The college football coaching hot seat for 2021 was supposed to be crowded.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, sources widely expected schools to be hesitant to make coaching changes, mindful of the cost for already-crunched athletic department budgets. Just wait for 2021, they said. It will be wild.
Then, South Carolina fired Will Muschamp, and Vanderbilt soon followed in jettisoning Derek Mason. Illinois (Lovie Smith) and Arizona (Kevin Sumlin) were next. Then a big, somewhat unexpected domino at Auburn, which dumped longtime hot-seat resident Gus Malzahn. In January, two other major jobs opened up at Texas and Tennessee. Virginia Tech and Texas Tech opted to retain their embattled coaches and Michigan restructured Jim Harbaugh's contract, but the carousel claimed more coaches (and payout money) than expected.
The run on firings despite the pandemic likely makes the hot seat a bit lighter for 2021. There are some big names below, but if certain jobs don't open, this could be a fairly light year for dismissals. Then again, the carousel always contains a few surprises.
I'm keeping the league-by-league format I used before the 2019 season, which lists coaches who are squarely on the hot seat and those who could start feeling pressure if things go poorly this fall. After talking to several industry sources, this breakdown provides a realistic view of the jobs that could open sometime before the 2022 season. A reminder that coaches who might retire soon (i.e. Duke's David Cutcliffe) and those likely to move onto other jobs aren't included here.
Let's get started with the Power 5 and then move on to the Group of 5.