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Hot Seat Week 7: Is there ever a right time to fire a coach?

The Diaz-Frost-Norvell tracker returns to its roots in Week 7.

Boston College v Duke

Week 7 featured arguably the biggest upset of the year as the Purdue Boilermakers went to Iowa City and took out the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes to shake up the college football season once again. Last week, it was No. 1 Alabama. Will it be the No. 3 team in the country next week?

This also brings the coaching carousel into greater focus. Kirk Ferentz isn’t going anywhere despite a brutal loss. Nick Saban will still be in Tuscaloosa as long as he likes even after losing to Texas A&M. But there’s also a flip side to this equation. There are coaches who keep losing despite having the resources to win.

It never feels good to fire anyone, so there’s never going to be a right time to make the move. But at what point does an athletic department decide enough is enough in the high-stakes business of college athletics and specifically college football? We’re about to find out soon. Here are the coaches feeling the heat after this week, and it’s a familiar list.

Manny Diaz, Miami

It’s all unfolding poorly for Diaz. First, there was the blowout loss to Alabama. Then the loss to Michigan State. Diaz lost his star quarterback for the season. And now, he’s dropped two conference games to Virginia and North Carolina, this one in particularly dramatic fashion and with maximum pain for fans. There’s still some big games on the schedule with NC State and Pitt in the next two weeks, but we all know how this situation ends.

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Once is a mistake. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a habit. But what is every week? It feels like Frost’s Nebraska team keeps finding new ways to lose close games and honestly, that takes a certain level of ingenuity. This week the Huskers managed to gift Minnesota a safety with just under five minutes to go in the game. The Gophers scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession to blow the game open. At this point, even Frost’s enormous buyout might not save him.

David Cutcliffe, Duke

Cutcliffe made the honorable mentions last week, and he will likely be allowed to ride off into the sunset after taking Duke football to levels it never thought it could reach. But that ride might begin after this season. After a 48-0 loss to Virginia, Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils are 3-4 and have lost three straight ACC games. You really don’t want to fire a guy who’s built your program, but a “retirement” when the season ends seems very possible.

Honorable mentions

  • Mike Norvell’s Florida State was off this week. Don’t worry, he’ll be back in the tracker next week. The Seminoles bring a rare two-game winning streak into Week 8 against UMass. There’s a real chance he doesn’t survive if he doesn’t make that three in a row against the awful Minutemen.
  • It’s been a rough year for Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech. He found his name here earlier in the year and hasn’t been able to truly turn things around. The ACC seems wide open, so anything can still happen. A three-touchdown loss to Pitt is almost unheard of in Blacksburg. There still might be time for Fuente, but patience is running thin.