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Sun Belt Hot Seat Ratings

By Kenzie Stanford
SouthernPigskin.com
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Taking a look at the head coaches of the Sun Belt Conference and the temperature of their hot seats for the 2015 college football season.

For some head coaches, the security of their job is not even an after-thought. But to others, this 2015 season marks a monumental turning point in their careers. Either they produce a team that performs or they burn up in the hot seat and face some difficult question marks moving forward.

But where does each coach lie on the scale from ice cold to burning hot in their job security ranking? Let's take a look at the head coaches of the Sun Belt Conference and the temperature of their seats for the 2015 college football season.

HOT, HOT, HOT

Paul Petrino – Idaho Vandals

The hottest of the hot seats in the Sun Belt belongs to Idaho head coach Paul Petrino. This situation can't all be blamed on Petrino due to the fact that he took over a struggling program – but in two seasons with the Vandals, he should be looking at a better overall record than 2-21 (1-10 conference play). Two wins in two years is not a promising first endeavor as head coach, but we have to look at the key pieces that are coming back on offense for the 2015 season and have some hope. If Petrino can revamp his defense and produce the first season without double-digit losses since 2009 then there is the possibility that he could escape the hot seat for another season with Idaho.

Trent Miles – Georgia State

The fact of the matter is that Miles is doing what he can with what he has. That still does not, though, fully explain the fact that Georgia State has had its program rolling since 2010 and still has produced just a 1-23 overall record. This season will be the tell-all for Miles to see if he can put together a team that provides some competition amongst FBS contenders. If not, it’s probable that the Panthers will look elsewhere for a coach that can get their struggling program on its feet. Miles will not likely get the benefit of the doubt for much longer, as he has had time to produce more than has been delivered thus far. 

SMOKING HOT

Todd Berry – ULM

So, Berry doesn’t sit at as high as Miles and Petrino, but he is not off the radar by any means. ULM garnered some attention in recent years with its close games against Baylor (47-42) and Auburn (31-28), in addition to its win over Arkansas in 2012 (34-31). But the production since that season has been nothing close to what ULM bolstered in 2012. The Warhawks' saving grace in recent years has been their defense, so in order to gain more job security moving forward, Berry will need to focus on developing their offense to the same standard. If Berry can build a stronger rushing attack and pick up at least six wins, then we might see him with the Warhawks after the 2015 season.

TOASTY

Doug Martin, New Mexico State

At the top of our toasty category we have Martin sitting cozily with his long-awaited promise of a rebuilt program. Statistically speaking, Martin has spent his first two years at NMS with back-to-back 2-10 records. Prior to this, Martin never had a winning season during his time as head coach at Kent State. To cut him some slack, we can acknowledge the fact that this New Mexico State team has not been an easy one to rebuild – but Martin is on the clock and needs to supply the Aggies with more than a two-win season in 2015.

Dennis Franchione, Texas State

Franchione has produced mediocre seasons that rarely get over the 7-5/6-6 records in recent seasons, and a team can only be mediocre for so long. This season will be his chance to change some things up on his roster and get over the hump that has plagued him since he took over. Fran’s contract was extended after his 6-6 season in 2013, so it looks like athletic director Larry Teis has faith in his abilities to revive this program. Whether you are looking at the NFL Draft picks that have come from the Franchione era or missed bowl game opportunities, the talk of Fran at New Mexico State is definitely stirring up some controversy.

BRISK

Scott Satterfield – Appalachian State

Satterfield’s position is really reliant on the way that App State shows up in the first half of the season. The question about this team going into 2015 is whether or not they will look more similar to the team that showed up during the first or second half of the 2014 season. Satterfield has been a positive addition to this Mountaineer football program, but with a new athletic director and pending extension, he will have to make 2015 a big year for App State in order to solidify his position.

Blake Anderson – Arkansas State

Anderson is in a similar situation to Satterfield: win games early and keep your spot. He has a promising roster coming back, but winning games early in the season looks to be easier said than done. The Red Wolves open up their season at USC and then host Missouri on their home turf. That is a difficult way to kick off a season – but if we see Anderson build a team that can withstand that type of kickoff to a season, then there is little room to worry about where he stands at Arkansas State.

Joey Jones – South Alabama

Jones took over the South Alabama program back in 2008 and took the Jaguars from FCS contention to the FBS level. Last season the Jaguars ended their season with an overall record of 6-7 (5-3 conference play) and for Jones to stay out of water, he will need to win at least five games. A complete debacle of a season would realistically be the only way he could get the boot out of Mobile, and don't expect that event to take place.

ICE COLD

Neal Brown – Troy

Brown has been at Troy for a very short amount of time, but he does have to live up to the standard set by the legendary Larry Blakeney. As long as Brown keeps making progress and doesn’t make any bad moves in his first full season with the Trojans, he should be at ease. The winningest coach in Troy history is a tough act to follow, but Troy must have confidence in the name that follows that legacy.

Mark Hudspeth – Louisiana

Hud is sitting pretty with his position as head coach at Louisiana. The Ragin' Cajuns finished last season as runners-up to Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Conference, but I think we can expect a serious contention for that title in 2015. This season will test his recruiting class and coaching skills, as he has lost a number of key players to graduation and the NFL, including Terrance Broadway, Christian Ringo, Justin Hamilton, Trae Johnson, Jake Molbert and Boris Anyama. Hudspeth is expected to lead Louisiana to a winning season and that will definitely solidify his position even more as head coach.

Willie Fritz – Georgia Southern

Fritz is in a similar situation to Hudspeth. Head coaches are never truly out of the hot seat, but if that were true, then Hud and Fritz would be worry-free. Fritz proved his worth in the 2014 season, but that means he will be expected to do the same in the 2015 season. If this happens, his seat will be made of gold in Statesboro.

Kenzie Stanford - Kenzie Stanford is a Georgia Southern student and Atlanta native who spent her summer as an intern at Turner Sports and spent her last semester as the Sports Director for WVGS 91.9 “The Buzz.” She was apart of the women’s soccer team at Georgia Southern, but her passion for sports goes far beyond that. Per her graduation in May, she is planning to keep the dream alive and work in the sports industry. Watch for Kenzie’s coverage of the Sun Belt Conference and Georgia Southern University here at Southern Pigskin.