Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the Hot Seat Report, an updating list of college basketball head coaches with low job security. Each week, coaches will be added/removed/shuffled 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.
(Most recent update: Monday, Apr 2, 2018)
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.
- 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 last year. Brennan just completed the fourth year of the six-year deal he signed after the NCAAT appearance, but the Eagles finished just 6-24 (3-15) and dead last in the Patriot League.
- Mark Fox (Georgia) (**UPDATE: Mark Fox has been fired after nine seasons)
- Fox was consistent at Georgia, but the level of play year-after-year had the fan base at wits’ end. The Bulldogs won at least 19 in each of the last four seasons, but at 18-15 (7-11 SEC) that streak ended in 2018. Fox had several opportunities on the late schedule to grab another statement win or two, but failed to capitalize. In a year where the SEC sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament, Georgia had an opening to make a splash. Unfortunately for UGA fans, Fox’s team fell flat yet again.
- John Giannini (La Salle) (**UPDATE: Giannini has stepped down)
- While it took Giannini eight seasons to get the Explorers to the NCAA Tournament, the 2013 run to the Sweet Sixteen was the first March Madness action for the program since finishing runner-up in 1955. That bought Giannini some leeway that is now running incredibly thin. The Explorers have finished above .500 just once since 2013 and this year puttered to a 13-19 record and the bottom of the A-10. It’s entirely possible that Giannini’s 14th year at the school will be his last.
- Dave Leitao (DePaul)
- This was an interesting hire back in 2015: on one hand, DePaul had the opportunity to bring back the last head coach to take them to the NCAA Tournament, but on the other hand, Leitao ditched the school for Virginia a year after that NCAA trip. A search firm was hired and the school decided on a guy that spurned them ten years earlier? Not to mention, he was paid over $2 million to go away when the Cavaliers finished 10-18 in 2008-09. The Blue Demons are finally playing within Chicago limits again, with the brand new Wintrust Arena opening its doors last year. Leitao might get another chance – it would be his fourth year in this stint and seventh overall – but the fact remains that Chicago kids need to buy in at DePaul if the program is ever going to turn the corner. Leitao is not there yet.
- Kevin Ollie (Connecticut) (**UPDATE: UConn has fired Kevin Ollie with cause)
- KO won a National Championship with the Huskies in year two, but last year’s campaign was such an abomination that we had to include him on the 2016-17 list. He found himself even higher on this year’s list with another rough campaign – the Huskies were 14-18 with just 8 wins over major conference opponents. Ollie was getting paid close to $3M/yr while his team finished below .500. Firing Ollie without cause before 6/1/18 could cost the university over $10M, but a small NCAA investigation opened in January may provide the school the opportunity to show cause.
- Tim O’Shea (Bryant) (**UPDATE: O’Shea has announced his retirement)
- The Bryant Bulldogs are just three seasons removed from a run of three-straight above-.500 finishes, but O’Shea’s squad found itself squarely at the bottom of the NEC once again. O’Shea helped guide the program into Division I, taking over in 2008 and leading the team through a four-year rough patch that included both 1-win and 2-win seasons. The team won 20 games combined in the last two seasons and this year was a brutal 3-28 (2-16) overall. Bryant was led in scoring by a trio of sophomores, so there’s reason to believe they can improve over the next couple years.
- Kevin Stallings (Pittsburgh) (**UPDATE: Stallings fired after just two seasons)
- We generally try to avoid putting coaches less than two full years into their tenure on this report, but the Stallings era in Pittsburgh was bad enough for fans to be begging for a change. The Panthers finished below .500 last year and finished this season with an embarrassing 0-18 ACC record (8-23 overall). Stallings’ team didn’t have win against a power-conference team this year and lost senior and leading rebounder Ryan Luther for the season. It’s hard to imagine a coach being let go after just two seasons (due to performance), but the fan scrutiny was undeniable. The fan base was generally unhappy about this hire from the beginning. There would have been riots if Stallings wasn’t removed as soon as the season was over.
- Reggie Theus (Cal State Northridge) (**UPDATE: Theus has been fired)
- The Matadors finished 6-24 (3-13) on the season, with two of those wins coming against NAIA opponents and the losses all coming against mid- to low-major competition. Cal State Northridge isn’t the easiest job, but Bobby Braswell was able to lead the Matadors to the NCAA Tournament less than 10 years ago. The program is just 53-105 (.335) in 5 seasons under Theus, so it’s hard to imagine him staying with the school much longer.
THIS SEAT IS RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now. That may not even be enough…
- Anthony Evans (FIU) (**UPDATE: Evans has been fired after five seasons)
- Evans worked through four tough years at Norfolk State before winning 26 games and going to the NCAA Tournament in year five. The 2017-18 season was year five for Evans at FIU and the final year of his contract. The Panthers finished last season in the basement of C-USA at 7-24 (3-15) and lost their four leading scorers to graduation (and fifth to a transfer). This season ended better (14-18), but the Panthers had losses to Elon, North Florida, James Madison and Stetson on the resume already without any quality wins to balance. At this point, Evans has not done enough to earn a new contract.
- Ernie Kent (Washington State) (**UPDATE: Kent will return in 2018-19)
- Wazzu is a tough job in a difficult conference. The school brought in Ernie Kent in 2014, a hire which had plenty of upside (Kent took Oregon to the Elite Eight in 2002 and 2007) and downside (he had been out of coaching for four years). The Cougars have not won more than 13 games in any of four seasons under Kent (12 this year). Again, this is a tough place to win and it is hard to say if any of the big ticket candidates will even be interested.
- Greg Lansing (Indiana State)
- Lansing’s tenure in Terre Haute has taken a turn – the Sycamores have seen their winning percentage decline for three straight years and haven’t been to the NCAAs since Lansing’s first season (2010-11). This March, the school cancelled the “rollover term” in Lansing’s contract, eliminating what had effectively been an annual, automatic one-year extension. This year’s team featured a good group of upperclassmen and the Missouri Valley was a bit more open with the departure of Wichita State, but the Sycamores failed to capitalize.
- Fran McCaffery (Iowa)
- McCaffery’s tenure in Iowa City has been largely positive, leading the Hawkeyes to three NCAAs and three NITs in his first seven years on the job. However, the Hawkeyes have not been able to turn the corner and finish any higher than a tie for third in the Big Ten. McCaffery has also failed to get the team beyond the Round of 32 in the NCAAs. This season may not be Fran’s last, but Iowa finished second-to-last in the Big Ten with a disappointing 14-19 (4-14) record. Though he brought in a strong recruiting class led by his son, McCaffery struggled without All-Big Ten senior Peter Jok. Iowa was never a contender in the Big Ten at all.
- Mark Turgeon (Maryland)
- The Terps had a mediocre year and that is precisely the reason why Turgeon finds himself on this list. Maryland hadn’t finished below 3rd in it’s first three seasons in the Big Ten, but Turgeon failed to get them beyond the Sweet Sixteen. Consistent 20-win seasons and NCAA berths will fly at a lot of schools, but Maryland is a place where players, fans and alums want more. Much more. The Terps finished this season in 8th – totally out of even the NIT conversation – and fans are not thrilled. At most schools, this wouldn’t be as huge an issue. But at Maryland, there are certain on-court expectations that Turgeon has consistently failed to meet.
- Marty Wilson (Pepperdine) (**UPDATE: Wilson will not return next season)
- Over the first five seasons of Wilson’s tenure, the coach built the Waves up to back-to-back CBI appearances and 4th place finishes in the WCC. However, the past season and a half have looked much more like his first couple on the job. The Waves finished just 9-22 last year and won even fewer this year (6). Only two wins this year came against Division I opponents, with one coming against UC Riverside (which recently fired head coach Dennis Cutts). Though Wilson is a Pepperdine grad, the on-court production has just fallen too far.
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.
- Jim Christian (Boston College)
- Christian was given a one-year contract extension prior to last season, only to lead the Eagles to another disappointing campaign (9-23, 2-16 ACC). In the first three seasons under Christian, the Eagles won just 6 conference games and sported an ugly 29-67 overall record. Then this past Summer, the Eagles lost five scholarship players to graduation or transfer and replaced that group with one grad transfer and four unranked recruits. Christian’s squad finished at 19-16 this season, easily topping last year’s win total and featuring signature wins over #1 Duke and #25 Miami at Conte Forum (and a near-upset at #9 Virginia). The Eagles found themselves back near the bottom of the ACC but the trip to the NIT was the first postseason appearance for BC since 2011.
- Tracy Dildy (Chicago State) (**UPDATE: Dildy has been fired)
- 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, Dildy is currently the 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. But the fact remains… the Cougars stink.
- Jason Gardner (IUPUI)
- Jaguars head coach Jason Gardner is an Indianapolis-native, playing for North Central HS and winning Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1999 before heading to Arizona. He returned to his home town in 2014 to take over the IUPUI program after just three seasons as a collegiate assistant, including one year with his Wildcats teammate Josh Pastner at Memphis. Given what seemed to be a great fit, Gardner has yet to move the needle at all at IUPUI. The Jaguars are well under .500 with Gardner and finished 11-19 (8-10) this season, the program’s first in the Horizon League.
- Steve Masiello (Manhattan)
- Masiello has had an eventful tenure at Manhattan, including accepting the South Florida job in 2014 only to have the offer pulled when the school discovered that Masiello had lied about graduating from Kentucky. Manhattan took the coach back on the provision that he complete his degree (he did), but the Jaspers have not been the same since. The school signed Masiello to a four-year extension in March 2016, but win totals dropped in each of the next three seasons. Last year’s team finished just 10-22 and tied at the bottom of the MAAC standings, while this year’s improved slightly to 14-17 overall. However, all but two of those wins came against teams below .500.
- Chris Mooney (Richmond)
- Mooney has been at Richmond since 2005, leading the Spiders to the NCAA Tournament twice (including a trip to the 2011 Sweet Sixteen). The last 7 seasons have not gone quite as well, as Mooney’s teams are 125-103 since that S16 appearance. Mooney is on the HSR because of his team’s 12-20 record, but an average conference season moved him down the list. Mooney got another year added to his contract last offseason (extended through 2021-22) and the school just hired a new AD in November – John P. Hardt from Bucknell – who may not want to make that kind of decision so early in his tenure.
- Richard Pitino (Minnesota)
- We had Pitino on the Hot Seat for much of last season but when the Gophers finished the Big Ten season winning eight of their last nine games, we moved him out of the danger zone. Pitino was named conference COY and the Gophers made their first NCAA Tournament under the fourth-year head coach. But this year it was off-court issues that originally landed Pitino back on the list: the complete mishandling of the situation surrounding senior Reggie Lynch’s sexual misconduct allegations, to be exact. Pitino allowed Lynch to still practice with the team despite being found responsible for actions and being literally banned from the campus, a decision that has many calling for his resignation as head coach. Adding to the situation is the Gophers’ on-court performance, as the Gophers finished the season by losing 15 of 17.
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.
- Brad Brownell (Clemson)
- After Clemson’s first round NIT loss, Brownell was given a weak “vote of confidence” by AD Dan Radakovich. Brownell eventually got a new contract, but his buyout figures have been shrunk considerably – it will now cost the school $1.7M to fire Brownell vs $3.0M under the old deal. That’s never a good sign, especially for a coach who has been to just one NCAA Tournament in seven seasons (his first year) and has won 16 or 17 games in each of the last three campaigns. But Brownell brought in a solid recruiting class and grad transfer Mark Donnal from Michigan to right the ship this season and results have been incredibly positive. The Tigers sport a 23-9 (11-7) record and wins over Ohio State, Louisville and UNC, good enough for a 5-seed in the NCAAs. It’s a remarkable turnaround for Brownell, who has gone from the dog house to dark horse COY candidate in just five months.
- Tim Miles (Nebraska)
- It seemed like Nebraska had hit the jackpot with Miles after the then-second year coach led the Huskers to the 2014 NCAA Tournament and a fourth place finish in the Big Ten. Since then, Miles’ teams have finished below .500 and 11th or 12th in the league three straight years. Coaches Database thought Miles would be fired after last season, but (former) AD Shawn Eichorst announced that Miles would get another year to turn it around. But it was Eichorst who was let go and Miles got the opportunity to show his value to new AD Bill Moos. This year’s squad was impressive, with wins over #14 Minnesota and #23 Michigan and a near upset at home over #13 Kansas. The Huskers finished with a 22-11 (13-5) record and without an NCAA Tournament berth, but the season marked a huge improvement from the three prior.
- Bruce Pearl (Auburn)
- It is certainly not the Tigers’ on-court performance that finds Pearl on this list. Auburn hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003 and Pearl’s team ended that streak. The Tigers are playing incredible basketball, co-champions of the SEC at 25-6 (13-5). However, Pearl’s staff’s involvement in the Adidas scandal that brought down assistant Chuck Person and others has his future at the school in some relative doubt. Reports indicate that Pearl was nearly fired this off-season due to his refusal to cooperate with the investigation. Pearl has been in trouble with the NCAA before but Auburn AD Jay Jacobs gave him the opportunity to return to the hardwood. Now Jacobs is retiring and new AD Allen Greene is stepping into a very awkward situation. Will he cut ties with Pearl despite the on-court success, or will it be forgive-and-forget?
- Doc Sadler (Southern Miss) (**UPDATE: Sadler has received a contract extension)
- While this season – Sadler’s fourth at USM – was the first in which his team broke ten wins, things are still lukewarm at best. The Golden Eagles finished 16-18 (7-11), but lost by double-digits fourteen times (including Ls to South Alabama, South Dakota, Northern Colorado). This was the fourth straight season with YoY win increases, but at this rate it will be 2020 before Southern Miss is even on the NCAA bubble. USM isn’t a powerhouse program, but most of Sadler’s predecessors have been able to achieve 20-win seasons.