College football coaching buzz: Hot seats and candidates to watch

Pat Fitzgerald was fired by Northwestern before the 2023 college football season began. Brendan Moran-USA TODAY Sports

By this point in the 2022 college football season, the coaching carousel needed new shocks and struts because it was spinning so fast.

Five power conference teams had already made coaching changes -- Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Colorado and, a big surprise, Wisconsin. A sixth team, Auburn, would soon follow with the long-anticipated firing of Bryan Harsin. Early changes had become a trend. But this year's coaching cycle has been relatively quiet so far and could stay that way.

Two Big Ten teams are looking for coaches -- Northwestern and Michigan State -- but both jobs did not open because of on-field performance. Buzz is beginning to build about other potential changes, including at some schools that weren't on the preseason hot seat radar, such as Arkansas. But overall, the market seems to be very much in wait-and-see mode. Some coaches have cooled down hot seat talk with strong starts, while others could really use a win right now.

The carousel will get moving soon -- it always does -- and there will be some surprises. As the season nears the halfway point, here's a look at the two current openings, the top candidates for this cycle, the coaches facing the most pressure and the assistants who have helped their profiles most in the early part of the season.