Every year there are coaches in the FBS ranks fighting for their jobs. It all comes down to success. Alumni and fan bases don't care about excuses, just wins.
This year, there are a number of head coaches with one foot out the door and another sub par season could result in some big programs making changes at the top.
LANE KIFFIN (USC): There is no hotter seat in the FBS ranks than the one that Kiffin currently sits on. He took over a perennial power a few years ago and has been anything but a good steward of what was given. Sure, Kiffin was shackled a bit by the sanctions levied on USC for indiscretions by the former regime and he has by all accounts recruited well considering he has had one hand tied behind his back during the process. Still, he has never produced on a consistent basis, whether it was with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers or at USC.
At 38 years old, Kiffin is still in the infant stages of what could be a long head coaching career. However, this may be his last chance with the Trojans.
In 2011, Kiffin led the team to a 10-2 record, but there was no pressure with a postseason ban. Last season was an epic failure though. USC sat atop the polls to start the year, but faded down the stretch with key losses in Pac-12 play. Finishing at 7-6 after a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, left tons of questions about the direction USC is headed.
What makes the Kiffin's seat even hotter is the fact that USC is widely regarded as the second-best team in Los Angeles. Ranking behind UCLA is not something USC faithful will stand for too long. This year's schedule certainly has its potential pitfalls, with road trips to Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon State and home dates with Oregon and Stanford. If the Trojans are unable to win a couple of those games, Kiffin's time at USC will probably come to a close.
KIRK FERENTZ (Iowa): The Hawkeyes' coach may be on borrowed time in Iowa City, as his successful run from 2002-04 is all but forgotten by those that follow Iowa football.
The dean of Big Ten coaches, Ferentz is also the owner of perhaps the worst contract in all of college football (from a school's perspective). The 14-year veteran will make just under $4 million dollars this season and yes, the Hawkeyes won 11 games in 2009, but have since gone 8-5 in 2010, 7-6 in 2011 and a lowly 4-8 in 2012.
The 2012 campaign was simply miserable, with a pair of non-conference losses to rival Iowa State and Central Michigan and only two Big Ten wins.
While his contract runs through 2020, and there would obviously be a huge buyout for Iowa to move in another direction, it may be better for the program than the current direction under Ferentz.
MACK BROWN (Texas): It is a "what have your done for me lately" world and in the FBS it is certainly no different. Sure the Longhorns won nine games in 2012, but success at Texas isn't measured by singe-digit win totals. It is measured by Big 12 crowns and national championship runs.
Football in the state of Texas is sacred and although Brown has had plenty of success in his tenure (one national championship and one runner-up), the team has taken a distant backseat in its own state of late.
With teams like Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M elevating their status among the FBS elite, Brown finds himself in a a bit of a sticky situation. The team did win nine games last season, but it was a hollow nine, as the Longhorns finished just 5-4 in the Big 12 and were routed by rival Oklahoma (63-21). The Longhorns were able to end the season on a strong note, with a 31-27 win over a very good Oregon State team in the Alamo Bowl, but they will need to carry that over into 2013 and contend for the Big 12 title for Brown to regain solid footing in Austin.
CHARLIE WEIS (Kansas): Although Weis has been in Lawrence only one season, it may not take too much longer before Kansas makes another change. An offensive guru in the NFL, Weis was named the 2005 National Coach of the Year at Notre Dame, leading the Irish to back-to-back BCS Bowl games (2005 and 2006). Still, he was unceremoniously bought out of his contract in South Bend and went back to a coordinator's role both in the NFL (Kansas City Chiefs) and in the FBS (Florida Gators) prior to landing at Kansas.
While the Jayhawks don't exactly have a winning tradition in terms of football and definitely take a backseat to the basketball program, Weis has to do better than his debut season in 2012. The Jayhawks managed just one win on the year and that came in the opener against FCS foe South Dakota State. There were some hard-nosed battles in the Big 12, but none of them resulted in a victory for Kansas, as the team enters 2013 with an 11-game losing streak in tow.
RANDY EDSALL (Maryland): The Maryland Terrapins are making a change next season, as they move from the ACC to the Big Ten. With it comes financial stability for the program, but that stability won't necessarily carry over to Edsall. His two seasons in College Park have been marred by long injury lists, but coming in after a highly successful stint at UConn and replacing the successful run under Ralph Friedgen, Edsall was supposed to keep the Terps on the right path.
That hasn't happened, as Maryland has won just six games over the last two seasons and only three games in conference play. A 4-8 finish last season, including a mere 2-6 mark in the ACC, has to have the powers that be second- guessing themselves.
With the new Big Ten era on the horizon, a winning season may be the only thing that will ensure Edsall comes along for the ride.
ON THE BACK BURNER: Coaches who may be starting to feel the heat include Gary Pinkel (Missouri), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Paul Pasqualoni (Connecticut), Ron English (Eastern Michigan) and Rich Ellerson (Army).