The hot seat watch in 2016-17 could focus on two conferences in particular.
The Big Ten and SEC both have coaches who need to perform right away. Some are coaches who have exceled at a mid-major level (Mike Anderson at Arkansas, John Groce at Illinois and Pat Chambers at Penn State). Others happen to be at programs that will be lucky to win a half dozen conference games (Kim Anderson at Missouri and Richard Pitino at Minnesota.
Of course the Big Ten and SEC aren’t the only conferences with coaches under pressure. Here are the ones who need to turn their teams’ momentum.
All 2016-17 predictions and a preview of every team and conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
Kim Anderson, Missouri
Anderson inherited a very difficult situation at his alma mater, but there’s no denying that his two seasons at Missouri have been a huge disappointment. The Tigers have won a total of 19 games and have finished last in the SEC both seasons with identical 3–15 records. The program has lacked stability, with the departure of key players after both of Anderson’s two seasons.
Mike Anderson, Arkansas
After reaching the NCAA Tournament six times in a combined nine seasons at UAB and Missouri, Anderson’s relative lack of success — one NCAA appearance in five seasons — has been a big surprise. His record of 102–64 (48–40 SEC) is decent, but there are high expectations at Arkansas. And Anderson is clearly not meeting them.
Brad Brownell, Clemson
Brownell has a reputation as an outstanding coach and has managed a respectable 50–54 record in ACC games at Clemson, but the fact remains that he has missed the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons. It’s difficult for any coach at a power-conference school to survive a drought that long. That streak, however, could end this season; Jaron Blossomgame, one of the ACC’s top players, will headline a team that should have the Tigers in the mix for an upper-division finish in the league.
Pat Chambers, Penn State
Chambers has recruited well in recent seasons, but the Nittany Lions have yet to reach the NCAA Tournament — or finish higher than 10th place in the Big Ten — during his five years at the school. This might not be an NCAAs-or-bust season for Chambers, but his program must show that there is legitimate reason for optimism.
John Groce, Illinois
The Fighting Illini have a 29–43 record in the Big Ten in Groce’s four seasons, with a high-water mark of 9–9 in 2014-15. Last year, Illinois went 5–13 in the league, with four of the wins coming over Rutgers (two) and Minnesota (two). And possibly the most damaging stat for Groce: The Illini have missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons, the school’s longest such stretch since the early days of the Lou Henson era in the late 1970s.
Jeff Lebo, East Carolina
Lebo has been a head coach for 18 straight seasons (at four different schools) yet has never had a team reach the NCAA Tournament. And only twice (at Tennessee Tech in 2002 and Auburn 2009) has his team earned an NIT bid. In his six seasons at East Carolina, the Pirates are 99–100 overall and 37–63 in league games (four in C-USA, two in AAC).
Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Pitino guided Minnesota to the 2014 NIT title in his first season at the school, but the Golden Gophers have slumped to 8–28 in the Big Ten over the past two seasons. Last year’s team finished with a 2–16 record in the league — Minnesota’s worst since 1986-87 — and ended the year ranked 223rd by KenPom.com. In addition, there have been several off-the-court issues that have plagued the program in recent years. Pitino will have to show significant progress in Year 4 to retain his job.
Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Romar guided his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament six times in his first nine seasons on the job. Since 2012, however, Washington is a combined eight games under .500 in the Pac-12 with no NCAA appearances. His recruiting continues to be outstanding, but at some point, results have to matter.
Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Weber, who struggled to stay in the good graces of the Illinois fans during his nine-year run at the school, is no stranger to the hot seat. He began his tenure at Kansas State with two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, though both teams lost in the Round of 64, as a No. 4 seed (2013) and a No. 9 seed (2014). The last two seasons have resulted in league marks of 8–10 and 5–13, respectively. His Big 12 record of 37–35 in four seasons is solid, but the program is trending in the wrong direction.
Steve Alford, UCLA
Orlando Antigua, USF
Jim Christian, Boston College
Ernie Kent, Washington State
Craig Neal, New Mexico
John Thompson III, Georgetown