’s game against rival FSU and put themselves in a position to win. That obviously didn’t hold. Planting the Noles on their 20 with 2:09 left, they allowed Jordan Travis and FSU to drive the length of the field to punch in the go-ahead touchdown with 26 seconds left. Trying for a last-ditch comeback attempt of their own, UM QB Tyler Van Dyke spiked the ball with two seconds left, by rule ending the game. The chatter around Coral Gables over the past few weeks has been that Diaz will get another year. But at 5-5 and limping towards the end of the year, maybe wholesale changes are on the way.

Honorable mentions

  • Wins over USC and Oregon may have bought David Shaw some time at Stanford but next season is a big one for the head coach. The Cardinal lost to Oregon State in Week 11, a program they had beat 11 straight times heading into the game. Shaw has also seen his squad lose to Kansas State, Washington State, Washington and Arizona State this season.
  • Mike Norvell should be happy after falling backwards into a victory over Miami but that’s not really an accomplishment this season. The Florida State coach is still more likely to be out by the end of the year, unless the administration decides it cannot stomach another buyout situation.
  • Geoff Collins has lost the plot at Georgia Tech. It’s Year 3, and he’s going to be stuck at three wins unless the Yellow Jackets find some serious magic against Notre Dame or Georgia to close out the year. The ACC is set to undergo a massive coaching churn, and Collins is among those in danger of losing his job.
  • If Arizona State had lost to Washington Saturday, it may have been the end of Herm Edwards. The NFL-style setup simply has not resulted in big seasons for the Sun Devils and there’s a question of how long this can continue in a down Pac-12 South division. It’s possible Edwards simply steps aside at the end of the year but if he stays, he enters next year under tremendous pressure.
  • Duke and David Cutcliffe are going to “mutually part ways” at some point. The Blue Devils are going to give their coach an honorable exit.
  • Justin Fuente is going to finish this season two games above .500 at best. That’s not good enough for a program like Virginia Tech, especially in Fuente’s sixth season. There’s a decent argument to be made the program has declined as his tenure increased. The Hokies brass will go in a new direction at the end of the year.