College football coaching hot seat 2024: Napier needs to win

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

College football's last two coaching cycles had dramatically different rhythms.

The most recent carousel started slowly and went pedal-down after the national title game. There were only two changes before mid-November and both -- Northwestern (Pat Fitzgerald) and Michigan State (Mel Tucker) -- occurred because of off-field problems. Texas A&M's historically expensive firing of Jimbo Fisher made a splash, but the cycle seemed relatively uneventful until Alabama coach Nick Saban retired Jan. 10, setting off a flurry of movement. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's somewhat expected departure to the NFL -- followed by the Wolverines' expected promotion of offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore -- put an end to the activity.

The 2022 carousel, meanwhile, took a different path, defined by early firings. Six power conference coaches were let go before November, creating longer searches and several notable hires, including Colorado's Deion Sanders and Nebraska's Matt Rhule.

What's in store for 2024? The cycle could more closely resemble 2022, as there are more coaches squarely on hot seats who might not make it to November without strong starts to the season. Notable programs will be under the microscope, namely Florida, where Billy Napier must show tangible progress in Year 3, despite what looks like one of the nation's most taxing schedules. The SEC could be a hot spot for the upcoming carousel, as Arkansas' Sam Pittman and Vanderbilt's Clark Lea join Napier in needing to deliver strong results. And two seasons removed from guiding Baylor to a Big 12 championship and a No. 5 finish, Dave Aranda is facing job pressure.

Realignment certainly is a factor with the hot seat, as coaches who are struggling in new conferences are often in greater danger of being fired.

The early coaching hot seat list that follows is separated into three categories: coaches clearly on the hot seat, coaches whose situations are worth monitoring when the season begins, and potential retirement candidates.

Let's get started.