2021-22 Preseason Hot Seat Report
Welcome to the first Hot Seat Report of the 2021-22 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 circumstances and performance.
Throughout the season, the potentially (or inevitably) doomed head coaches are placed into four categories that correspond with the actual *hotness* of their seat. Note: Coaches in each category are sorted alphabetically.
For a recap of the coaching changes from last season, check out the 2021 Coaching Carousel. There’s only one (albeit HUGE) pending change thus far on this year’s version, but keep it bookmarked as jobs open up throughout the season.
YOUR CHAIR IS ON FIRE, SIR
Coaches at the end of the line at their current school.
- Mike Brey (Notre Dame)
- With two losing seasons in the last three years and no NCAA Tournament since 2017, fans have grown restless of their longtime head coach. Brey has been at Notre Dame since 2000 and his overall accomplishments are undeniable. But his back-to-back Elite Eights feel like a lifetime ago and it really feels like it’s time for a change. Last year’s team went 11-15 and recent recruiting classes have ranked among the worst in the ACC. Basketball pales in comparison to football in South Bend but this is still a really great job that coaches across the country will line up for when it does become available.
- Tom Crean (Georgia)
- The red flags have been piling up in Athens over the last year, namely from the mass exodus this offseason that included the six leading scorers among eight Bulldogs leaving the program. Crean finished 13th in the SEC with #1 overall pick Anthony Edwards on the team and then “improved” last year to finish 10th at 14-12 (7-11). Recruiting, which has always been a calling card for Crean in his career, has also fallen off: last year’s class was good but two freshmen are now gone, and this year’s class ranks 11th in the SEC (59th nationally). Crean had to fill out his roster with transfers and while there are some promising names in the bunch, the Bulldogs are basically a brand new team that SEC media projects to finish dead last. He’s got two years left on his deal, but UGA would only be on the hook for $1.6M (just half of Crean’s yearly salary) if they were to fire him after this season
- Joe Dooley (East Carolina)
- Dooley returned to ECU for a second stint as head coach in 2018 after five successful years at Florida Gulf Coast. However, things have gone worse than they did the first time he was with the Pirates, when he was fired after four seasons with no postseason appearances. This is now year four again (eight overall) and Dooley is just 29-52 (10-36) this time around, with just two years left on a deal that is paying him close to $1M/yr despite three-straight 11th place AAC finishes.
- Matt McCall (UMass)
- An up-and-coming mid-major coach, McCall burst onto the scene by building off of Will Wade‘s success in winning the SoCon and reaching the NCAA Tournament in his first year at Chattanooga. The success waned a bit the following season, but that short tenure was enough to land the bigger job at UMass. Now entering his fifth season with the Minutemen, McCall has just one winning season (if you can even call it that, going 8-7 last year) and is consistently at the bottom of the A-10 standings. He’s in the second-to-last year of his current deal, a five-year contract that was extended to six in 2018, with what is likely a minimal buyout (initial contract called for 50% of remaining deal).
- Bruce Weber (Kansas State)
- Winning a share of the Big 12 title in year one was an anomaly for Weber until 2019, when the Wildcats finally ended rival Kansas‘ title streak and won the thing outright. The party was short-lived, however, as Weber’s crew regressed to 11-21 last season and are playing some of the worst basketball of any Power 5 program this year. Now in his tenth year at K-State, Weber is only under contract through 2022-23 and his buyout is down to $1M, so the cost to K-State is minimal by today’s standards.
THIS SEAT IS RATHER WARM
These coaches need to start winning right now, but that may not even be enough…
- Chris Collins (Northwestern)
- While Collins will be forever remembered in Evanston for leading Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2017, that success is nothing but a distant memory. The regression has been stark and rapid, with the Wildcats finishing 10th or worse in the Big Ten every year since. There are few major programs with a history as uneventful as Northwestern’s and now that the folksy NCAA streak is over, the Wildcats are just another bad power conference team. Bill Carmody got 13 years without an NCAA bid, but times have changed. Collins proved that Northwestern really can go dancing, ironically changing the perception of the job for coaches across the country now more interested in replacing him.
- Bobby Hurley (Arizona State)
- A splashy hire in 2015, Hurley was lured away from the East Coast for the first time in his coaching career after two successful seasons at Buffalo. The talent level has been strong, headlined by Remy Martin (now at Kansas) and Lu Dort (now in the NBA), but the Sun Devils have consistently underachieved under Hurley. Last year’s squad went 11-14 (7-10) despite having the 8th best recruiting class in the country featuring consensus top-30 talents in Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley. Hurley’s deal now runs through 2023-24 after an extension two years ago and he is making a lot of money to consistently miss or early exit from the NCAAs. Hurley has to get ASU over the hump this year if he wants to keep his job.
- Tim Jankovich (SMU)
- After going 39-5 in his first season and a half at the helm, things were looking great for Jankovich at SMU. But as Larry Brown’s players filtered out, the tide quickly turned to mediocrity. The Mustangs have improved a bit in the last two years (19-11 and 11-6, respectively) but the stadium was empty for home games (pre-COVID) as fans have completely lost interest in SMU basketball. This year’s team is green, with massive turnover and the second-best recruiting class in the AAC (33rd nationally), so we may see some steps back before the program makes any more strides. Will Jankovich be around to see that happen?
- Jim Larrañaga (Miami FL)
- Now 72 years old, Larrañaga’s contributions to both Miami and the larger college basketball world are undeniable. But after three-straight losing seasons and 0 NCAA Tournament wins since the 2016 Sweet Sixteen run, it’s time for Coach to call it a career. He’s under contract through 2024 (buyout details not public) but the game has changed and the best move now for both parties is for Larrañaga to step down on his own terms so Miami can bring in a younger coach to build this program for the future.
- Chris Mooney (Richmond)
- It seemed like Mooney finally had some job security after the 2019-20 season, where the Spiders won 24 games and likely would have been NCAA Tournament bound. But with high expectations last year and a fast start that included an impressive win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena, the team fell flat and finished 8th in the A-10. Expectations are high again this year with so many guys coming back, so if Mooney can’t get back to the NCAA Tournament this year (the second-to-last of his current deal) he is as good as done.
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.
- Brian Gregory (South Florida)
- The Bulls just wrapped their third losing season in four years under Gregory, though the one winning campaign featured a CBI title (2019). South Florida has been to the NCAA Tournament just three times ever – the most recent being in 2012 – and as a member of AAC struggles to compete with the more established power conference programs across the state, so the difficulty of this job does not go unnoticed. Gregory has landed a couple strong recruits but has had to rely on transfers the last several years to bolster his roster. This year’s squad will feature a ton of new faces, as 10 (!!!!) players transferred out of the program and only 2 (!!!) current players averaged more than 5.0 ppg last year. It will be quite the test for Gregory, who is in the fifth year of a six-year deal with a very affordable ~$150k buyout.
- Matt Lottich (Valparaiso)
- Five years ago, Lottich became the first Valpo head coach since 1988 from outside the Drew family and early results were strong. After winning the 2017 Horizon title, the program moved to the Missouri Valley and has finished above .500 just once. Mid-majors are held to different standards but Valpo is different, with a strong track record that includes nine NCAA Tournament bids since 1996. Lottich’s team features a new nickname (the Beacons!), a lot of new faces – including four transfers from the Big Ten – and last year’s leading scorer Ben Krikke.
- Frank Martin (South Carolina)
- Martin was atop the basketball world in 2017, having led 7-seed South Carolina to its first-ever NCAA Final Four. It was an incredible coaching job that capped off a second-straight 25+ win season and all was well in Gamecock Country. But the tides have turned and Martin’s group is coming off an embarrassing 12th place finish in which they won just 4 of 16 SEC games. Seven players transferred out (plus one turned pro) and the roster will feature a whopping 10 new names this year (six transfers + four freshmen). Why isn’t Martin higher on this list? He received a two-year extension this summer that has him under contract through 2024-25 and features a buyout if he’s fired before the end of the 2022-23 season.