College Basketball Hot Seat: High-Major Coaches on the Hot Seat

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Washington head coach Mike Hopkins reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
Andrew Doughty @DoughtyBetMGM Nov 30, 2022, 3:11 PM
  • Hot seat coaches and one potential replacement for each.
  • Mike Hopkins somehow survived the 2020-21 season.
  • How does Patrick Ewing have a job?

The college basketball coaching carousel spun slowly in 2020 as schools grappled with escalating financial concerns in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one high-major program and 28 total programs entered the 2020-21 season with first-year head coaches.

One year later, the carousel returned to its traditionally unforgiving and ferocious pace; 56 teams had a first-year coach in 2021-22, including 11 high-majors.

It didn’t slow down in 2022 – 58 total changes, including 14 at high-majors – and there are no indications it will again in 2023.

Here’s the updated college basketball hot seat for high-major programs this season:

Jeff Capel – Pittsburgh

Despite his 2018 departure for Pittsburgh, Jeff Capel was reportedly in consideration to be Coach K’s successor at Duke before the Blue Devils settled on Jon Scheyer.

But maybe if Capel keeps losing at a staggering rate – only 21 wins in 74 conference games and two blowout non-conference losses in this season’s first three games – he’ll be back in Durham on Scheyer’s bench.

Replacement: Brandin Knight, Rutgers assistant coach

Chris Collins – Northwestern

Northwestern athletics director Derrick Gragg told Chris Collins to make changes for immediate success. And then Gragg told everyone he told Collins to make changes for immediate success.

That can’t be great for Collins’ job security as he looks to avoid a sixth straight losing season in Evanston. A 29-point late-November home loss to Pittsburgh doesn’t inspire much confidence he can do so.

Replacement: Casey Alexander, Belmont head coach

Patrick Ewing – Georgetown

It took no time for Patrick Ewing to prove last year’s five-win dud was an aberration by knocking off MEAC power Coppin State in overtime in the 2022-23 season opener. Then the Hoyas got blasted by Loyola Marymount and lost to American in a span of six days.

There’s no coherent explanation for Ewing’s continued employment.

Replacement: James Jones, Yale head coach

Mark Fox – Cal

Mark Fox has contained the dumpster fire inherited by Wyking Jones but can’t figure out how to extinguish it. 

After an optimism-generating 7-11 conference record in his first season (2019-20), Fox and the Golden Bears flopped with eight total Pac-12 wins the last two seasons. And if this year’s ugly non-conference start – seven straight losses, including one to a bottom-half Big West team, UC San Diego – is any indication, Fox’s fourth season won’t be any better.

Replacement: Travis DeCuire, Montana head coach

Jerod Haase – Stanford

When Jerod Haase parlayed success at UAB into the Stanford job, I wondered if the former Kansas guard could be a future candidate at his alma mater if Bill Self ever bolted for the NBA or retired at a young age.

Not anymore.

Haase has zero tourney appearances in seven seasons – including this year because Stanford won’t hear its name called on Selection Sunday – and has won 20 games only once. And barring a dramatic midseason turnaround after a 3-4 start, they won’t win 20 games this season.

Replacement: Mark Madsen, Utah Valley head coach.

Fred Hoiberg – Nebraska

Fred Hoiberg didn’t inherit a mess when he arrived in Lincoln with much fanfare in 2019. But the former Iowa State has created a mess in just four years.

Nebraska can’t win, isn’t developing highly-rated recruits, and isn’t hitting on transfers. And with an amended contract that reduced his salary and buyout, Hoiberg might be gone soon.

The Huskers lost three games by at least 12 points apiece in the season’s first three weeks, including a 20-point embarrassment at Saint John’s.

Replacement: Darian DeVries, Drake head coach

Mike Hopkins – Washington

Mike Hopkins miraculously survived a five-win 2020-21 season – likely thanks to a fully guaranteed contract through 2024-25 that would’ve included an eight-figure buyout at the time – and rebounded with 11 conference wins last year, the programs’ second-most conference wins in the last decade.

But then Washington lost to Cal Baptist this season … and needed second-half comebacks to beat Utah Tech and North Florida. 

Replacement: Mark Pope, BYU head coach

Bobby Hurley – Arizona State

Bobby Hurley was geographically incompatible with Arizona State from day one. Who knew he’d be competitively incompatible, too.

Through four seasons, Hurley’s (slow) rebuild appeared destined for annual Pac-12 title contention and NCAA Tournament berths. But since 23 wins (12-6 in the Pac-12) and a second consecutive tourney berth in 2019, the Sun Devils have gone nowhere.

They atoned for a loss to Texas Southern by obliterating Michigan in the Legends Classic tourney.

Replacement: Niko Medved, Colorado State head coach.

Josh Pastner – Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech followed a miracle run to the 2021 NCAA Tournament with a dud in 2021-22, a 12-win season that included just five ACC wins, the program’s fewest in seven years.

Except for a top-30 class in 2021 (247Sports), Josh Pastner is recruiting at a shockingly bad level – three of his last four classes were ranked outside the top 100 nationally – and has no periods of sustained success since arriving in 2016.

The Yellow Jackets played three high-major teams in November. They lost all three by a combined 44 points, including a 24-point loss to Marquette.

Replacement: Ron Hunter, Tulane head coach

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About the Author

Andrew Doughty

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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM with a focus on college football, NFL, college basketball, and NASCAR. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM with a focus on college football, NFL, college basketball, and NASCAR. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.