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Hot Seat Week 8: ACC, Big 12 ripe for turnover after underwhelming seasons for several programs

There will be prominent job openings in these two conferences at the end of the season.

Notre Dame v Virginia Tech
Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies looks on from the sidelines during the first half of the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Lane Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The coaching carousel is in full swing as Week 8 of the college football season comes to an end. LSU and USC headline the biggest job openings of the year but there will be several other prominent programs looking for change once the season ends. The two conferences ripe for the most turnover are the ACC and Big 12. The former has seen a complete changing of the guard in terms of contenders, while the latter is still trying to sort out the aftershocks of Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference. Here are the coaches feeling the pressure after Week 8.

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Following up a legend like Frank Beamer was never going to be easy, especially with Virginia Tech falling well behind several ACC programs on the recruiting trail. Fuente has been in this column several times before and he may not survive the season after blowing an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter against Syracuse. The Orange, by the way, are also likely to send Dino Babers packing after the season. The Hokies have reached the ACC title game just once in Fuente’s tenure. That’s not good enough in Blacksburg.

Manny Diaz, Miami

Diaz managed to stave off some of the heat with a 31-30 win over a ranked NC State team but this situation only ends one way. The Hurricanes have fallen so far from the national spotlight, and that’s not how the school plans on moving forward. Delayed, but still inevitable.

Mike Norvell, Florida State

The Seminoles were down 3-0 early to UMass, sending everyone in Tallahassee in a slight panic, but it was all for giggles in the Noles 59-3 win. That’s three straight wins for Norvell’s squad, who seem to be turning things around. A hefty buyout could ultimately be what keeps the coach around, but a bowl game still seems unlikely. However it’s a lot more plausible than it was three weeks ago.

Matt Wells, Texas Tech

The Red Raiders could still get to a bowl game, so Wells may ultimately fulfill the bare minimum when it comes to Year 3 expectations. However, losses to Kansas State and TCU are not something the administration in Lubbock will like. Texas Tech gets both Oklahoma schools, an Iowa State team trending in the right direction and Baylor. A bowl game appearance might be enough to keep Wells around one more season.

Honorable mentions

  • Nebraska is so good at finding losses it nearly took one in the bye week. Scott Frost’s buyout is substantial, so there’s always a chance he sticks around. It’s always tough for a school to fire one of its own, especially someone as accomplished as Frost. At some point though, a move has to be made.
  • Gary Patterson is no longer churning out spike seasons at TCU, and a loss to West Virginia might signal the beginning of the end for the coach. The Big 12 is changing, so there’s a chance TCU decides to cut bait before things reach worse levels. But Patterson has done so much for the school he should be able to leave on his terms.
  • Jimmy Lake’s time at Washington is starting to run out. The Huskies barely survived against an Arizona team that probably shouldn’t be competing in the FBS this season. Washington has already lost to an FCS school this season and the next three weeks don’t look pretty. If Lake loses the Apple Cup, this could be an easy call to make for the Washington brass.