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Hot Seat Week 5: Heroes, villains and whatever Bryan Harsin is

The heat is turning up in Auburn, Morgantown and Louisville.

Missouri v Auburn
Head coach Bryan Harsin of the Auburn Tigers prior to their game against the Missouri Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama.
Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

There’s a quote from Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight where he says “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Although college coaches never technically die thanks to Nick Saban’s analyst rehabilitation project down in Tuscaloosa, we can apply the spirit of that quote this week’s Hot Seat column.

Former Sun Belt heroes likely to be gone

Neal Brown at West Virginia and Scott Satterfield at Louisville are both entering key stretches when it comes to job security. Brown’s Mountaineers seemingly put their entire effort into the Backyard Brawl and have limped through the season. A big loss to Texas immediately puts the pressure back on Brown, who now leads his team against Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU in the three weeks following a bye. Given what the end of West Virginia’s schedule looks like, the Mountaineers likely need to win two of these three to make a bowl game.

Satterfield’s Cardinals were stunned by Boston College in Week 5, moving the team to 2-3 heading into a contest against Virginia. Louisville failed to score in the final quarter, and star quarterback Malik Cunningham’s efforts continue to be wasted. The team has a bye after the Virginia game before facing Pitt and Wake Forest. If the Cardinals can’t win either of those games following the off week, Satterfield is likely out.

College football lifers in the villain realm

There was a lot of hype surrounding Michigan’s trip to Iowa, especially with the Hawkeyes seemingly being able to knock off top-5 teams at will in Kinnick Stadium. After three quarters, it was 20-0 Michigan. Iowa did score a touchdown to begin the final frame after a nice drive at the end of the third but then didn’t score again until the dying seconds when the game was already in hand. Throughout the game, there was very little criticism of Iowa’s offense. Instead, we were treated to glorifying stats about punting and T-shirts celebrating the act of sending the ball to the other team because your offense can’t move. Kirk Ferentz might live by the slogan “punting is winning”, but fans would much rather prefer actual wins. The Iowa administration has shown no signs of making a change, so have fun with this guy until he chooses to move on.

Texas A&M administrations are definitely taking second, third and fourth looks at Jimbo Fisher’s contract trying to find some sort of out clause. One week after potentially turning the corner with a win over Arkansas, the Aggies got smoked by Mike Leach’s Mississippi State offense. Fisher does have some big wins in his first in his first four seasons but he has not delivered a 10-win season yet and the path to the playoff isn’t getting much easier with Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC. The coach is making $9 million on a contract which runs through 2031. Is Texas A&M about to pay a million a year per win for the next decade? I’d like to think they won’t but this is a weird sport.

Bryan Harsin

It’s hard to completely fault Harsin for the current situation at Auburn. The Tigers somewhat did this to themselves when they decided Gus Malzahn wasn’t getting the job done. Firing Malzahn itself wasn’t a problem but bringing in a coach who has no familiarity with the conference was. Harsin was a basically going to be a Boise State lifer. He potentially had a seat next to Ferentz and Fisher in the villain realm with a comfortable paycheck.

Instead, he’s ruffled all kinds of feathers at Auburn in an effort to change the culture. There were rumors he would be out in the summer after prominent players were transferring out of the program. If Missouri didn’t make two crucial mistakes, Harsin might not have coached in Week 5 against LSU. Auburn has Georgia and Ole Miss in the next two weeks, and Harsin has to win at least one to make it to the end of the season.