3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
It’s year six for Rodriguez at Arizona, and after he quickly built the program back up in 2012–14, things have taken a downturn the past two years. The Wildcats peaked in 2014, going 10–4 and 7–2 in conference play and winning the Pac-12 South. Since then, they’ve won a total of 10 games. A three-win season like the one they had in 2016 simply won’t cut it, and it doesn’t help that the athletic director who hired Rodriguez, Greg Byrne, left Arizona earlier this year for Alabama.
Rodriguez has a $9 million buyout clause after this season, which is a relatively steep price for a program like Arizona. Still should the Wildcats repeat their one-win mark in Pac-12 play or only marginally improve upon it, it’s easy to see Rodriguez being let go. And with a tough schedule coming—one of Arizona’s three non-conference games is against Houston, and the Pac-12 slate won’t yield any sure wins—the situation don’t look too rosy in Tucson.5. Todd Graham, Arizona State
This season will be Graham’s sixth in Tempe, which is about the time a coach either digs in or heads on his way. In this case, there’s been enough inconsistency to wonder if changes aren’t coming. Last fall, the Sun Devils went 5–7, following up a 6–7 campaign in 2015. Two losing years in a row isn’t what anyone expected from Graham after he won eight, 10 and 10 games in his first three years on the job. That could turn 2017 into a make-or-break year.
The Sun Devils won just two conference games a season ago, against Cal and UCLA, both of whom finished with disappointing years. And in their seven Pac-12 losses, the Sun Devils fell by an average of 19.7 points. None of this bodes well for Graham, a renowned defensive coach whose defense allowed an average of 39.8 points last year, good for fifth-most in the FBS.6. Jim Mora, UCLA
Over Mora’s tenure, which began in 2012, UCLA has gone from a first-place finish in the Pac-12 South to two consecutive years tied for second to a third-place finish and then, last fall, to fifth. That’s a steady drop, but the most precipitous fall came between 2015 and 2016. Before last season, the Bruins and outspoken sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen garnered plenty of hype, which made the team’s 4–8 finish all the more shocking. Rosen did miss the final six games of the season with an injury, but even so, the team went just 3–3 in games he started.
Having Rosen back as a junior should almost certainly make a difference for the Bruins, but it’s hard to predict how much. Another sub-.500 season might be more than Mora will be able to weather.
Check out the Full SI Top 10 List of Coaches on the Hot Seat HERE