The 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball season is (hopefully) on the horizon and for some coaches, the pressure we really start to build. It’s not an easy life being the coach of a college basketball team with the pressure to improve both on and off the court. It may often be the fault of the players when teams have a poor season, but it is often the coach who pays the price by being removed from his job. No wonder the job of being a coach is often described as being in “the hot seat.” So who are the coaches under the most pressure as next season nears?
Don’t be too surprised if there is a new coach at Boston College some time this season. Jim Christian struggled early on, but his 2018 team seemed to turn things around, winning 19 games. But the following year, the Eagles were going downhill again. They finished tenth in the ACC standings, winning just 14 games and seeing their home record drop to 12-9 after having been 15-4 the previous year. The Eagles ended their 2019-20 campaign with a dismal run of four-straight losses. More performances like the 73-47 home loss to NC State last March could very well lead to Christian’s ouster.
Not every coach is under the pressure of losing their job. If you are looking at placing a bet on who is going to win the 2020-21 NCAA Championship, there are plenty of online sportsbooks that offer odds on this competition. Looking at one of the best sports betting sites for available odds, the current favorites are Scott Drew‘s Baylor Bears and Mark Few‘s Gonzaga Bulldogs.
But let’s get back to the coaches whose teams don’t exactly look like they will be big winners next season…
-Former NBA player Donyell Marshall is feeling the heat at Central Connecticut. His team has struggled ever since he took over in 2016, with a 4-27 record last year (good for 347 in the final KenPom ratings), he is in significant danger of losing his job.
-Another coach hoping to stay in their job a bit longer is Jeff Neubauer at Fordham. He’s been on the hot seat for several years already, but will this be the season he finally get his team going? There’s plenty of work to be done after a dreadful Atlantic 10 showing last year. Fordham hasn’t seen success in quite some time; Neubauer’s predecessor, Tom Pecora, slogged through five brutal seasons before being let go in 2015. Some faith has been shown in Neubauer, but a poor start and signs of another rough season may well change that opinion.
-Getting out to a successful start as a head coach is exactly what administrators and fans are hoping for in college basketball, but the tides can change just as quickly if that success is not sustained. That’s the situation for Tim Jankovich at SMU. A 30-5 record in his first full season in 2017 (with Larry Brown’s players) kept the momentum going, but the Mustangs have struggled in the AAC for the last three seasons. Recruiting is another crucial factor when it comes to job security in college basketball and things are not great on that front for Jankovich, either. Coach has a contract that takes him through the end of next year and another lackluster season should keep the school from offering an extension.
-Up at Minnesota, head coach Richard Pitino is squarely back on the hot seat as his Gophers have looked anything but “golden.” He’s on a long contract, but anyone who follows college sports knows that schools are often willing to pay up to make a change. Pitino is another coach who started well with a NIT title in his first season but since then has tended to do just well enough to keep the wolves from his door. If he fails to do that this season, then it may well be time for a change.
A long season lies ahead of us and hopefully one without disruptions. Who’d be a coach when there is so much pressure attached to the job? Those mentioned in this article will hope this won’t be their last in charge of their teams.