Sherrone Moore Ryan Day Dan Lanning college football

The 2024 college football season is steadfastly approaching. It will be underway in under two months, and Saturdays will feel like Saturdays again.

Every week, teams have something to prove. But some teams this year, as always, will have a bit of extra noise around them. Whether it’s self-inflicted or not, several coaches around the country will be feeling the heat. Not all hot seats are created equal, of course. And we hardly suggest any of the coaches on the list below should get fired if they don’t achieve their goals.

But these coaches have some different expectations ahead of them. So they, in turn, have a lot to prove.

Brent Venables (Oklahoma)

The Oklahoma Sooners are a juggernaut program. Over the years, who mans the ship in Norman hasn’t mattered because Oklahoma will typically do the work well themselves. After Lincoln Riley left OU for USC, the Sooners hired Brent Venables away from Clemson. Venables coached at OU under Bob Stoops, which was a return trip for him.

It’s gone—just okay. The Sooners are 16-10 under Venables and 10-8 in conference play. OU won just six games in Venables’ first season in Norman. Six wins are the fewest any Oklahoma team had in a single season since John Blake’s final season in 1998, which led to Stoops’ hiring.

Oklahoma has a lot of talent, but they have a new home this year: The SEC. OU and Texas will move into their new abode, and new challenges come along with it. Venables and Oklahoma each have something to prove in their new home, and what Venables does this season may go a long way toward determining his future.

Dan Lanning (Oregon)

Among the teams with the most hype around them this offseason is Oregon. The Ducks have been a perennial winner in the Pacific Northwest throughout the 2000s. But they’ve never quite recruited how they have under Dan Lanning, which has several thinking very highly of him and the Ducks.

Oregon has done their job under Lanning… for the most part. Entering last season, Lanning hadn’t beaten Oregon’s rivals, Washington and Oregon State. Last year, the Ducks beat the Beavers but fell to the rival Huskies twice. The first time was in an epic game in Washington, and the second happened in the final Pac-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas.

If Lanning and the Ducks want to prove there’s some bite to that bark, 2024 is theirs to take. They’re in a new conference, but they’re expected to do damage in the Big Ten. First impressions mean everything, after all.

Kalen DeBoer (Alabama)

The man that Lanning and Oregon couldn’t beat now coaches somewhere else. After Kalen DeBoer helped lead the Washington Huskies to the College Football Playoff Championship Game, he fled to take over the vacant Alabama job. Nick Saban surprised the world after he retired from his post in Tuscaloosa. The legendary coach leaves huge shoes to fill. The Alabama job might be pretty great, but there’s a ton of pressure-packed in that job down there. And nobody ever wants to replace a legend. DeBoer and the Tide will feel a lot of heat, but he needs to settle in.

DeBoer and Washington had a great season, but was it a one-year wonder? How will everything he has in mind translate to the SEC? It’s a different game from the west coast down to the south. However, his skills and prowess as a play-caller should give him plenty of room to breathe. His exciting offense at UW would be a thrill ride at Alabama, especially considering the talent you can pull in annually there. So, if he continues on his trail, he’ll be alright. But there’ll be much to prove.

Sherrone Moore (Michigan)

Kalen DeBoer isn’t the only coach replacing a legendary figure at a premier program. The Michigan Wolverines won the College Football Playoff. Then Jim Harbaugh and much of the coaching staff left Ann Arbor. Harbaugh is in Los Angeles now, and Sherrone Moore will take over the reins.

Moore already got a crash course in what it means to be the Michigan head coach in a high-pressure situation. Last year, Jim Harbaugh couldn’t coach in the final few weeks of the season because of the ongoing investigation into sign-stealing at Michigan. Moore had to replace Harbaugh in the midst of Michigan’s run to the Playoffs. Moore and Michigan went undefeated with a win over Penn State and arch-rival Ohio State.

While Michigan might not have the expectations of their Big Ten peers, given how much they lost, Moore will still have a bit of pressure on him. There was so much dissension around Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. Fans of Harbaugh might still wonder why he isn’t there and why Michigan and Harbaugh couldn’t ever agree on a contract. Nonetheless, Moore can prove he’s not just in Harbaugh’s shadow and can be his own man.

Ryan Day (Ohio State)

There is no coach in America with more to prove this year than Ryan Day. So much so that we even broke up the alphabetical order to lead to this point.

Ryan Day has the most to prove this year out of any coach in the nation. Day’s Ohio State Buckeyes will again enter the season with much hype and talent. They have arguably the best roster in the country. Their coaching staff is littered with heavy hitters. This and more are why Ohio State will be under the microscope from the jump.

It’s crazy, considering how successful they’ve been and how well they recruit, but Ohio State has lost three years to rival Michigan. They have come up short in their College Football Playoff opportunities. Day and Ohio State have reached incredible heights, but there’s one thing that Ohio State fans care about. Day and Ohio State haven’t gotten that done, and it’s put a lot of pressure on him. All eyes will be on Day and Ohio State this season, and if it doesn’t end well? Who knows what could happen?

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022