College Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat Heading Into the 2020-21 Season

    The list you don't want to be on...

    November 3, 2020

    It’s that time of the year, when I release the names of those who need to win this season, or else…

    Obviously, we’re in a different time these days, so much of it depends on the financial aspect and whether or not certain schools can even make a move if the coaches are owed a significant chunk of change.

    But the bottom line is that these guys all need to either win — or those who are in the midst of investigations need to hope their punishment isn’t heavy enough to warrant a dismissal.

    [MORE: Jeff Goodman’s 2020-21 College Basketball Preseason Awards]

    On the Hot Seat

    Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
    Overall Record: 331-121 (13 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Has a 7-year rolling contract

    Marshall isn’t on here for his performance; he’s on this list because of numerous allegations from former players regarding mistreatment, including an accusation that he punched Shaq Morris back in 2015. There’s been an ongoing internal investigation by Wichita State and his future is certainly in jeopardy right now pending the outcome of the investigation. The big question is whether he is fired or just suspended, and that could also be impacted by whether or not the school’s legal counsel is confident it won’t have to pay the remainder of his contact if they make a move.

    Shaka Smart, Texas
    Overall Record: 90-78 (5 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed an extension in 2016 through 2022-23

    Smart’s Longhorns squad was on the bubble last season going into the Big 12 Tournament, but that’s not good enough for UT fans. He’s been to two tournaments since arriving in Austin five years ago, but they squeaked in both times. This year is a critical one for Smart because he’s got everyone back and also added a top recruit in Greg Brown. The expectations are high, and rightfully so. Smart’s buyout after the season falls to around $7 million.

    Richard Pitino, Minnesota
    Overall Record: 127-108 (7 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a two-year extension in 2019 through 2024

    It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Pitino and the Gophers over the last four years. After going to the NCAA tourney in 2017, Minnesota was 15-17 and 4-14 in league play in 2018. Then they went to the tourney again in 2019 before a 15-16 campaign and an 8-12 mark in Big Ten play this past season. Pitino has finished in the top six in the Big Ten just once in his seven seasons in the league. His buyout is $1.75 million.

    Jim Christian, Boston College
    Overall Record: 75-119 (6 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a two-year extension in 2018 through 2021-22

    Christian’s job was likely saved for another year due to COVID-19. BC was 13-19 last season, and he’s now on his third athletic director since being hired. The Eagles are 25-85 in league play under Christian and their lone postseason appearance was an NIT berth in 2018. It’s obviously not an easy job, but Al Skinner proved it can be done with seven NCAA tourney appearances in his tenure. It’ll be an uphill climb for Christian to save his job this season.

    Dave Leitao, DePaul
    Overall Record: 61-98 (5 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a four-year deal in 2020 through 2024

    It looked so promising during non-conference play last season, but then DePaul turned back into, well, DePaul and went 3-15 in Big East play. The good news was that Leitao received a contract extension before Jean Lenti Ponsetto retired, but the bad news for Leitao is that there’s no buyout. There’s also a new sheriff in town with the addition of new AD DeWayne Peevy — who won’t have near the amount of patience that Ponsetto did. Leitao is 19-71 in league play in his second stint as the head coach at the school, and he will likely be replaced if there isn’t plenty of improvement this year.

    Jeff Neubauer, Fordham
    Overall Record: 60-97 (5 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a deal in 2016 through 2021

    Nobody, including Jeff Neubauer, anticipated that he’d be coaching the Rams again to start this season. The Neubauer Era began with a 17-14 campaign in 2015-16, and has gone downhill ever since. Neubauer was another one that likely got another year due to the virus, especially after winning just nine games last season and going 2-16 in league play. Neubauer’s athletic director, David Roach, retired this past June, so that won’t help matters for Neubauer’s future in the Bronx. Plus, his contract expires at the end of this coming season.

    Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech
    Overall Record: 65-67 (4 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a one-year extension in 2017 through 2022-23

    Pastner enters his fifth season with the Yellow Jackets still searching for his first NCAA Tournament appearance, and he does so with a team fully capable of reaching the Big Dance. Georgia Tech went to 15 NCAA Tournaments from 1985 to 2010, so there’s certainly some tradition — just not much in the past decade. Current AD Todd Stansbury didn’t hire Pastner, but has stuck by him thus far. Pastner’s buyout is in the $3 million range after this season.

    Tim Jankovich, SMU
    Overall Record: 90-49 (4-plus seasons)
    Contract Situation: 2016 through 2021

    Jankovich left the 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. He struggled with a 32-33 mark in two seasons from 2017-19, but was 19-11 overall last season and 9-9 in league play.

    Brad Brownell, Clemson
    Overall Record: 185-142 (10 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a six-year, $15 million contract in 2018 that runs through 2024

    Brownell has been on and off the hot seat in recent years. He went to the Sweet 16 in 2018 — which earned him an extension — but there was a semi-disappointing NIT appearance in 2019 and a 16-15 campaign last year. Brownell is well liked and doesn’t make waves in the football-crazed area, but the question is whether AD Dan Radakovich wants more than two NCAA Tournament appearances in 10 seasons. Brownell is owed about $1 million per season and has three years remaining on his deal after this year.

    Paul Weir, New Mexico
    Overall Record: 52-47 (3 seasons)
    Contract Situation: Signed a six-year contract in 2017 that runs through 2023

    Weir enters his fourth season with the Lobos without a postseason appearance, and that’s not nearly enough for the rabid fan base. UNM is 14-22 in league play over the last two seasons, and there have also been multiple off-the-court issues with both players and even staff members. The only thing saving Weir is money at this point, and he’s owed about $750K after this coming season.

    Watch Out for the NCAA

    All of the following coaches are in the crosshairs of NCAA investigations — most of them regarding the massive federal inquiry that began more than three years ago. Some might survive, but it’ll depend on the severity of the punishment and whether their administration backs them.

    • Sean Miller, Arizona
    • Bill Self, Kansas
    • Will Wade, LSU
    • Bruce Pearl, Auburn
    • Andy Enfield, USC
    • Mark Gottfried, Cal State Northridge (from his time at NC State)
    • Penny Hardaway, Memphis (unrelated to the major federal investigation)

    Retirement Possibilities

    Jim Larranaga, Miami | He just turned 71 and the Hurricanes have struggled the last couple of years, going 29-34 overall and 12-26 in ACC play. He has raised the expectations with the program, and Miami has a chance to get back to the NCAA tourney this season, but it’s still safe to wonder how many years he has left before retirement.

    Lon Kruger, Oklahoma | There has been speculation regarding when Kruger, who has done a terrific job in Norman since arriving in 2011, will step down. Kruger’s Sooners have consistently reached the NCAA Tournament, but he turns 69 next August.

    MORE: College Basketball’s 2020-21 Transfer List


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