No coach wants to find their name here, not on the dreaded Hot Seat. This is where it gets uncomfortable, where there’s pressure to win… or else.
Guys like Danny Manning, Jim Christian, Chris Mooney, Dave Leitao and Jeff Neubauer all survived last season, but are repeat inhabitants. Steve Alford, Tim Miles, Chris Mullin and Ernie Kent weren’t able to get themselves off last year’s list and were let go this past offseason.
We’re not going to place guys like Bill Self, Sean Miller, Bruce Pearl, Andy Enfield and Will Wade on the list. That’s a separate group of coaches who will wait to see how hard they get hit by the NCAA for potential violations before they learn their fate from their respective schools. Winning games will definitely help their case, but the penalties levied by the NCAA could ultimately determine their future.
Here are 10 coaches who could use a strong season — starting with those who are currently sitting in the hottest seats.
Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech
Overall Record: 48-53 (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2017 thru 2022-23
Pastner was a shocking hire by former AD Mike Bobinski and overachieved his first season, winning 21 games and getting the Yellow Jackets to the NIT. However, the last two seasons have totaled 27 wins — six apiece in ACC play — and that’s just not enough for a program that went to 15 NCAA Tournaments from 1985 to 2010 (which marks their last appearance). Toss in the fact that the program got hit with a postseason ban (Pastner was not named in the report) this season by the NCAA, and it doesn’t look promising for Pastner’s future. AD Todd Stansbury didn’t hire Pastner, who has a $7.1 million buyout, and could make a move if there isn’t significant progress this season.
Danny Manning, Wake Forest
Overall Record: 65-93 (5 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2017 thru 2025
Let’s face it: The primary reason why Manning wasn’t let go after last season was due to his contract, and a hefty buyout that’s in the neighborhood of $15 million. He’s got a tough gig, but the expectations are far more than a 24-66 league mark and no ACC finish better than 10th in the conference during his five seasons in Winston-Salem. It seems like an eternity ago that this program was nationally relevant. You’d think the 53-year-old former Kansas star will have to, at the very least, get into the NIT this year to save his job — hefty buyout or not.
Jim Christian, Boston College
Overall Record: 62-100 (5 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a two-year extension in 2018 thru 2021-22
Christian, in all likelihood, needs to reach the NCAA Tournament this season to keep his job, and that appears highly improbable after losing Ky Bowman early to the NBA and Wynston Tabbs for this season due to injury. Christian is 18-72 in league play in his tenure in Chestnut Hill and his lone postseason appearance came in the NIT two years ago with lottery pick Jerome Robinson and Bowman. This isn’t an easy job, but Al Skinner proved that you can win at BC, going to seven NCAA Tournaments during his time in charge. AD Martin Jarmond, who didn’t hire Christian, rewarded him with an extension in 2018, but Jarmond’s patience could run out if he doesn’t see progress.
Jeff Neubauer, Fordham
Overall Record: 51-75 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2016 thru 2021
The Neubauer era began in Rose Hill with so much promise, a 17-14 mark and a CIT appearance in Year 1. But it’s been downhill ever since — and the last two seasons have resulted in a total of seven league victories and a pair of 14th-place finishes (there are only 14 teams in the league). After a pair of assistants bolted, it doesn’t look promising in the Bronx, and it’s likely just a matter of time until the conclusion of the Neubauer regime.
Frank Haith, Tulsa
Overall Record: 95-66 (5 seasons)
Contract Situation: 2014 thru 2019-20
Haith’s overall record and his AAC mark (54-36) are solid, but the last three years have been a significant drop, especially for a program that has plenty of tradition. There hasn’t been a postseason appearance in the last three years — and just a 28-26 record in league play. Haith’s deal runs out this year, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see AD Derrick Gragg make a move. In fact, it might be a bigger shock to see Haith still employed after this season.
Shaka Smart, Texas
Overall Record: 71-66 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed an extension in 2016 through 2022-23
Rick Barnes was run out of Austin after reaching 16 NCAA Tournaments in 17 seasons and his replacement, Smart, has gone to two in four years with no tourney wins since being hired. The last three seasons have resulted in a pair of sixth-place finishes and a 10th-place finish in the Big 12. Smart’s league mark is 31-41, which is just not enough for a guy that was brought in to take Texas past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. AD Chris Del Conte didn’t hire Smart, and he’ll likely make a move unless Smart can get the Longhorns to the NCAA tourney this year — which doesn’t seem likely. The only other thing that could save Smart is a $13 million buyout.
Tim Jankovich, SMU
Overall Record: 71-38 (3-plus seasons)
Contract Situation: 2016 thru 2021
Jankovich left a head gig at Illinois State to become the coach-in-waiting when Larry Brown took over SMU. He was a part of the rebuilding process, and went 30-5 with a 17-1 league mark in his first full year after Brown departed in 2016. However, the last two seasons have been sub-par: a 32-33 overall mark, six AAC victories each year and a pair of ninth-place conference finishes. Some sort of postseason berth is likely necessary for Jankovich to be able to breathe a little easier.
Chris Mooney, Richmond
Overall Record: 250-215 (14 seasons)
Contract Situation: 2017 thru 2021-22
Mooney led the Spiders to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011, and the NIT in 2015 and 2017. However, the last two years have been rough: a total of 25 wins and a 15-21 record in league play. Mooney makes a little more than $1 million per year, and will need to show progress or else this could be it for him. That being said, his team is certainly capable of moving into the top tier of the A-10.
Dave Leitao, DePaul
Overall Record: 48-82 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a five-year deal when hired in 2015 that runs thru 2020
The good news? Leitao led DePaul to its first winning season since 2007 with a 19-17 campaign and a CBI berth last season, and he’s also got AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto in his corner. The bad? It was still just the CBI, and he also got hit with a three-game suspension for not preventing violations from occurring in the program. Leitao, 59, is 16-66 in league play in his second stint at the school, and DePaul has yet to crack the top seven in the league in any of those four years.
Pat Chambers, Penn State
Overall Record: 127-140 (8 seasons)
Contract Situation: 2018 signed an extension thru 2021-22
Chambers returns to our list after a year off. He was given an extension after the team’s NIT appearance in 2018, but he hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament in eight years on the job. That’s beyond rare for a high-major program. Chambers has had support from AD Sandy Barbour, but he can ill afford another year without any postseason berth this season. He does have a team capable of getting to the tourney this year, one led by All-American candidate Lamar Stevens.