The hot-seat conversation is one that is always very prominent this time of year. It’s extremely rare if a conference doesn’t have anyone who should be concerned about their job for the upcoming season.
But that seems to be the case in the B1G, at least according to ESPN.
College football writer Adam Rittenberg recently compiled a list of the head coaches on the hot seat entering the 2020 season, looking at everyone across the country. When it came time to dive into the B1G, there were no names on the list.
However, in a subcategory of Rittenberg’s story (subscription required), he did mention Lovie Smith (Illinois), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State) and Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) as coaches to “keep an eye on” for next season. In other words, if things go awry for any of the three, the seat could heat up.
Smith seems to have bought himself some time after leading Illinois to its first bowl berth since 2014. Even though the Illini lost to Cal, wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State in the middle of a four-game winning streak ignited a little faith in Smith’s ability to turn things around. But Illinois can’t experience a significant drop-off next season, or Smith’s status may be in question.
In East Lansing, there’s been growing unrest with Dantonio still occupying the sideline. As much as he’s accomplished over his career at Michigan State, the Spartans are 7-6 each of the last two seasons and are a modest 27-24 over the last four years. If it’s another .500 year, Dantonio could be on his way out.
Harbaugh seems like the long-shot of the bunch, but anything is possible. After a fifth-straight loss to Ohio State, the Michigan head coach needs to continue to post double-digit win seasons and perhaps knock off the Buckeyes to secure his spot in Ann Arbor. But considering what was happening in Ann Arbor before his arrival, he appears to have a safe grip on his job.