Coaches on the Hot Seat

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Coaches on the Hot Seat

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As we get closer to the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season, let’s take a look at the head coaches who need to have a good season in order to feel safe. While the list of coaches on CBT’s “hot seat” have had poor seasons and lost their jobs before, keep in mind that the last two No. 1 selections for this list kept their jobs the following season, including Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who is currently thriving in College Park. 

1. Tom Crean, Indiana: Indiana enters the 2015-16 season with top-25 talent and high expectations, but Crean finds himself atop the hot seat list for failing to meet expectations at Indiana. Crean’s now entering his eighth season as the Indiana head coach, and only once in the previous seven seasons — the 2012-13 season — have the Hoosiers been good enough to be considered a true title contender. That’s not enough, but not only is Crean struggling to find the success the Hoosier fan base craves on the floor, but the dismissal of three more players this offseason hasn’t made life any easier off the floor. Indiana’s president isn’t pleased with the off-the-court developments and many prominent Indiana alums have been vocal about the Hoosiers falling below expectations. A big season would go a long way towards quieting Crean’s doubters.

2. Josh Pastner, Memphis: Much like Crean at Indiana, Pastner has achieved success but faltered compared to a passionate fan base’s expectations. Memphis missed the postseason altogether for the first time in 15 years with last season’s 18-14 record and the team’s best returning player, Austin Nichols, transferred to Virginia, following Nick King and Pookie Powell out the door. Pastner is going to rely heavily on the freshman Lawson brothers to make a postseason appearance immediately, but in a city that became accustomed to the success of John Calipari’s Tigers, will they be satisfied if we’ve already seen Peak Pastner?

3. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech: After a 12-19 season and 14th place finish, Gregory is back for his fifth season at Georgia Tech. He’s never finished above ninth in the ACC. Gregory has coached one team to the NCAA tournament in his last 11 seasons and that came at Dayton in 2010. The local recruiting momentum is also limited for Georgia Tech under Gregory. The Yellow Jackets went 0-for-7 recruiting prospects from Georgia in the Rivals150 in the Class of 2015. In the Class of 2016, that number is 1-for-11.

4. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: Entering his sixth season at Seton Hall, Willard has finished above .500 twice and owns a 30-60 mark in the Big East. Having never made the NCAA tournament as a head coach, the pressure is on Willard to produce even though experienced guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina both transferred out of the program.

5. John Groce, Illinois: Illinois missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and that isn’t sitting well with Illini fans. Groce has never finished above seventh in the Big Ten and he hasn’t been able to reel in a lot of big-named recruits that Illinois finds itself a finalist for. Transfers like Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby haven’t lasted and proved to be harmful as replacements for those missed recruits. Illinois fans expect results and Groce needs to make the NCAAs again.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)
Illinois head coach John Groce (Getty Images)

6. Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois: The once proud Southern Illinois program has had to endure Hinson’s three-year tenure. He’s thrown his own players under the bus during a postgame press conference and publicly remarked about his job security this spring. The Salukis own a 40-57 record and 19-35 mark in conference play under Hinson and he lost five transfers this offseason, three of them freshmen.

7. Donnie Jones, UCF: UCF was successful in Conference USA, but its been a rough back-to-back stretch for the program. Jones has never made the NCAA tournament and his 2010-11 wins were vacated for using ineligible players. Jones was also suspended three CUSA games and the program put on probation. Now he’s 25-36 overall and 9-27 in the American the last two seasons.

8. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: It’s never a good sign when the team’s athletic director and biggest public booster, T. Boone Pickens, publicly have to back Travis Ford, which is precisely what happened in Stillwater this offseason. It’s a far worse sign that Ford owns no NCAA tournament wins since 2009 despite recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart, who both played for multiple seasons.

9. Dave Rice, UNLV: Rice has proven to be a formidable force on the recruiting trail, but that success has yet to translate on the Thomas and Mack Center court, as the Rebs have missed the last two NCAA tournaments. Rice was feeling the heat a little bit this offseason when rumors of Ben Howland looking at UNLV began swirling, but Howland is now at Mississippi State and Rice landed hometown McDonald’s All-American Stephen Zimmerman. Rice still doesn’t own any NCAA tournament wins, and with yet another talented recruiting class, he needs a strong season.

10. Kim Anderson, Missouri: Anderson’s first season at Mizzou was a disaster as the team went 9-23 and 3-15 in the SEC. It’s not looking much better in the future as the Tigers lost some key pieces — namely Jonathan Williams III and Teki Gill-Cesear — to transfer.

2014-15 Season Preview: College Coaches on the Hot Seat

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Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon (Getty Images)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Last season, Rick Barnes headlined our ‘Coaches on the Hot Seat’ list. He then proceeded to advance to the Round of 32 in the in the NCAA tournament, land a top five recruit in McDonald’s All-American Myles Turner and turn Texas into a team that will be ranked in the preseason top ten. His job? It’s now safe.

This year’s list features a couple of other big-name coaches as well as a few experienced guys who simply aren’t living up to the high expectations set on them. Here are our top ten Coaches on the Hot Seat:

1. Mark Turgeon, Maryland: It’s bad enough that Turgeon is without a NCAA Tournament appearance in three seasons at Maryland. Turgeon is 59–43 (.578) overall and 23–29 (.442) in the ACC at Maryland and never finished above 7th in the league. It won’t get much easier in the Big Ten this season, especially after Maryland lost five players to transfer this offseason. Turgeon even blamed himself for the transfers and has to rely on five new players to fill out the rotation.

2. Oliver Purnell, DePaul: Besides coaching 26 years and never winning a NCAA Tournament game, Purnell has struggled to turn around an already horrible situation at DePaul. He has talent in place this season at DePaul, but Purnell needs to win in year five of a seven-year deal. In four seasons, Purnell is 42–77 (.353) overall and 9–57 (.136) in the Big East. DePaul has won no more than three Big East games every season since 2007-08 and badly needs some positive momentum before they enter a new arena in a couple seasons.

3. Donnie Jones, UCF: Jones has a 76–52 overall record at UCF, but he’s 29–37 in conference play and he’s never made the NCAA Tournament. When you also consider his 2010-11 wins were vacated for using ineligible players, and Jones was suspended for the first three Conference USA games and sent a letter of reprimand while the program was put on probation, that’s not a good look. UCF struggled to a 4-14 finish in the AAC last season and didn’t look ready for the jump from Conference USA.

MORE: Best non-conference games | NBCSports.com’s Preseason Top 25 Countdown

4. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech: Since taking the Georgia Tech job, Gregory has a 43–52 (.453) overall record and 16-36 (.308) record in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have never finished above 9th in the league in Gregory’s three seasons.

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Tom Crean (AP Photo)

5. Tom Crean, Indiana: The overall record for Crean at Indiana isn’t all that impressive, but the first three seasons were a rebuilding effort from the Kelvin Sampson sanctions. The Hoosiers made two consecutive Sweet 16s before struggling to go 17-15 last season and missing the NCAA Tournament. If Indiana has another lackluster year, could Crean be gone?

6. Anthony Grant, Alabama: Much like Crean at Indiana, Grant led Alabama to three consecutive postseason appearances — one NCAA Tournament — before a record of 13-19 last season. Grant has never won a NCAA Tournament game at Alabama and the program has lost 14 consecutive road games.

7. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: Seton Hall brings in a good recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American Isaiah Whitehead this season, but can Willard win enough to save his job? He’s 66–65 (.504) overall and 24–48 (.333) in the Big East and has earned just one NIT berth during his tenure in South Orange. As Seton Hall’s head coach, Willard has never finished above 8th in the conference.

8. Steve Lavin, St. John’s: St. John’s made a NCAA Tournament appearance in its first season with Lavin at the helm, but hasn’t reached the Big Dance in three seasons since. Recruiting efforts have also taken a slight dip, as Lavin didn’t land any blue-chippers in 2014 and has yet to land any commitments in 2015.

9. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss: The tenure of Kennedy at Ole Miss is filled with NIT appearances and near-.500 SEC conference records, but a 19-14 season and the loss of four underclassmen last offseason aren’t good signs. Kennedy needs a fast turnaround to the postseason to get his name back in good standing.

10. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State has reached the NCAA Tournament four times under Ford but they’ve been one and done in each appearance, and this year the Cowboys will move forward without Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. Ford needs to make noise in March to make Cowboy fans happy.