“The more time you have as a coach, you can really build your program and recruit to a certain personality that fits who you are,” said Matt Luke, the coach at Mississippi. “Fortunately or unfortunately, this is a performance-based business, and with the amount of money that people are making in this league, people are expecting wins now.”
But the development of a title-winning program, several coaches noted, is not instant. Nick Saban, the most feted coach of the era, was 7-6 in his first year at Alabama before N.C.A.A. penalties reduced the win total to two. He posted a 12-2 record the next season. He capped his third season in Tuscaloosa with a national championship and was quickly honored with a nine-foot bronze statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Saban and Kirby Smart of Georgia have as much employment certainty as any coaches in the sport. Orgeron, whose last team finished at No. 6 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, betrays no worries, and Mark Stoops just presided over a 10-3 season at Kentucky.
And the head coaches who are entering their second seasons with their current programs have some time, at least conceivably.
“Most of them have such big buyouts, they may get an extra year to see if they can get it going,” Spurrier said. “But if you lose two or three years in a row, they’ve got plenty of money, and they’ll have to make changes. It’s as simple as that.”
(Despite a losing record last season, Tennessee’s second-year head coach, Jeremy Pruitt, is among those who appear safe: “I don’t know who’s on the proverbial hot seat, except for me, probably,” Fulmer, the athletic director, said lightly.)