Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the Hot Seat Report, an updating list of college basketball head coaches in various stages of low job security. Each week, coaches will be added/removed/moved around based on team’s performance. To see the list of coaching changes that have already happened, head over to the Coaching Carousel page. Note: Coaches in each category are sorted alphabetically.
(Last update: Thursday, Mar 16, 2017)
YOUR CHAIR IS ON FIRE, SIR
Coaches at the end of the line at their current school. You will be seeing them here very soon.
- Kim Anderson (Missouri) (***UPDATE: Anderson has stepped down)
- Anderson made a viral splash when he rose from a literal casket during Missouri’s ‘Halloween and Hoops’ event to symbolize that he and his team are not yet dead, despite a combined 19-44 record in his first two seasons. Unfortunately for Anderson, this season was even worse – the Tigers have losses to NC Central, Eastern Illinois and Lipscomb (among others) and finished SEC play alone in last place for the third straight season with nine straight losses. Anderson’s success at D-II Central Missouri did not translate to success at his alma mater, and this season turned out to be his last at Mizzou.
- Brad Brownell (Clemson) (***UPDATE: Brownell will return)
- Clemson hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, Brownell’s first season after taking over for Oliver Purnell. The Tigers were decent in 2013-14 but haven’t won more than 17 games in any other season during Brownell’s tenure. A win at rival #22 South Carolina was nice, but the season has been filled with far more close losses than upset wins and the Tigers remain at the bottom of the ACC. There are so many tough teams in the ACC making Clemson a tough place to succeed. But it looks like Brownell’s time has finally run out.
- Mark Gottfried (NC State) (***UPDATE: Gottfried will not return next season)
- If you look solely at NCAA Tournament results, you would probably see Gottfried as a success in Raleigh: four bids through five seasons and two trips to the Sweet 16. Gottfried’s teams have a tendency to pull a big upset here and there (see Villanova in the 2015 Tournament) and have had surprising success against Duke (including a win at Cameron in January) but finish each season in relatively average standing. This year’s group balanced wins against #18 Duke and #21 Virginia Tech with losses to Illinois and lowly Boston College, and is out of the NCAA field for the second straight year. After previously denying it would do so, NC State released on statement on 2/16 announcing that Gottfried would finish out the year but not return for 2017-18.
- John Groce (Illinois) (***UPDATE: Groce has been fired)
- Groce moves back up a section after the Illini’s unfathomable loss at Rutgers, a game they needed to win to keep the NCAA hopes alive. Illinois’ five-game winning streak came to an abrupt and disappointing end this weekend in New Jersey, which was then followed by a blow-out loss to Michigan in the BTT. Groce reached the Sweet 16 in his final season at Ohio and nearly did the same in his first season at Illinois. However, the Illini have not been back to the Tournament since then (2013) and last season missed postseason play altogether. 5-star recruit Jeremiah Tilmon is signed for next season, something that may help Groce stay on another year. This is a situation where Coach probably deserves another chance, but pressure on AD Josh Whitman may ultimately prevail.
- Johnny Jones (LSU) (***UPDATE: Jones has been fired by LSU)
- Here’s a coach that arguably should have been fired after last season. Jones had the future #1 overall pick and a very top-heavy SEC field in his favor and still failed to lead the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament. It seemed like LSU was holding onto him for the sake of keeping Ben Simmons, but Jones’ head coaching resume and the utter disappointment of last season make it nearly impossible to justify keeping him on another year. Not to mention the Tigers finished 2-16 in SEC play with one of those wins coming against Mizzou (see above).
- Steve Masiello (Manhattan)
- Masiello’s tenure at Manhattan has been an eventful one. He quickly turned the program around and had the Jaspers in the NCAA Tournament in year three after a ten-year draught. After that season, Masiello excepted the head coaching position at South Florida, only to have the offer pulled weeks later after it came to light that he had lied about receiving his degree from Kentucky. Manhattan took Masiello back, on the condition that he receive his degree (he did), but things haven’t been so rosy since then. Another trip to the NCAAT in 2015 is overshadowed by a 13-18 finish last year and a 10-22 record this year. In January, Masiello went on a strange rant about “fraudulent society” following a home loss to Siena. With the on-court success gone, one would expect Masiello’s time in Manhattan has come to an end.
- Scott Sutton (Oral Roberts) (***UPDATE: Sutton is out at ORU)
- Sutton has been the head man at ORU since 1999, winning more than 300 games during his tenure. But the on-the-court success has been lacking over the last few seasons, and this year’s team has the unfortunate distinction of finishing last in the Summit League and therefore not even qualifying for the conference tournament (all other 8 teams are in). The Golden Eagles haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2008, though Sutton did lead the team to the CBI two years back. Sutton has now finished under .500 for two straight years, something that hasn’t happened at ORU in over fifteen years. Historically, Sutton has been a success at ORU. He’s been to the NCAA Tournament three times – three more times than previous coach Bill Self – but now is the time to make a change.
THIS SEAT IS GETTING RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now. That may not even be enough…
- Tony Benford (North Texas) (***UPDATE: Benford has been fired)
- This is Benford’s fifth season at UNT, and the fourth straight in which the team’s win total will be lower than the year before. The Mean Green started C-USA play back in 2013 and have not finished higher than a tie for 7th in the four seasons since then. This year, Benford’s squad will sit alone at the bottom of the standings with just two conference wins. There’s a good chance Benford’s fifth season will be his last.
- Mike Brennan (American)
- Mike Brennan was hired at American in 2013 and quickly turned an Eagles team that finished 10-20 the year before into the Patriot League tournament champion and a member of the field of 68. However, his teams have seen win totals drop in each season since, from 20 to 17 to 12 to just 8 this year. On Tuesday, the Eagles were easily dispatched from the Patriot League Tournament by 8-seed Navy and the season is now over. All three leading scorers this year were underclassmen, so Brennan may get another year to build on this young squad. But firing him now would certainly be justified.
- Jim Christian (Boston College)
- Christian is in just his third year at BC, but the first two were so rough that he still finds himself on a very hot seat. Last season, the Eagles finished 7-25 and an unfortunate 0-18 in ACC play. BC at the very least improved in win total over last year, finishing 9-23 (2-16 ACC). A big deciding factor may be the availability/interest of Auburn coach (and BC alum) Bruce Pearl, who just completed the Tigers’ first winning season since 2008-09.
- Jeff Lebo (East Carolina) (***UPDATE: Lebo will return next season)
- Lebo’s Pirates won the CIT back in 2013, the first ever postseason title for a program that has been to the NCAA Tournament just twice in its 50+ year history. Expectations aren’t super high at ECU, but since leaving C-USA for the brighter lights of The American the Pirates have been non-contenders. Lebo has a long coaching history but only twice has he put together back-to-back winning seasons – the last time was 2002-04 at Chattanooga. Lebo has been sidelined since mid-January due to hip surgery, but the Pirates have been average at best in his absence. Also of note is a reported $2 million buyout, which may make it difficult for AD Jeff Compher to justify firing Lebo this offseason.
- Tim Miles (Nebraska) (***UPDATE: Miles will return next season)
- There have been flashes of progress within the “Nebrasketball” program throughout Miles’ five-year tenure. But in the end, the Huskers always seem to find their way back to the bottom of the Big Ten standings. Save for a 2014 NCAA Tournament appearance, Miles’ teams have finished 10th or worse every year. The school made the change to Miles in 2012 after their first season in the Big Ten was a dud. Five years later and the program has made zero strides forward and fans are eager to try something new.
- Dave Pilipovich (Air Force) (***UPDATE: Pilipovich will return next season)
- Pilipovich was promoted to interim head coach in February 2012 after previous coach Jeff Reynolds was fired for going 63-82 (.434) over 4+ seasons at the helm. As he’s about to finish his fifth full season, Pilipovich sits at 71-92 (.436) with just one CIT appearance (in 2013) to show for. The Falcons have not finished higher than 6th in the Mountain West during his tenure. Athletic director Jim Knowlton has been on the job since March 2015 and at this point has giving Pilipovich and staff more than enough time to start winning. We could see a change in command this offseason (I’ll see myself out…).
I’VE GOT MY EYE ON YOU, COACH
Here are those guys that are having a rough year (or two… or three…) but aren’t in total danger. Yet.
- Tom Crean (Indiana) (***UPDATE: Crean has been fired)
- Crean has finally found his way onto this list. It’s hard to justify, as the Hoosiers were outright Big Ten champions just a year ago and went to the Sweet Sixteen. Crean was Big Ten Coach of the Year and still has a $4 million buyout – it drops to $1 million on July 1st but that may be too late to land a good replacement. But this season has been bad enough that Crean’s job security deserves to at least been questioned. The Hoosiers have been dogged by injuries this year, but ultimately have done very little with a roster that features several future pros. Alumni aren’t happy, but at the same time the dream candidate Brad Stevens is not likely to leave his cushy job with the Celtics right now. The latest rumors surround Crean perhaps leaving on his own for a different job (Missouri?), but don’t expect to see Crean fired this month…
- Derek Kellogg (UMass) (***UPDATE: Kellogg has been fired)
- Since making the NCAA Tournament in 2014, Kellogg’s Minutemen have been in a steady decline. UMass signed Kellogg to a 5-year extension in October of 2014 making him the highest paid state employee in Massachusetts, but the program has yet to get any return on that investment. This year’s squad lost 10 of 13 headed into the A-10 Tournament. Granted his team was young – the only senior on the roster is a walk-on – but the fanbase is getting restless. Kellogg played for John Calipari at UMass in the mid-90s and spent eight seasons as his assistant at Memphis before getting his current gig in 2008. Outside of three (straight) 20+ wins seasons, UMass has been a below-average team in the A-10. Kellogg needs to right the ship next season or he will likely be out of a job this time next year.
- Greg Lansing (Indiana State) (***UPDATE: Lansing will remain at ISU)
- The Sycamores have finished below .500 in each of the past two seasons and this year finished tied for dead last in the Missouri Valley. Lansing made the NCAAT in his first season (2011) and has made a total of 4 postseason appearances with the program, but these last few seasons have been much tougher in Terre Haute. Lansing has a long history with the school – before taking over as head coach in 2010 he had two separate stints for a total of seven seasons as an ISU assistant – so he is probably safe. But fans are not happy to see their proud program in the conference basement, and three of this year’s four leading scorers will graduate. Things won’t be getting any easier for Lansing.
- Gary Waters (Cleveland State) (***UPDATE: Waters has announced his retirement)
- The Vikings are coming off a 9-23 season in which they finished second to last in the Horizon League at 4-14. This year didn’t end much better, as Gary Waters’ team finished 9-22 overall and 5-13 in Horizon play. Waters has been at CSU since 2006, winning the Horizon League title in 2010-11 and going to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 (that team featured future NBA player Norris Cole). Like the title of this section says, we will continue to keep an eye on the Waters situation this month.
COACHES THAT ARE SAFE
This section is comprised of coaches who were previously in one of the above categories this season or who are starting to feel heat but are in no real danger of actually being fired right now.
- Mike Anderson (Arkansas)
- Before coming to Fayetteville, Anderson went to six NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons as a head coach at UAB and Missouri. 2011 marked a homecoming for Anderson, who spent seventeen seasons as a Razorbacks assistant under legendary head coach Nolan Richardson. Five and a half seasons in, Anderson has just one NIT and one NCAA trip under his belt and last season finished a meager 16-16. That was good for 8th place in wide open (though top heavy) SEC. This year’s team is without a signature win and recently lost to Missouri, but a top-half finish in the SEC still seems likely and will buy Anderson some more time. Most bracketologists have the Hogs safely in the 2017 NCAA field for now.
- Pat Chambers (Penn State)
- Penn State men’s basketball success is defined, at this point, by finishing the season above .500. The Lions have been to just two NCAA Tournaments in the new millennium and the program’s 20-year peak was the 2009 NIT Championship. Chambers’ squad finished 18-16 in 2014-15, the high point of his now 5+ year tenure. This year’s squad seems destined for a similar finish – but boasts two top-25 home wins. They are (clap clap) Penn State, so it’s probably silly to list Chambers on the Hot Seat Report at this point. The Nits will miss the Tourney again this year but have looked much better than in recent years.
- Tracy Dildy (Chicago State)
- Chicago State is a tough job. Chicago is a talent-rich city but the Cougars have a hard time getting the top tier players to stay home. Couple that with the fact that the program is the furthest east of any WAC school and often have to travel long distances for road games – road games that have overwhelmingly been losses over the last 10+ years. Dildy is a Chicago guy, something that CSU needs, but season after season of losses and last/near-last place finishes will eventually lead to a coaching change. However, last summer Dildy was named interim athletic director at Chicago State, which shows some commitment from the school to the coach and ultimately keeps his job safe. Firing Dildy would mean opening up two huge positions within the CSU athletic department.
- Anthony Evans (Florida International)
- Each year, on court results have gotten progressively worse for FIU and head coach Anthony Evans. The Panthers have finished below .500 in each of Evans’ first three seasons at the helm and this year’s team sits alone at the bottom of the C-USA standings. Evans’ last job was at Norfolk State, where he steered the Spartans through four rough seasons before making the NCAA Tournament in year five. In year six, NSU won the MEAC regular season title and a spot in the NIT. By that measure, FIU should expect big things next year. If not, Evans is probably out the door.
- Chris Mullin (St. John’s)
- Surprise December wins over Syracuse and #13 Butler were quickly overshadowed by losses to Old Dominion, LIU Brooklyn and a then (1-5) Delaware State team (in Queens!). The Big East season played out much better as the Johnnies finished 7-11, a vast improvement over their 1-17 record a year ago. St. John’s most famous basketball alum is building something in this program and it will be exciting to watch how far he can take this team.
- Kevin Ollie (UConn)
- Ollie and the Huskies were on top of the basketball world less than three years ago, but watching this year’s team you wouldn’t even remotely know it. The last time the Huskies had a sub-.500 overall record in January was 1987, Jim Calhoun’s first season in Storrs. Ollie is a Calhoun disciple who inherited a team just two years removed from a National Championship win, but this year’s team finished in the unfamiliar territory: the middle of the AAC. It would be very expensive for UConn to fire Ollie now – his contract is fully-guaranteed through 2019 – but his post-title goodwill is running very thin. Ollie is going to need to right the ship next year if he plans to stay at his alma mater beyond his current contract.
- Richard Pitino (Minnesota)
- The younger Pitino needed a big year to get the critics off his back and he started off the season in good shape: the Gophers at one point were ranked 24th with a 15-2 record. After losing the next 5 games and dropping to the bottom half of the conference, Minnesota quickly jumped back to the top with an 8-game winning streak to give the program its first 20-win season since 2013-14. Not only is Pitino’s job safe, but on Monday he was honored by both the media and BT coaches as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
- Lorenzo Romar (Washington) (***UPDATE: Romar has been fired)
- While he continues to win on the recruiting trail – landing potential #1 pick Markelle Fultz this year and top-2 recruit Michael Porter next – Lorenzo Romar is not doing much winning on the court. The Huskies haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011 and have just 2 NIT early exits in the time since. This season was particularly disappointing, as Fultz figures to be a top draft pick but the team finished nearly dead last in the Pac-12. Romar won’t get fired with Porter coming to campus next year (he also hired Porter’s father as an assistant coach this offseason), but this season was too rough to leave him off this list completely.
- John Thompson III (Georgetown) (***UPDATE: JTIII has been fired)
- Georgetown is not going to fire JTIII. The Hoyas will finish this year ahead of only DePaul at the bottom of the Big East, a conference in which they once reigned supreme. John Thompson III led the team to at least an NIT berth in each of his first eleven seasons in DC, but this will now be two straight years with no postseason play. However, the head coach’s name is the one thing that will always give him the benefit of the doubt at Georgetown, at least so long as his father – Hall of Famer John Thompson – is around the basketball program. AD Lee Reed would be silly to mess with that relationship and cut JTIII free after a couple rough years. But having said that, the alumni are not going to allow their coach, regardless of who he is, be this uncompetitive for much longer. Time to get back to winning.
- Bruce Weber (Kansas State)
- After two quick trips to the NCAAs and a surprise share of the Big 12 title in 2013, Weber’s Wildcats have finished 5th or lower three straight seasons and the cracks were starting to show. However, upsets over #7 West Virginia and #2 Baylor (plus two near upsets over #3 Kansas and one to #1 Baylor), have Bruce Weber’s job in a much safer place. The Wildcats have a solid NCAA resume, plus a $2.5 million buyout was added into Weber’s most recent contract extension. Weber will be back next year.