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Hot Seat Week 3: Two major Florida programs have decisions to make about the future

Miami and Florida State need to evaluate their respective coaches to avoid falling too far behind Florida in one of the sport’s biggest states.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Wake Forest
Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell calls out to his players before the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Truist Field.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3 didn’t feature as much upheaval as Week 2, but there were still some influential results when it comes to the coaching carousel spinning. USC’s Clay Helton lasted on last week’s Hot Seat Watch for less than two days before the Trojans decided they’d seen enough. There’s a chance more prominent programs follow suit after Week 3 debacles. Here’s a look at which coaches are feeling the heat heading into Week 4 and beyond.

Manny Diaz, Miami

It has officially gone from bad to worse in Coral Gables. Diaz had an easy excuse of coming up short against No. 1 Alabama in the opening week of the season, as most teams tend to do. He had less of an excuse in failing to put away Appalachian State in Week 2, and after a 38-17 blowout at the hands of Michigan State, there’s no room for error. The Hurricanes are still in the mix for the ACC, which seems to be wide open. Diaz, who is 15-12 at Miami, needs to make a big run in conference play to have a chance at saving his job. This is a case study in how scheduling tough non-conference games can come back to bite you.

Mike Norvell, Florida State

The Seminoles financially have no choice but to ride this out with Norvell. The Notre Dame loss in overtime was excusable, especially after Florida State showed some fight in a fourth-quarter comeback. The last-second Hail Mary loss to Jacksonville State could’ve been chopped up to pure luck. There’s no way to spin a 35-14 loss to Wake Forest, which dropped Florida State to 0-3 on the season. Norvell is now 3-9 in Tallahassee and there’s not much hope for positive results in sight. This program is coming dangerously close to oblivion quickly.

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

It’s hard to follow in Frank Beamer’s footsteps, but this is now Year 6 for Fuente at Virginia Tech and things aren’t trending in the right direction. After winning the Coastal Division in his first season, Fuente has seen his win total steadily decline before a small uptick in 2019. A non-conference loss to an unranked West Virginia team isn’t bad considering the Hokies were underdogs in the game, but the fashion in which they lost was dreadful. Fuente isn’t on the chopping block, but there are some sparks under that seat.

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Frost found himself alone in Week 0’s Hot Seat Watch for good reason. The up-and-coming offensive mind was considered a successful hire before even coaching a game at Nebraska but it simply hasn’t worked out. The Cornhuskers had the chance to take some pressure off their coach in the contest against No. 3 Oklahoma, but failed to take the final step in a 23-16 loss. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa on tap. It’s Year 4 and Frost might not have a bowl game appearance to show some sort of progress. The buyout might be the only thing keeping him alive.

Honorable mentions

  • Indiana was the trendy Big Ten pick after a 6-2 campaign in 2020, but the Hoosiers are 1-2 and got smacked by Iowa. There’s no pressure at the moment on head coach Tom Allen but it’s hard to see how a team returning that much talent could come out of the gate so slowly.
  • Mississippi State fans are questioning Mike Leach’s commitment to his players and the program after a controversial 31-29 loss. Bulldogs supporters were upset Leach didn’t press officials harder on a number of calls which ultimately cost the team the game. It’s only Year 2, but Leach’s “Air Raid” offense needs to deliver at least one major upset to keep the fanbase happy.
  • A Week 1 win over UCLA set the Bruins up well for a massive season. Chip Kelly appeared to finally have his roster intact for a big year, but it all came crashing down against a tough Fresno State team. The Bruins got lit up defensively and didn’t have the firepower to stay in the game offensively early. Kelly’s seat isn’t exactly hot, but this loss does dampen hopes of a truly special campaign.