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13 College Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2014-15

Anthony Grant

Anthony Grant

The final spot in the 2014-15 coaching carousel was filled Wednesday when Marist hired a new basketball coach.

With that bit of news in mind, let’s start taking a look at the next round of potential coaching changes. Yesterday, Athlon featured 13 coaches who are on the rise. These are the jobs they might fill.

Of course, every coach under pressure can buy time with a nice season.

Just think, at this point last season, every hot seat list started with Texas coach Rick Barnes. A year later, Barnes is still in Austin and his team is a top 10 contender.

But the coaches on this list have put themselves into a perform-or-pack-your-bags situation, starting perhaps as early as this season.

Oliver Purnell, DePaul
Purnell has had a unique career in college basketball, coaching at five spots without an NCAA Tournament win. Yet each of his first four jobs — Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson — were successful. The DePaul job may be the one program he can’t shepherd into the postseason. The Blue Demons are 9-57 in the Big East under his watch, a mark that didn’t improve even in the newer (and weaker) iteration of the league in 2013-14.

Anthony Grant, Alabama
The Crimson Tide have gone 46-38 in the SEC under Grant, but that’s an underwhelming winning record. Alabama has reached the NCAA Tournament only once in five seasons thanks to untimely non-conference losses and few big wins in the SEC. Grant has brought in some decorated recruits during his tenure, but they’ve been more likely to transfer (Devonta Pollard and Trevor Lacey) rather than become major contributors in Tuscaloosa. Grant had three consecutive 20-seasons before dropping to 13-19 last season.

Mark Turgeon, Maryland
If the Terrapins miss the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Maryland will match its longest NCAA drought — five seasons — in more than 40 years. Turgeon, so far, is on the hook for three of those. Turgeon’s 23-29 record in the ACC is of enough concern, but the Terps also have been beset by a handful of personnel losses. Two assistants, three of six signees from the last two years and four scholarship players in the last month have all departed. Moving into the Big Ten might not help.

Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M
The Aggies’ basketball tradition is limited with the exception of the two coaches who preceded Kennedy. Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon led Texas A&M to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Kennedy’s three teams have failed to win 20 games in a season while going 19-31 in conference play in the Big 12 and the SEC. After a signee told’s Gary Parrish that opponents used Kennedy’s early-onset Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis against him in recruiting, Kennedy said in September he remains symptom-free.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Romar is Washington’s most successful coach since Tippy Dye in the 1950s, but the Huskies haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament in three seasons. Granted, Washington won the Pac-12 regular season title in 2012, missing the NCAA Tourney anyway. The 18-18 mark in the league the last two seasons isn’t awful, but Washington may look like it’s standing still as Washington State and Oregon State both changed coaches before the season.

Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys’ version of the Big Three last season — Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash — yielded 21 wins, a first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament and frustrations for most of the Big 12 season. Only Nash will return for 2014-15. Ford’s contract is an albatross, but eventually the middling results might force a change.

Dave Rice, UNLV
The Rice hire was a callback to the Jerry Tarkanian days, but the record (69.3 percent) is almost identical to that of the Lon Kruger era. The numbers aren’t bad as UNLV has reached the NCAA Tournament in two of three seasons under Rice. But the Rebels have recruited at too high a level to be a distant third in the Mountain West. UNLV hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008.

Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has had a winning record in ACC play once since 1995-96, so the bar isn’t exceptionally high. Gregory, 16-26 in the league, hasn’t had the talent predecessor Paul Hewitt did, but it’s time for the Yellow Jackets to start inching toward the .500 mark.

Mike Anderson, Arkansas
Maybe it’s too early to put Anderson on the hot seat — especially after Arkansas posted back-to-back winning records in the SEC for the first time since 1999. Anderson, though, has had teams capable of reaching the NCAA Tournament, but road woes (5-25 under Anderson) have sabotaged each of his three seasons. He’ll have enough returning to his roster to make another run this season.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State
The Sun Devils reached the NCAA Tournament last season, losing in the round of 64 to Texas. That should be a good omen for Sendek, but it’s also only his second NCAA appearance in eight seasons at Arizona State. With Jahii Carson gone, Arizona State could tumble down the Pac-12 standings. Arizona State allowed Sendek to rebuild for five seasons to get back after his first trip to the Tourney. Don’t bank on that kind of patience again.

Steve Lavin, St. John’s
Lavin was in the midst of a contract extension at St. John’s at the end of the season. Even so, the results have flattened since the Red Storm reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season. After returning from prostate cancer treatment in 2012 (he's now cancer-free), Lavin is 18-18 in the Big East in two seasons. The Red Storm  have the roster to make a run at the Tourney in his fifth season. If not, Lavin may be in jeopardy.

Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Willard appeared to have Seton Hall on the right track after going 7-11 and 8-10 in the Big East in his first two seasons. The Pirates have since bottomed out to 9-27 in league play the last two years. Seton Hall hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2006.

Donnie Jones, UCF
Jones was hit with a show-cause and the program faced sanctions stemming from NCAA violations in 2012, but he remained at his post. Two seasons later, UCF is struggling to stay afloat in the American Athletic Conference, going 4-14 in its first season in the league.

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