2018-19 Preseason Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the first Hot Seat Report of the 2018-19. For those that are new to Coaches Database, the Hot Seat Report is an updating list of college basketball head coaches with low job security. Each week, coaches are added/removed/shuffled around based on their performance. A new season is upon us and over the course of the next 5-6 months, a lot of head coaches are going to find themselves out of a job. Throughout the season, the doomed coaches will be organized and re-organized into four categories that correspond with the actual *hotness* of their seat.
For a recap of the coaching changes from last season, check out our 2018 Coaching Carousel page. Once the first head coach gets the heave for 2018-19, a new page will be built!
Note: Coaches in each category below are sorted alphabetically.
YOUR CHAIR IS ON FIRE, SIR
Coaches at the end of the line at their current school. You should be seeing them here soon enough.
- 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, down to just 6 in 2017-18. Brennan just completed the fourth year of the six-year deal he signed after the NCAA appearance, but the Eagles finished dead last in the Patriot League at 3-15.
- Ernie Kent (Washington State)
- 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, finishing 12-19 last year. Again, this is a tough place to win so it is hard to predict the quality of coaches that would be interested in the opening should there be one.
- Dave Leitao (DePaul)
- This was an interesting hire back in 2015: on one hand, DePaul brought 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. Leitao is getting another chance – 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, but the staff did land a verbal commitment from 2019 Top-100 PG Markese Jacobs – from Chicago’s Uplift HS – earlier in October. Big East coaches recently picked DePaul to finish last in their preseason poll.
THIS SEAT IS RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now, but that may not even be enough…
- Greg Lansing (Indiana State)
- Lansing’s tenure in Terre Haute has taken a turn – the Sycamores’ winning percentage declined for three straight years and hardly bounced back this past season (ISU finished 13-18). The last time the program was in the NCAAs was 2011, Lansing’s first season. Last March, the school cancelled the “rollover term” in Lansing’s contract, eliminating what had effectively been an annual, automatic one-year extension. Last season’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. This year’s squad returns just two of their top five scorers, but JR guard Jordan Barnes is (pre-season) All-MVC first team and a serious conference POY candidate.
- 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 a mediocre 125-103 since that S16 appearance. Mooney found himself on the Report for most of last season as the Spiders slogged through a 12-20 campaign, but an average conference season kept him lower on the list. Mooney’s most recent extension has him under contract through 2021-22, but this coming offseason may be the perfect time for new AD John Hardt to replace Mooney with his own guy.
- Jeff Neubauer (Fordham)
- Neubauer left Eastern Kentucky in 2015 after three straight postseason appearances – including the 2014 NCAAs – to take the job at Fordham, and early returns were positive: the Rams won 17 games and went to the 2016 CBI after eight straight seasons at the bottom of the A-10 (with three different head coaches). But in the two years since – with Neubauer now fully in control of building the roster – it’s been back to the conference basement for the Rams, finishing dead last last year with a 9-22 (4-14) final tally. Three of Neubauer’s top five scorers are gone and the incoming recruiting class, while large in size, is nothing special. His predecessor, Tom Pecora, finished in last place four straight years and then third to last in his fifth before he was fired, so as Neubauer enters his fourth season things are at least marginally better than that. Let’s see if he can right the ship in the Bronx.
- Richard Pitino (Minnesota)
- We had Pitino on the Hot Seat for much of the 2016-17 season, but the Gophers finished strong, made the Tournament and Pitino was named conference COY. But then last year, it was off-court issues that landed Pitino back on the list – the complete mishandling of the situation surrounding senior Reggie Lynch’s sexual misconduct allegations, to be exact – and had some calling for his resignation. Adding to the situation was the Gophers’ on-court performance, finishing tied for 11th in the Big Ten and losing 15 of their last 17 games. Any goodwill from getting the program into the Big Dance is long gone, his father is basically banished from college basketball and AD Mark Coyle has already fired two head coaches in his relatively short time on campus. Pitino needs to show serious improvement this coming season – both on and off the court – or it will be his last in the Twin Cities.
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)
- In the first three seasons under Christian, the Eagles won just 6 conference games and sported an ugly 29-67 overall record. But last year, Christian’s squad finished at 19-16 overall, highlighted by signature wins over #1 Duke and #25 Miami at Conte Forum (plus a near-upset at #9 Virginia). The Eagles found themselves back near the bottom of the ACC but a trip to the NIT was the first postseason appearance for BC since 2011. Christian received a 2-year extension after the season, but is by no means on safe ground just yet.
- 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 hometown in 2014 to take over the IUPUI program with just three seasons experience as an assistant – including one with his Wildcats teammate Josh Pastner at Memphis – under his belt. The inexperienced coach was still a logical fit, but 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) last season, the program’s first in the Horizon League.
- Danny Manning (Wake Forest)
- Manning is a college basketball legend and his head coaching career got off to a very hot start at Tulsa. His second Golden Hurricane team won 21 games, captured C-USA regular season and Tournament titles and earned a trip to the field of 64. He left Tulsa for Wake Forest following that season and after two rebuilding years, he took the Deacs to the NCAA First Four in 2017. But last year’s disappointing second-to-last ACC finish has many wondering if the 2016-17 season was just an outlier. Wake lost a lot of players to graduation, transfers and the NBA, but Manning brought in a few graduate transfers to go with the ACC’s fourth best recruiting class. The Demon Deacons may be poised for a breakout season, but another disappointment will light Manning’s seat on fire.
- 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 record was an improvement – the Jaspers were 14-17 (9-9) – but 12 of those wins came against teams below .500.
- Tim Miles (Nebraska)
- It seemed like Nebraska had hit the jackpot in 2014 when second-year coach Miles led the Huskers to the NCAA Tournament and a fourth place finish in the Big Ten. In the three following seasons, Miles’ teams finished below .500 and 11th or 12th in the league. We thought Miles would be fired after the 2016-17 season, but AD Shawn Eichorst was eventually let go. Miles got the opportunity to show his value to new AD Bill Moos and last 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 – a huge improvement in win total – but had to settle for the NIT (and a first round loss). Will Miles be able to build on that success? The 2018 recruiting class was ranked last in the Big Ten by 247, but top scorers James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland return for their RS senior seasons.
- Mark Turgeon (Maryland)
- The Terps have been good under Turgeon – but not great – and that is precisely the reason why he finds himself on this list. 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 – not even in the NIT conversation – and fans are not thrilled. They finished 3rd or better in each of the program’s first three seasons in the Big Ten, but Turgeon has yet to get them through the Sweet Sixteen. At most schools, this wouldn’t be as big an issue. But at Maryland, there are certain on-court expectations that Turgeon has consistently failed to meet.
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)
- Brownell has lived in various sections of this report for every season since 2016. But last year, Brownell brought in a solid recruiting class (plus Michigan grad transfer Mark Donnal) to right the ship and 5-seed Clemson reached the Sweet Sixteen. The Tigers finished with a 23-9 (11-7) record, sporting wins over Ohio State, Louisville and UNC. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Brownell and we expect him to finally fall of this report at some point during the season. Clemson returns a lot of production from last year so we will keep Brownell in our Safe category (for now… you never know… just saying).
- Fran McCaffery (Iowa)
- McCaffery’s tenure in Iowa City has been largely positive, leading the Hawkeyes to three NCAAs and three NITs in eight years. However, the Hawkeyes have not been able to turn the corner and finish any higher than a tie for third in the Big Ten. Now you have to wonder if McCaffery’s best Iowa teams are behind him, with nothing more than a couple Round of 32 appearances to show for it. 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 in 2017-18. Iowa was never a contender in the Big Ten at all and there is growing concern as to whether or not it will be again with the current coaching staff.