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College football coaching hot seat: Gus Malzahn, Clay Helton and more

Gus Malzahn faces a brutal schedule and a new university president. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

In 2017, Clay Helton led USC to its first Pac-12 championship in nearly a decade. That same year, Gus Malzahn coached Auburn to the SEC championship game, beating both Georgia and Alabama along the way and ending Alabama's run of three consecutive outright West division titles.

Two years later, Helton and Malzahn lead off the preseason coaching hot-seat breakdown. They don't occupy the two hottest seats in the country (Helton might have one), but when sizing up premier jobs that could open this year, USC and Auburn jump out.

There aren't many other Tier 1 jobs that figure to open because of a firing -- NFL departures and retirements are always possible -- and the list of potential Power 5 vacancies, according to industry insiders, is relatively short. Jobs like USC and Auburn certainly have the potential to trigger coaching dominoes, but if one or both don't open, or if USC hires a certain former Ohio State and Florida coach now working as a Fox analyst, there won't be much trickle down.

Famous last words, right?

For this year's preseason coaching hot-seat breakdown, I'm examining each conference's landscape. A national top-10 list would be pretty watered down by No. 7 or so. Here's what I'm hearing about what likely will open, or could open, when the carousel starts to spin later this fall. Also, I tried to limit this to coaches who could be dismissed, rather than those who could retire or move to other jobs.

Let's begin with the Power 5.

ACC

Hot seat: Steve Addazio, Boston College
Keep an eye on: Willie Taggart, Florida State; Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Addazio has done a solid job at one of the tougher Power 5 jobs, recording seven wins in five of his six seasons in The Heights. But the team's inability to truly break through puts him on somewhat shaky ground in 2019. Boston College considered a move late last fall, as the Eagles dropped their final three games after being ranked No. 17. Martin Jarmond is a young, ambitious athletic director who could be itchy to make his own hire, especially if Addazio can't eclipse seven wins this fall.