A year ago, no one could have anticipated the rash of firings that occurred in the offseason. Not after a season of uncertainty and daily COVID-19 tests.
But that’s exactly what happened. There were 60 coaching changes, an astounding number given the circumstances. It was inevitable for coaches like Boston College’s Jim Christian, DePaul’s Dave Leitao and Fordham’s Jeff Neubauer, while it was a surprise that Indiana parted ways with Archie Miller and Marquette fired Steve Wojciechowski following a pandemic season.
Now it’s time for the 2021-22 hot seat breakdown, and some of these names are fairly shocking (at least that would have been the case a couple years ago if I had told you they’d eventually be on the list.)
The bottom line is this: These guys all need to win.
Frank Martin, South Carolina
Overall Record: 155-133, 70-89 SEC (9 seasons)
Contract Situation: Received a two-year extension in 2021 through 2024-25.
Martin took the Gamecocks to their first-ever Final Four back in 2017, but that’s the lone NCAA tourney appearance in his tenure. Many felt as though Martin might not make it through this past offseason after a 6-14 record and 4-11 SEC mark, but he wound up getting a two-year extension, with a lower buyout and no raise. Martin’s buyout would not exceed $3 million if he is fired anytime after April.
Tom Crean, Georgia
Overall Record: 41-49, 14-40 SEC (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a six-year contract when he was hired in 2018 that expires in 2023-24.
Crean has finished 13th, 13th and tied for 10th in the SEC in his three years in Athens. He’s also got a new athletic director and is picked to finish dead last in the league this year. He was brought in to upgrade the program after Mark Fox went to two NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons, but it’s only gone down since his arrival — despite the one-year appearance of eventual No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards. If he’s let go after this season, Georgia would owe him $3.2 million.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame
Overall Record: 448-248, 207-159 ACC (21 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed extension in 2018 which expires at end of the 2024-25 season.
First of all, it’ll never get to the point where Brey is actually fired. But if he has another mediocre season (or worse) in South Bend, my guess is this would be it for Brey, meaning the two sides would just agree to amicably part ways. I never anticipated writing Brey’s name on this list, but after a stretch of nine NCAA appearances in 11 years, including a pair of Elite Eights in 2015 and ’16, the Irish have disappeared from national relevance. Brey is 28-46 in ACC play the past four years. He’s incredibly well-liked, but this could be it for Brey if they don’t start winning more games.
Jim Larranaga, Miami
Overall Record: 200-130, 91-90 ACC (10 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed extension in 2018 through the 2023-24 season.
This would obviously be a retirement and not a firing since Larranaga is 72 years old. Larranaga took the ‘Canes to the NCAA tourney four of his first seven seasons, and there were also a pair of NIT appearances over that stretch. The last three seasons have been rough: 39-51 overall and 16-41 in league play. Miami is a tough job, but Larranaga raised the expectations early on and the ‘Canes just haven’t gotten it done on the court lately.
Mike Hopkins, Washington
Overall Record: 68-60, 34-39 Pac-12 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a six-year extension in 2019 through the 2024-25 season.
Here’s another candidate I never would have imagined. Hopkins started off with a 21-win season and then an NCAA tourney appearance in his second season, but the last two have been rough despite NBA talent playing for Washington. If Hopkins is let go after this season, the school would owe him $9.3 million for the final three years on the six-year, $17.5 million contract he inked back in 2019.
Chris Collins, Northwestern
Overall Record: 118-134, 49-100 Big Ten (8 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed an eight-year extension in 2017 that runs through the 2024-25 season.
Collins was the golden child in college hoops back in 2017 when he took the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tourney berth. But it’s since been tough sledding: Just a total of 45 wins and a 19-58 Big Ten mark over the past four seasons, and Collins watched the athletic director who hired him, Jim Phillips, leave for the ACC commish gig. It’s still Northwestern with modest expectations, but Collins needs to take a step forward this season.
Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Overall Record: 170-130, 76-86 Big 12 (9 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a five-year extension in 2018 through the 2022-23 season.
It’s been a career of runs for the 65-year-old Weber in Manhattan. He started with a pair of NCAA tourney appearances, then was mediocre for two seasons before having a three-year run in which he went to the tourney all three years, including an Elite Eight berth in 2018. But the last two seasons have been bad; 20-41 and just seven total league victories. Weber’s buyout drops to $1 million after this season.
Brad Brownell, Clemson
Overall Record: 201-150, 95-99 in ACC (11 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a two-year extension in 2021 through 2025-26.
Brownell has been on and off the hot seat in recent years. He went to the Sweet 16 in 2018 and the NCAA tourney last season, but there was an NIT appearance in ’19 and a 9-11 league mark in ’20. Brownell signed an extension after last season and is extremely well-liked, but it’s still all about the buyout — which is a couple million.
Tim Jankovich, SMU
Overall Record: 101-55, 45-38 AAC (5-plus seasons)
Contract Situation: Under contract through 2021-22.
Jankovich is in the final year of his deal, one that will pay him about $2 million this season. He left a head gig at Illinois State to become the coach-in-waiting when Larry Brown took over SMU. He went 30-5 with a 17-1 league mark in his first full year, then struggled with a 32-33 mark in two seasons from 2017-19, but was 19-11 overall two years ago and made it to the NIT last season.
Brian Gregory, South Florida
Overall Record: 58-66, 23-46 in AAC (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a six-year, $6.58 million contract in 2017 that expires in 2023.
Gregory won the CBI and 24 games his second season with the Bulls, but the other three seasons have resulted in a 33-52 mark and a total of 14 conference wins. Gregory has a year left on his original deal after this season, and it’s a modest buyout of about $150,000, so it’ll depend on how USF fares this season.
Joe Dooley, East Carolina
Overall Record: 29-52, 10-36 in AAC (3 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a five-year deal in 2018 that expires in 2022-23.
This is Dooley’s second stint at ECU, and he’s finished 11th in the AAC in each of his three seasons and has won a total of 10 league games. Dooley has one more year left on his original deal after this season, and he’ll be owed a $250,000 bonus if he is employed beyond July 1, 2022.
Matt McCall, UMass
Overall Record: 46-65, 23-41 in A-10 (4 seasons)
Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2018 through 2022-23.
McCall has made progress in his time in Amherst, but there still hasn’t been a postseason appearance yet. He has had A-10 finishes of 13th, 12th, 8th and 5th, but this will be a pivotal year for McCall and his future with the Minutemen.