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Mark Stoops, Les Miles, Gus Malzahn on ESPN top college football hot seats

Three SEC coaches made ESPN’s hottest seats in college football.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

With the Kentucky Wildcats struggling mightily through their first two games, you can imagine the hot-seat talk for Mark Stoops is at an all-time high.

Stoops has watched his program rise from the ashes of the Joker Phillips regime, only to slowly fall back into those painful depths that had UK among the worst Power programs by the time Joker was fired.

That is why ESPN has Stoops all the way up at No. 2 on their updated rankings of the biggest hot seats in college football.

2. Mark Stoops, Kentucky (preseason rank: 9): Stoops' $12 million buyout is still the biggest thing working in his favor, but it might not save him if Kentucky continues on its current trajectory. Kentucky opened the season by blowing an 18-point halftime lead against Southern Miss and falling 44-35, surrendering 32 first downs and 520 yards to an offense coordinated by Shannon Dawson, whom Stoops fired in December. The Wildcats were then stomped in The Swamp 44-7, dropping their 30th straight game to Florida. The schedule eases up the next two weeks (New Mexico State, South Carolina), but if Kentucky doesn't start reflecting its supposedly improved recruiting soon, Stoops could be out soon.

Ironically, Stoops is among three SEC coaches who made the top three of this ranking. Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn came in at No. 3, which is no real surprise either.

And coming in at No. 1 was the LSU Tigers’ Les Miles, who managed to survive a strong push to have him fired last year, but while he saved his job, he may have only delayed the inevitable.

1. Les Miles, LSU (preseason rank: 8): Miles survived a coup in November, but he couldn't escape Lambeau Field with a season-opening win over unranked Wisconsin. Even if LSU had squeaked out a win, the primary concern about Miles -- an often-ineffective and potentially dated offense -- had materialized in Green Bay. The optics are especially important here, and LSU has to start looking like a consistently viable passing attack to compete in the SEC. Miles needs his offense to show up Saturday against Mississippi State, which beat South Carolina last week. LSU then travels to Auburn, so we'll soon know much more about Miles' future.

Which brings us to this question: If all three of these coaches end up being fired this offseason, do you think UK should go after Malzahn or Miles? The latter seems like an obvious yes, but an unrealistic one at that. Malzahn is probably a more realistic option if he’s canned, but his stock isn’t exactly high right now.