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Forde-Yard Dash: Who May Be Next in Line to Follow Scott Frost?

Plus, our latest picks for the College Football Playoff.

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football, where McKenzie Milton’s legend at UCF continues to grow as Scott Frost’s body of work erodes:

MORE DASH: Frost Fired | Surprising Starts | Scenic Stadiums



This isn’t expected to be a wild season in the coaching market, but you never know. Nobody saw Lincoln Riley to USC or Brian Kelly to LSU coming last year. And there is an increasing trend toward in-season firings. (Not a great trend, unless the administration has some confidence that the season can be salvaged by a capable interim coach. Otherwise, the message to the players is that the work they put in is expendable in favor of getting a head start on the next hire.)

Given the state of affairs, these are the Power 5 head coaches who need to keep their heads on a swivel in the weeks ahead:

Bryan Harsin (11), Auburn. The situation: Harsin is 8–7 at Dysfunction Junction, 2–0 this season, with wins over Mercer and San Jose State. Seat temperature: scalding. With athletic director Allen Greene out, Harsin has less administrative protection to keep the power-tripping booster cabal off his back and out of his business. They tried to push him out last winter and are freshly empowered to try again when the timing suits them. Wheezing past San Jose State by eight didn’t do a lot to improve the atmosphere.

That said, Harsin does have an immediate opportunity to rally some support with Penn State coming Saturday to the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains. That’s the third of five straight home games to start the season, and if the Tigers go 5–0 it would be a nice springboard into a challenging slate the rest of the way (six of the final seven opponents are currently 2–0).

Outlook: It might take a Tuberville 2004–level rally for Harsin to keep his job after this season. If he wants to keep it.

Geoff Collins (12), Georgia Tech. The situation: Collins is 10–26 in his fourth season of a total program makeover, with a predictable 1–1 start on this season—beaten soundly by Clemson, then defeating Western Carolina. Everyone knew that it would be a major undertaking modernizing the Paul Johnson approach, but this has gone on long enough without return on investment to eradicate all patience.

Giving Collins a nonconference slate that includes two SEC opponents (Mississippi on Saturday and the annual Georgia game at season’s end) plus a road game against UCF is enough of a challenge. But the ACC is showing some muscle early, which adds to Tech’s difficulty.

Outlook: Through two games, the Yellow Jackets don’t appear capable of significantly upgrading their standing—they’re a plus-four in turnover margin yet still closer to 0–2 than 2–0. Collins will have to score some unexpected victories to get to 6–6, and then the administration will have to decide whether that’s good enough.

Neal Brown (13), West Virginia. The situation: Brown is 17–20 in his fourth season, 0–2 this year. Losing the Backyard Brawl in gut-busting fashion was a tough start, and following that with a home loss to perennial Big 12 basement dweller Kansas has the fan base in a couch-burning mood—and not in celebration.

Playing two Power 5 opponents on the road (Pitt and Sept. 22 at Virginia Tech) is not the most user-friendly schedule, although in both instances the travel is manageable and Mountaineers fans can show up (and did against the Panthers).

Outlook: The Big 12 tends to produce a lot of close games, and Brown needs to get on the right side of several in the coming weeks. That will necessitate some defensive improvement and a more consistent running game. This looks like a week-to-week situation, unless the current losing streak continues.

Karl Dorrell (14), Colorado. The situation: Dorrell is 8–12 in his third season and trending briskly the wrong way. After mass evacuation via the transfer portal in the offseason, the Buffaloes are 0–2 with an average losing margin of 23 points. Colorado is 130th out of 131 nationally in yards allowed per rush and 126th in pass efficiency. Major issues on both sides of the ball.

This is another hot-seat coach facing a perilous nonconference schedule, opening with TCU and road games against Air Force and Minnesota. The Pac-12 is not murderer’s row, but even a league slate of petty criminals might be too tough for this team.

Outlook: Colorado has lost its way for so long that this is a very difficult job, and Dorrell took it at a time when the Buffaloes had struggled through 13 losing seasons in the previous 14 years. (Losing Mel Tucker after one season was a big blow.) Still, this was a retread hire that is playing out to the previously established low expectations. It can be argued that three seasons is too little time to work a major rebuild—but it could be argued that three seasons is too many if you hired the wrong guy.

Herm Edwards (15), Arizona State. The situation: Edwards hasn’t done a bad job coaching; he’s 26–19 in his fifth season, 1–1 this year. The larger issue is the ongoing NCAA investigation that already shook up his staff, led to a lot of transfers, curtailed recruiting and is likely to produce major allegations.

As for the on-the-field product: The tenor for this season should be solidified in the next four weeks—Eastern Michigan, Utah, at USC and Washington. Then comes an open date. Check back then.

Outlook: It’s hard to find a path through the current predicament that ends with Edwards keeping his job. If he doesn’t get fired, the 68-year-old could retire ahead of the posse.

ACC coaches (16) who are smiling today but one bad loss away from backsliding onto the hot seat:

Mike Norvell, Florida State. Beating LSU in New Orleans was a big moment for Norvell, who is 10–13 in his third season. But his late-game decisions contributed to a fumble, which gave the Tigers a chance to steal the win—a flourish of mismanagement that could have been hard to overcome if the result had gone the other way. As it stands, the Seminoles play five straight season-defining games against Atlantic Division opponents: at Louisville on Friday, Boston College, Wake Forest, at North Carolina State, Clemson. Win three or more and FSU will have shown some tangible progress. Win two or fewer and the heat will return.

Dino Babers, Syracuse. The Orange are a dominant 2–0, which is not something that’s been said in several years. Walloping Louisville in the opener was big, followed by an expected rout of Connecticut, which sets up the possibility of a 5–0 start with Purdue, Virginia and Wagner all at home in the next three weeks. Now Babers needs to win some close ones—he’s 2–7 in one-score games over the previous three seasons.

Scott Satterfield, Louisville. A listless season-opening loss to Syracuse had Cardinals fans bailing en masse, but the fourth-year coach brought back some hope with a road upset of UCF. That will improve the atmosphere Friday night for Louisville’s home opener against Florida State, which shapes up as a swing game for both teams and both coaches. The school could use some continuity and calm after constant (and expensive) churn and controversy in men’s basketball, but a difficult latter half to this season looms.


Every week The Dash projects what the College Football Playoff would look like if today were Selection Sunday. The current bracket, if The Dash were the one-man selection committee:

Peach Bowl: Top seed Georgia (17) vs. fourth seed Ohio State (18)

The Bulldogs (2–0) have embraced their new aerial circus offensive persona, throwing the ball 80 times and running it 57 in a pair of blowout victories. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has had consecutive 300-yard passing games and hasn’t thrown an interception in his last four outings. Meanwhile, Kirby Smart’s defense is still Kirby Smart’s defense—the Dawgs have allowed three points in two games. Next for Georgia: at South Carolina on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (2–0) saw their opening win over Notre Dame devalued by the Fighting Irish’s subsequent flop against Marshall. Maybe holding that offense to 10 points wasn’t such a landmark achievement after all. But the expected offensive firepower did materialize last week against Arkansas State, with the Buckeyes averaging 10 yards per play and producing five touchdown plays of longer than 20 yards. Next for Ohio State: Toledo on Saturday.

Fiesta Bowl: Second seed Arkansas (19) vs. third seed USC (20)

This is about what a team has done, as opposed to what it is projected to do, so let’s acknowledge that the Razorbacks (2–0) have the two best wins of the season to date, beating Cincinnati and South Carolina and never trailing in either game. True to Sam Pittman form, they have been a ground-and-pound offensive operation: 110 rushing attempts and 47 passes to date. Their plus-four turnover margin is the best in the SEC so far. Next for Arkansas: Missouri State on Saturday, in the return of former coach and noted Harley-Davidson driver Bobby Petrino to Fayetteville.

The Trojans (2–0) are sprinting out of the gates under Lincoln Riley. They’re averaging 53.5 points per game, rank second nationally in pass efficiency and first in turnover margin (plus-eight). If you want to pencil in quarterback Caleb Williams as the top Heisman Trophy candidate after two games (590 passing yards, 79.6% accuracy, six touchdown passes, no interceptions), The Dash isn’t going to argue. But now it’s time to stop playing academic powers. Next up for USC: Fresno State on Saturday.

Dropped out from last week: Florida.

Also considered: BYU, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Penn State.

MORE DASH: Frost Fired | Surprising Starts | Scenic Stadiums