Rivals national columnist Mike Farrell is here with an early look at the coaches on the hot seat entering the 2022 season, a list of the best incoming transfers for each Pac-12 program and speculation about five crazy things that could happen next season.
1. COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT ENTERING 2022
It’s never too early to look at the hot seat, especially after Auburn nearly dismissed Bryan Harsin last week. Here are the coaches that I’m watching heading into the spring.
Scott Frost, Nebraska: A shocking retention, Frost has simply not delivered at his alma mater after his massive success at UCF. He’s had four consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t finished higher than fifth in the Big Ten West. The program feels rudderless and, with a new athletic director in place, Frost is likely gone after the season unless the Huskers makes major strides on the field.
Mike Norvell, Florida State: The Seminoles haven’t had a winning season in five years now, and the heat is ratcheting up in Tallahassee. Between losing top recruits to the likes of Jackson State and very underwhelming performances on the field, Norvell has his work cut out for him moving forward.
Steve Sarkisian, Texas: Yes, Sark is only entering his second year at the helm of the Longhorns, but we all know that expectations at Texas are as high as they are anywhere in the country. And after completely falling apart in the middle of last season, including a loss to lowly Kansas, he needs to come out of the gate with a bang this year. Luckily for him, UT picked up Quinn Ewers from the portal and he should settle the quarterback position for the next couple of seasons.
Dino Babers, Syracuse: It was a bit of a shock when the Orange decided to retain Babers after only one winning season in six years. He’s 29-43 at Syracuse, and his offense hasn’t clicked in the same way that it did during his tenure at Bowling Green. They’ll be leaning even more on Sean Tucker this year, who was one of 2021’s breakout stars.
Scott Satterfield, Louisville: Satterfield is one of the more under-the-radar names on the hot seat entering 2022. Even though the Cardinals went to a bowl game this past year, Louisville has yet to find any semblance of defense in his three seasons leading the program. If they’re going to compete in the ACC, they’re going to really need to step up on that side of the ball.
Herm Edwards, Arizona State: This has less to do with his record, as he hasn’t had a losing record in four years, and more to do with the turmoil and investigations around the program. If the Sun Devils’ record takes a turn for the worst – which is very possible considering the talent they’ll be losing on both sides of the ball – he may not be long for that job.
Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech: Collins has yet to win more than three games in a season during his tenure. We knew there would be bumps along the way when he had to completely remake an offense that had been running the triple option for more than a decade. But between a 9-25 record and losing top players to the portal, it’s going to be tough to see him lasting much longer in Atlanta.
Bryan Harsin, Auburn: The man on the hottest seat in the country, Harsin is effectively a dead man walking at Auburn even if the administration has come out and said he’s not going to be fired. Unless the Tigers win 10-plus games next year, I cannot imagine that he’s still coaching on the Plains in 2023. And if he wins those games, will he want to stay?
2. THE BEST INCOMING TRANSFERS FOR EACH PAC-12 PROGRAM
Let’s look at the Pac-12 and identify the top incoming transfer for each program:
Arizona: Jayden de Laura (QB, Washington State) – The Wildcats have hit the portal hard, bringing in no less than seven players so far. But De Laura is going to have the biggest impact simply because he plays the most impactful position and proved that he is more than capable as a starter last season at Washington State.
Arizona State: Nesta Jade Silvera (DT, Miami) – A multi-year starter for the Hurricanes, the big man on the defensive line will look to beef up a unit that finished 12th in the nation last year in total defense. A really solid pickup for Herm Edwards.
Cal: Jackson Sirmon (LB, Washington) – Cal’s defenses have been strong every year under Justin Wilcox, and with the addition of Sirmon the Bears are doubling down. Sirmon was the Huskies leading tackler last season and in Wilcox’s 3-4 scheme he’ll have free reign to work sideline to sideline and rack up the tackles.
Colorado: Ramon Jefferson (RB, Sam Houston State) – Jefferson was an FCS All-American this past season for one of the strongest programs in the country at that level and should bring some much needed punch to a running back room that did not perform well this past season. He had more than 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Bearkats last season, leading them to the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoff.
Oregon: Bo Nix (QB, Auburn) – Quarterback was one of the biggest issues for the Ducks last season that ultimately led to their demise. Enter Nix, who made his memorable collegiate debut as a true freshman against Oregon beating them on a late touchdown to Seth Williams. Now, he’s headed to Eugene to stabilize the position for new head coach Dan Lanning.
Oregon State: N/A – The Beavers have yet to add anyone from the portal, but definitely will keep their eyes out especially at the skill positions on both sides of the ball.
Stanford: Patrick Fields (S, Oklahoma) – The only addition for the Cardinal, Fields is still a big pick up for coach David Shaw. We’ve seen Stanford’s defense struggle on the back end over the past couple of seasons, and the veteran Fields should help shore that up.
UCLA: Azizi Hearn (CB, Wyoming) – One of the Mountain West’s top corners from last season, Hearn will look to replace Jay Shaw, who entered the portal himself and ended up at Wisconsin. He earned a PFF grade 82.2 last season and will be in contention for All-Pac 12 awards next season.
USC: Caleb Williams (QB, Oklahoma) – Lincoln Riley may say that he didn’t take players from Oklahoma but we all know that he raided the Sooners top talent, and that included Williams. One of last season’s breakout stars, Williams will be the starter from day one for the Trojans and will look to continue the USC quarterback tradition of excellence.
Utah: Logan Kendall (TE, Idaho) – Kendall was an FCS All-American last season and offers the toughness and versatility that Kyle Whittingham loves. He’s a tough nosed blocker with soft hands, and can line up in-line, as an H-back, and even at fullback. One of the most underrated pickups of the entire portal cycle.
Washington: Michael Penix Jr. (QB, Indiana) – While Sam Huard is still the future of the position in Seattle, Penix offers a really high floor after a tough season coming back from injury in 2021. He was incredible in 2020 and has the ability to be one of the most impactful players in the country.
Washington State: Cameron Ward (QB, Incarnate Word) – Ward was one of the most electric players at any level last year, and he’s reuniting with his old offensive coordinator Eric Morris on the Palouse. He’ll put up massive numbers next season and if you’re looking for a super dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, look no further than Ward.
3. FIVE CRAZY THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN NEXT SEASON
Finally, out of respect for the Cincinnati Bengals (and Cincinnati Bearcats) here are five crazy things you might laugh at now but could definitely happen in 2022.
1. Texas A&M wins it all — I’m comparing the Aggies to the Rams I suppose, a team with a really good defense that just needs the right quarterback to make the difference under a very good offensive coach. Jimbo Fisher knows quarterbacks and perhaps Max Johnson is that guy?
2. Utah makes the playoff — This is my San Francisco 49ers for college football next season, a physical team that will battle and rough you up in every game. USC is the focus of the Pac-12 as the Rams were of their division but Utah is ready to smack some people around.
3. Miami wins the ACC — This is the Bengals comparison. Zac Taylor wasn’t a new coach like Mario Cristobal is but Cincinnati was a talented team that needed confidence and playmakers to step up and Miami has the playmakers.
4. Penn State wins the Big Ten — Ohio State should win it and if not, it should be Michigan or Michigan State, right? How about a team with a veteran quarterback and what should be a good defense? Maybe Rams like? OK, that’s a reach I know.
5. Alabama misses the SEC title game and playoff — The Chiefs had the most talent overall in my mind and didn’t make the Super Bowl so imagine if the same happens to Alabama? It could happen.