The Big 12 as a conference had a somewhat quiet coaching cycle this year, which is becoming very uncommon in today’s culture of coaches being fired following a slightly below-average season. In fact, in the Big 12, only one coach was fired, and one coach was picked up by another team. Compare that to the Big 10, which has had five coaches either fired or moved on to a new role, and it’s easy to see which league is a bit more stable in their coaching situations.
However, going into 2024, not every coach is as comfortable as they were going into 2023. In fact, there are quite a few coaches who are on the hot seat and others whose seats are starting to get pretty warm. For this article, here will be the criteria:
- Hot Seat: The team desperately needs to start fast and have a good year. The coach may not make it through the season if winning doesn’t happen quickly.
- Warm Seat: The coach is unlikely to be fired during the season (barring complete disaster), but could be fired at the end of the season if unsuccessful.
- Safe Seat: Barring complete disaster, the coach is not going to be fired, even with a lackluster season.
Big 12 Coaches on the Hot Seat
Dave Aranda: Baylor
Baylor is only a few years separated from playing in the Sugar Bowl, yet after two consecutive rough seasons where Baylor failed to reach a bowl game, the grace period is up for Dave Aranda. With a struggling recruiting class and a tough schedule in 2024, Aranda is the top candidate to potentially be fired before the end of the season.
Kalani Sitake: BYU
Last season, BYU Football went 5-7 overall after starting off the season 3-1 and 4-2. While the schedule did get much more difficult on the backend of the year, losing five of the final six games left a really bad taste in Cougar fans’ mouths, and another losing season would probably result in the team moving on from Sitake, especially with defensive coordinator Jay Hill sitting right there to be promoted.
Scott Satterfield: Cincinnati
Satterfield has been dealt a really tough hand. Not only did he have to follow up Luke Fickell, perhaps the best coach to ever coach at Cincinnati, but he had to follow it up while entering a P5 league. Cincinnati fans have gotten used to winning, and unfortunately, due to bad timing, Satterfield may become a victim of coaching at a tough time.
Coaches With a Warm Seat
Kenny Dillingham: Arizona State
Similar to Cincinnati, Kenny Dillingham accepted the job when the team was in a tough spot. Arizona State was in a terrible spot when Dillingham arrived, but following a 3-9 season, the Sun Devils will have to show a step or two forward for Dillingham to make it to year three. To do so, they will need to find a quarterback who can win games, something that the four QBs who played last year couldn’t do.
Sonny Dykes: TCU
Sonny Dykes and TCU are only one season separated from playing for the National Championship Game, yet following a 5-7 season, the Horned Frogs became the first team to play for a national championship and then failed to make a bowl game the following season. It doesn’t feel like Dykes would be fired for another sub-average season, but if they lose the wrong games and miss a bowl game again, there may be a new coach in Forth Worth in 2025.
Deion Sanders: Colorado
This one is very controversial, but if Deion and the Colorado Buffaloes somehow take a step back from last year, things could get ugly real quick. Right now, Coach Prime has a pass to do whatever he wants, essentially kicking out any player and bringing in players from the portal at a rate we’ve never seen before. I tend to think that Coach Prime would get a third season, but if Colorado were to go 4-8 or worse, you never know, especially if higher administrators who don’t buy into his vision are hired.
Joey McGuire: Texas Tech
Joey McGuire is barely in this category, but he is still quite a bit higher than any of the coaches in the “safe” zone. Texas Tech underperformed last year, going 6-6, but a nice win in the Radience Technology Bowl against Cal left a nice taste going into the offseason. Going into 2024, the Red Raiders have a great recruiting class and are expected to take a step forward. Unless Texas Tech goes 4-8 or worse, it would be a shock to see McGuire fired.
Coaches That Are Safe
Brent Brennan (Arizona) and Willie Fritz (Houston) are going into their first season at their schools. There is almost nothing that either of these coaches can do to get anywhere near the hot seat in 2024, although they could do a lot of help by starting off well.
Kyle Whittingham (Utah) and Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) have both been at their schools for longer than just any other coach in the country. They’ve both had a ton of success at their schools and there is nothing that either of these coaches can do to get fired following the 2024 season.
Enough Built-in Success
Matt Campell (Iowa State), Neal Brown (West Virginia), Gus Malzhan (UCF), Chris Klieman (Kansas State), and Lance Leipold (Kansas) have all either brought their schools out of the depths of being terrible, or they’ve done enough the past few years to build in enough grace to make it past a bad season. At the same time, all of these coaches could land themselves into the hot seat going into 2025 with a bad season.