(STATS) – After nearly one-fifth of FCS schools – 24 of 124 – underwent head coaching changes during and after the 2017 season, the turnover should be considerably less this year.
That’s a positive because stability is key to having a successful program – on and off the field.
There will be changes, however. Sometimes it’s a firing, sometimes it’s a coach moving to another program. In addition, Jerome Souers might be in his last season at Northern Arizona and Buddy Pough his last at South Carolina State.
Here are five coaches who perhaps need their programs to post improvement in 2018 or the seat will warm after the season:
Jim Fleming (Rhode Island) – Fleming might tire of URI before the school tires of his respected ways. It’s quite difficult to win at the struggling CAA program – he’s 7-38 overall and 5-27 in conference games through four years of an original five-year contract. He was making much more money as an FBS assistant coach.
Mark Elder (Eastern Kentucky) – EKU replaced Dean Hood in 2015 and he was never below .500 in the Ohio Valley Conference with two titles and three playoff appearances in eight seasons. Elder is a mere 7-15 overall and 5-11 in the OVC in two seasons. This year’s team should be much improved, and Elder needs it.
Roger Hughes (Stetson) – Hughes treats his players like sons and led Stetson through the death of redshirt freshman Nick Blakely last summer, but since the Hatters extended Hughes through the 2018 season two years ago, they’re only 3-13 in Pioneer Football League games. He’s 16-40 overall and without a winning season since resurrecting the program in 2013.
Carroll McCray (Gardner-Webb) – The Runnin’ Bulldogs have been solid in two of McCray’s five seasons (2013 and ’16), but a repeat of last season – 1-10 with only a Division II win – must be avoided. The most recent newcomers in the Big South – Monmouth and Kennesaw State – have surpassed Gardner-Webb, so the Runnin’ Bulldogs will want to beat new addition Campbell this year.
Scott Wachenheim (VMI) – Surely, there’s extra leeway at a military school – especially one that hasn’t had a winning season since 1981 – but Wachenheim wants to avoid a winless season like a year ago. He’s 5-28 in three seasons, but just 2-21 in the formidable Southern Conference.