Three of the 12 FBS coaches in the state of Texas arguably face a make-or-break season at their respective universities.
Three programs – Texas Tech, SMU, and TCU – are under new leadership heading into 2022. Steve Sarkisian is in his second year at Texas. Dave Aranda and Jeff Traylor won conference championships last season for Baylor and UTSA, respectively. Dana Dimel led UTEP to its first bowl game in nearly a decade and Dana Holgorsen has his Houston Cougars racing towards the Big 12 after a 12-2 finish in 2021 that included a bowl win over Auburn.
That leaves North Texas, Rice, and Texas State as the programs with head coaches on the hot seat. Seth Littrell is 37-38 heading into his fifth season in charge of the Mean Green, but they’re 14-21 over the last three seasons. Mike Bloomgren (Rice) and Jake Spavital (Texas State) are a combined 20-58 over seven total seasons at their respective universities. All three need to reach a bowl game, or at least approach a .500 record, to return in 2023.
Seth Littrell, North Texas
Record: 37-38 (7th season)
Best case: It’ll take another bowl berth for North Texas to feel good about the direction of the program as it heads to the AAC following the season. A winning record likely guarantees a chance for Littrell to lead the Mean Green into their next athletic chapter. New additions offensively could elevate North Texas’ offense back to the Mason Fine era.
Worst case: The back-to-back nine-win seasons feel like a lifetime ago for Littrell and North Texas. The road only gets tougher in the coming years with a move to the AAC happening next season. Losses on defense – specifically KD Davis and the Murphy twins – return the unit to the basement of Conference USA while the offensive additions don’t make instant impacts.
Mike Bloomgren, Rice
Record: 11-31 (5th season)
Best case: Rice finally figures out the quarterback position and the Owls ride that offensive consistency to a bowl game. Bloomgren doesn’t care if it is McMahon or Wiley who seizes the starting spot, but the fifth-year head coach needs one of those guys to play consistently and stay healthy. The defense should be a strength of the team, especially along the defensive line and in the secondary. The running game is in good hands, and the offensive line is experienced. The passing game might determine Bloomgren’s future at Rice.
Worst case: More injuries or inconsistencies (maybe both) create the problems Bloomgren and his program experienced in the first four seasons under his charge. Players get hurt and the Owls simply don’t have talented enough depth to overcome that adversity. Rice finishes the year at a familiar four wins and the administration must decide if the status quo is good enough as the Owls move to the AAC.
Jake Spavital, Texas State
Record: 9-27 (4th season)
Best case: The Bobcats finish the season with at least six wins and reach a bowl game for the first time in program history. That provides Spavital with the evidence that his blueprint works, and that Texas State can be a contender in a new-look Sun Belt with more resources. One of the new quarterbacks provides consistency and stability, while some position changes on defense allow the Bobcats to create sacks and turnovers.
Worst case: The offense remains handicapped by inconsistent offensive play, specifically at quarterback. The defense continues to struggle on third downs and with creating takeaways and negative plays. And the Bobcats limp to another three- or four-win season without much hope that the roster will improve enough by 2023 for the results to be any different. That leads to another change at head coach, which provides even more instability for a program trying to find its footing in an improving Sun Belt conference.
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