Every year, there are coaches that land on the hot seat. So who are the non-AQ coaches who have to win in 2011? I have compiled a brief list. The no-brainer choice at the top of the list is New Mexico coach Mike Locksley, who goes into his third season having won two games and lost 22 with the Lobos.
Many thought he was on the hot seat last season, too. But the problem is he has a large buyout that New Mexico cannot afford to pay. According to local reports, it would have cost the program $1.4 million to fire him after last season. It would cost $1 million to fire him in 2011. So he may actually be safe if he has another bad season, unless New Mexico can find some serious cash.
I would put UAB coach Neil Callaway and Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild at the top of this list. Callaway goes into his fifth season at the school and has now been given plenty of time to get his players in to try and get into a bowl for just the second time in school history. He is 15-33 in four seasons and the Blazers went 4-8 last season. With 16 returning starters, including quarterback Bryan Ellis and running back Pat Shed, this could be bowl game or bust season for Callaway.
As for Fairchild, he took his team to a bowl game in his first season in 2008, but his teams have now posted back-to-back 3-9 seasons. The Rams also return 15 starters, including quarterback Pete Thomas. The Rams should be favored in four of their five nonconference games (Utah State, San Jose State, Northern Colorado, UTEP) so expectations will be high to return to a bowl.
Ron English also has gone 2-22 in his first two seasons. His team showed vast improvement last season over 2009. If that continues in 2011, he should be safe even with a losing record. But there are going to have to be more Ws in the win column. Bob Toledo is 12-37 in four seasons at Tulane