2020-21 Preseason Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the first Hot Seat Report of the 2020-21 season! If you 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.
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 the 2020 Coaching Carousel. There are a few interim coaches on this year’s version, but keep it bookmarked as more jobs open up throughout the season.
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.
- Jim Christian (Boston College)
- The Eagles have sported an ugly 25-85 ACC record in six seasons under Christian and the high point of his tenure was a first-round NIT exit back in 2018 (BC hasn’t been to the NCAAs since 2009). Christian’s team lost three of its top four scorers from last year and he is bringing in the second-lowest rated recruiting class in the ACC, so his work is cut out for him. The COVID-19 pandemic likely saved Christian’s job last year, as so few schools elected to fire head coaches, but it seems pretty inevitable that 2020-21 will be Christian’s last at BC.
- Dave Leitao (DePaul)
- Leitao had an ally in former AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto, who gave him a contract extension in April on her way out the door despite his 19-71 Big East record over the last five years and NCAA suspension for rules violations just last season (the program is still on probation, by the way). DeWayne Peevy is the new AD, starting in September after after 12 years at Kentucky. Leitao’s contract has no buyout, so it will be pretty easy for Peevy to make the move and bring in his own guy if the Blue Demons have another rough season.
- Donyell Marshall (Central Connecticut)
- CCSU made a splash in 2016 when it hired Marshall, a long-time NBA player and former UConn star, to lead the Blue Devils’ program. Unfortunately, the buzz did not translate to wins and Marshall finds himself 53 (!!) games below .500 through his first four years. Last year’s team was just 4-27 (3-15) and finished at #347 (out of 353) in KenPom. There was also that suspension handed to Marshall back in 2017 when the school was investigating a “personnel issue” between he and an assistant. We respect the splashy hire, but it’s time to move on.
- Jeff Neubauer (Fordham)
- We wrote one year ago that Fordham keeping Neubauer was one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 offseason, and alas, here we are again. Neubauer has seemingly done nothing to prove that he can be successful at Fordham but AD David Roach continues to hold out hope. In his first year, Neubauer led the Rams to 17 wins and a CBI in berth but in the four years since the Rams have gone right back to the A-10 basement. Neubauer added two former head coaches (Anthony Evans and Dennis Felton) to his staff last year but the Rams ended up losing even more games than in the year prior.
- Richard Pitino (Minnesota)
- Pitino is another guy we think would have gotten fired if we had a normal 2020 offseason. On the hot seat for years, Pitino’s Gophers regressed again from their NCAA Tournament berth in 2019 to finishing below .500 overall and 12th in the Big Ten last year. Pitino is playing the transfer market, trying to bolster the 9th best recruiting class in the Big Ten with several players from other programs, but he lost a number of last year’s rotation guys including star Daniel Oturu (NBA Draft) and Payton Willis (transfer). Getting this team back to the Tournament seems like a tall order, but one other thing Pitino could do to save his job is to land prized 2021 recruit Chet Holmgren. The 7-foot center is a consensus top 2 recruit from Minneapolis and is considering the Gophers alongside Gonzaga and Michigan.
THIS SEAT IS RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now, but that may not even be enough…
- Tim Jankovich (SMU)
- After going 9-0 during Larry Brown‘s suspension in 2016 and 30-5 in his first full season at the helm, things were looking great for Jankovich at SMU. But as Brown’s players filtered out, the tide quickly turned to mediocrity. The Mustangs improved slightly last year (19-11 overall) but the stadium was empty for home games (pre-COVID!) as fans have lost interest in SMU basketball. There doesn’t seem to be much on the horizon either, as recruiting has been middle-of-the-road (at best) by AAC standards. He’s reportedly only under contract through this year and it would be tough to justify extending that deal right now.
- Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech)
- This one felt almost inevitable a year ago, as Pastner’s tenure at Tech has been a mess both on and off the court, and things really haven’t changed much. The Yellow Jackets have finished below .500 in two of four seasons under Pastner and the coach is dealing with sanctions from NCAA violations committed by one of his former assistants. Rebuilding the program will be even harder thanks to scholarship reductions, a postseason ban and recruiting limitations handed down by the NCAA. While Pastner was not directly charged with anything, it seems like Georgia Tech could make a change with cause and avoid having to pay some or all of the hefty buyout. We see schools turn a blind eye to these things all of the time, but AD Todd Stansbury was not the one who hired Pastner and the lack of success doesn’t bode well.
- Dave Paulsen (George Mason)
- George Mason is no longer the perennial postseason squad and NCAA Cinderella it was just a decade ago. Ever since Jim Larrañaga left, the Patriots have become an also-ran struggling to regain relevance in a competitive A-10. Paulsen came on in 2015 and has done nothing to move the needle. The highlight was the 2017 squad that won 20 games and went to CBI, but this is a program that went to five NCAAs and three NITs from 1997-2011. His fifth-year team was his worst yet, finishing near the bottom of the A-10 at 5-13 (17-15 overall), bringing Paulsen to a 82-82 overall at GMU (39-51 in conference).
- Terry Porter (Portland)
- Since taking over in 2016, Porter’s teams have yet to win more than 11 games in a season (the Pilots won just 9 games last year). The hire was an interesting one, as Porter had never coached in college but brought NBA playing and coaching experience to the table. Most teams in the WCC have a really tough time competing or building any significant national attention, so we don’t fault Portland at all for the flashy hire. The problem is that the team still can’t win. Porter’s predecessor Eric Reveno got ten years, but he also won 19+ games in years 3-5.
- Shaka Smart (Texas)
- Smart was the most coveted head coaching prospect for years as he took VCU to five straight NCAA Tournaments (starting with the famous 2011 Final Four run). When he finally made the leap in 2015, the consensus was that Texas had a grand slam hire. But five years in, Shaka is ten games under .500 in Big 12 play with just two first-round NCAA exits and a NIT title to show for. He is recruiting at a high-level, but the magic he had at VCU just has not translated to Austin. Shaka’s buyout was $13 million buyout last year but by the end of this season will be down to $7 million. Still a ton of money, but certainly more manageable if things don’t turn around. His predecessor, Rick Barnes, went to 16 NCAA Tournaments in 17 seasons, but got fired after failing to get past the first weekend eight-straight years. Shaka’s teams fall well short of those expectations, so it is hard to picture him getting more than one more season to turn a corner.
WE’VE GOT OUR 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.
- Brad Brownell (Clemson)
- We have been up and down with Brownell, which is pretty much how his tenure at Clemson has gone since he was hired in 2010. Two NCAA Tournaments and three NITs balanced by five seasons below or just barely above .500. The Tigers came into last season riding back-to-back 20+ win seasons for the first time under Brownell, but returned to the bottom half of the conference standings at 9-11 (16-15 overall). Brownell is perpetually on the hot seat but continues to get votes of confidence from administration, the latest being an extension through 2024.
- Greg Lansing (Indiana State)
- Lansing’s tenure in Terre Haute had been on a downward trajectory for several years and the coach has been a regular on this list but last year’s team showed improvement, going 18-12 (11-7, tied for 3rd in the MVC). Back in March 2017, Indiana State cancelled the “rollover term” in Lansing’s contract – eliminating what had been an automatic annual one-year extension – but have not cut ties with him yet. This is a program that won 23 games back in 2014 with Lansing at the helm, but has been mediocre at best in the years since. The Sycamores return four of their five top scorers but Lansing’s contract is only financially guaranteed through 2021, so he will definitely be coaching for his job this season.
- Mark Turgeon (Maryland)
- The Terps have been good under Turgeon – but not great – and that is precisely the reason why he continues to land on our 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. Last year’s Terps finally got over the hump, limping to the Big Ten finish line to hang on to a share of the regular season title, but Anthony Cowan (graduated) and Jalen Smith (NBA) are gone and this year’s team is going to look a lot different. Turgeon certainly silenced some critics, but we will never know what last year’s team was capable of in the NCAA Tournament. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing for their head coach.