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 Tim Miles, Jim Christian and Ernie Kent all survived last season, but are repeat inhabitants. Mark Fox, Jeff Lebo and John Giannani weren’t able to get themselves off the list and were let go this past offseason.
However, it’s not impossible to get off the list. Just look at Clemson’s Brad Brownell, whose future was cloudy a year ago. After a Sweet 16 appearance, Brownell was rewarded with a new six-year, $15 million contract. Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard was on the list a couple years back after failing to get to the NCAA tourney in his first five seasons, but has job security now after three consecutive tournament bids.
Here are 12 coaches who could use a strong season.
Steve Alford, UCLA
Overall Record: 117-57 (5 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2017 thru 2021
The expectations in Westwood are high, and while Alford has taken the Bruins to a trio of Sweet 16s, that just isn’t enough – not for a program that has won a record 11 NCAA titles. Plus, there was the 15-17 campaign in 2015-16, and the First Four appearance this past season. Alford can ill-afford an NIT appearance this season. In fact, he may even need another Sweet 16 berth.
Dave Leitao, DePaul
Overall Record: 29-65 (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a five-year deal when hired in 2015 thru 2020
This is Leitao’s second stint with the school and the three years don’t quite measure up with the results from the first one. From 2002-05, when the program was in Conference USA, Leitao won 58 games and went to an NCAA tourney and a pair of NITs. This time he has won half as many games and has yet to finish higher than ninth in the Big East. The good news for Leitao is that the Big East will take a hit this season. The bad? It doesn’t appear as though DePaul is primed to make a huge jump.
Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Overall Record: 90-78 (5 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2017 thru 2022
It’s been an up-and-down career for Pitino with the Golden Gophers. He won the NIT in his first season, struggled the next two years before going to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-17. Last year, with hefty expectations, Minnesota struggled and went 4-14 in Big Ten play. Pitino can’t have a repeat performance, or anything close to it.
Jim Christian, Boston College
Overall Record: 48-83 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a two-year extension in 2018 thru 2022
The Eagles made a nice jump this past season after three rough seasons to start the Christian Era in Chestnut Hill. BC beat Duke at home and won seven ACC games, which surpassed the grand total from the first three years. However, the key will be whether the Eagles return to irrelevance or find a way to make another NIT berth after losing a lottery pick in Jerome Robinson. Athletic Director Martin Jarmond, who took over in 2017, rewarded Christian with an extension this past offseason through 2022.
Tim Miles, Nebraska
Overall Record: 97-97 (6 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2018 thru 2021
There was some uncertainty regarding whether Miles had done enough to get another year, but AD Bill Moos rewarded him after a 22-win season and an NIT berth. Miles brings most of his team back and has a chance to get back to the NCAA tourney, where he took the Huskers back in 2014. Let’s remember, also: Miles has taken the Cornhuskers to their only NCAA tourney in two decades.
Mark Turgeon, Maryland
Overall Record: 157-81 (7 seasons)
Contract situation: Signed a four-year extension in 2016 thru 2023
The expectations are high in College Park. While Turgeon did take the Terps to the NCAA tourney three consecutive seasons, they only got past the first weekend once – in 2016. Turgeon can’t have another season like this past one, where Maryland went 19-12 overall and 8-10 (eighth place) in the Big Ten. After losing Kevin Huerter early to the NBA, that may be difficult to avoid. You also have to factor in that Maryland has a new athletic director in Damon Evans.
Chris Mullin, St. John’s
Overall Record: 38-60 (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed thru 2020
Mullin was a legendary player whose return was welcomed by the alumni, and he’s brought some talent into the program, but it has yet to result in a postseason appearance. The Red Storm have progressed in their overall win total each year from 8 to 14 to 16, but they only won four Big East games this past season. I’d be shocked if Mullin was fired after this season, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him resign if he can’t get the program back on track – at least to the NIT.
Danny Manning, Wake Forest
Overall Record: 54-72 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2017 thru 2025
Manning was hired to replace Jeff Bzdelik after spending two seasons at Tulsa, and has struggled to get it going for the most part. He has one NCAA Tournament appearance – a First Four berth two years ago – but then took a significant step backwards this past season as the Demon Deacons finished 11-20 overall and 4-14 in the ACC. Then he lost two of his top players – Bryant Crawford and Doral Moore – early to the NBA, and neither were even drafted.
Ernie Kent, Washington State
Overall Record: 47-77 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Rollover enacted in 2017 thru 2022
Eighteen league wins over four seasons isn’t going to cut it, even at a tough spot like Pullman. Kent and the Cougars have had a few moments in his tenure, but they have been mostly irrelevant – both nationally and in the Pac-12. The shocking aspect is that former AD Bill Moos rolled over Kent’s contract in 2017, meaning Kent is under contract through 2022 with each year fully guaranteed at $1.4 million.
Chris Mooney, Richmond
Overall Record: 237-195 (13 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2017 thru 2022
Mooney has gone to two NCAA tourneys and a pair of NITs in his 13 seasons with the Spiders, but he’s coming off a 12-win campaign. There was an NIT appearance two seasons ago, but the bottom line is that Mooney needs to get back on the winning track again, or else he could be in trouble.
Jeff Neubauer, Fordham
Overall Record: 39-52 (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2016 thru 2021
Neubauer started his stint in the Bronx off with promise, going 17-14 overall and winning eight league games in 2015-16. However, the production has regressed the past two seasons; he won 13 games two years ago and finished 9-22 overall and 4-14 in A-10 play this past season. It’s not as if the expectations are high at Fordham these days, but Neubauer needs to take a step back forward or else his days will be numbered.
Mike Dunlap, Loyola Marymount
Overall Record: 48-75 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed an extension thru 2021
Dunlap was ultra-successful at the D-II level at Metro State, then helped Steve Lavin at St. John’s before spending one season as the head coach in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been unable to gain any significant traction at LMU thus far in four years, and was 11-20 overall and 5-13 in the WCC this past season.