Four NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat


Many coaches are on thin ice with their team’s performance as of late. (Courtesy of Twitter)

It may still be January, and we still have about a month or so until we reach selection Sunday, but that doesn’t stop this thinktank! The NCAA Men’s Basketball coaching extravaganza is the most chaotic event of the offseason that isn’t the transfer portal.

Some coaches will never get fired no matter how much you conspire online, because there is no reason to can them. Everyone builds at their own pace, some systems take longer than others to learn.

Take the University of Richmond’s Chris Mooney, for example. The meme of “#ExtendMooney” will never die because he’s been getting extensions since he took the job in 2005. Despite the Spiders only winning the Atlantic 10 twice with Mooney in 2011 and in 2022, and going to the big dance three times, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t found success in the CBI or the NIT.

Regarding last year’s A-10 title run: when you win the conference as a sixth seed and win a game in the NCAA tournament you get a serious cushion.

But then you get people who are absolutely clueless, even if fans and administration are trying to be patient.

Without further ado, here are five NCAA Men’s Basketball coaches who are very much in danger of hearing “you’re fired” from their respective athletic directors.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Neptune, Villanova

Kyle Neptune leaving Fordham for the Villanova job is 100% justified; anyone with a brain would do the same. Villanova’s Athletic Director, Mark Jackson, had good reason to rehire Neptune: a byproduct of Jay Wright (also one of his lead assistants), familiarity of the culture and the style that brought them two national championships.

Neptune did good things at Fordham. He ushered the school into the modern era and went .500 in addition to a trip to the A-10 quarter finals. Many of the transfers returned to Rose Hill even after his departure, which brought the excitement back that evaded Fordham for years. Neptune wasn’t unqualified, but here inlays the problem: Neptune was only a head coach for one season at Fordham.

Wright’s retirement came from left field, but when Neptune was named the successor moments later, the “Jay Wright set this all up” conspiracy gained legit traction. On top of the school not exactly conducting a national search the way they should have, everything he did in the summer of 2021 at Fordham he retracted in the summer of 2022 at Villanova. Wright left him with the 25th hardest schedule (KenPom), his entire staff, a team with an injured Justin Moore, two all time greats who graduated and an abundance of role players and freshmen.

Neptune admitted he was as shocked as anyone when Wright stepped down. His flaws as a coach are far outweighed by everything else around him. If you do a quick search on Twitter, or wander around on Villanova fan forums (shoutout to NoEscolators), they want him gone, which is quite unfair. Neptune still has a lot of time but this isn’t so much about him, rather a jab at everything around him, especially Wright. This situation was set up for failure for anyone who would have been hired for the position.

Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech

Any assistant that comes from the Lute Olson and John Calipari coaching trees should be a hire with no second thoughts. Josh Pastner succeeded Calipari at the University of Memphis, guiding the Tigers to three straight Conference USA titles and four straight NCAA tournament appearances. His first year at Georgia Tech got off to a hot start, beating the eventual national champion North Carolina in his first ACC game. He was later named ACC coach of the year, but things have gone south after being the NIT runner-up in 2017 and winning 21 games.

Beyond his on-court product suffering after that first season, Pastner was dealing with NCAA sanctions because of Ron Bell. Bell, one of his former friends, had violated multiple recruiting rules which resulted in a postseason ban for Tech in 2020 plus scholarship limits (some sanctions were later repealed). Bell would later be sentenced to jail for extortion against Pastner, but unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped the program’s downward spiral.

The next season, the Yellow Jackets won the ACC tournament, securing their bid for the big dance, but were defeated by Loyola University Chicago in the first round in the COVID-19 riddled year. Ensuing seasons included a horrendous 12-20 record with a 14th place finish in the ACC in 2022, and they now sit at 8-10 with a 1-7 record in conference. His portal work this past summer was uninspiring, the schemes are stale and his failure to develop in-house talent is moving way slower than it should. Players left at high rates, something all ACC teams deal with, but Pastner’s time is running short.

Billy Lange, Saint Joseph’s

If you were to list the greatest coaches ever in mid-major history, you won’t take too long to get to Phil Martelli. Billy Lange, much like Neptune, was brought in to replace the program icon. Sprinkle in a statistic for “most time spent injured,” Lange’s tenure at Saint Joseph’s University would take the cake and have no competition. It was that bad at Hawk Hill, even last season the team had only four players appear in all their games.

Lange arrived with a very accomplished track record as an assistant: two Villanova stints as an assistant then as the associate head coach, La Salle and the NBA with the 76ers as an assistant during “the process.” His first run in division one was at the Naval Academy where he oversaw some decent years for Navy’s standards, but now he’s hit a wall at Joe’s. 2022 was a step going from six wins to 11, which isn’t hard to do but still a considerable improvement.

His program building skills are decent all things considered: he’s able to recruit good freshmen and find quality portal players, but how he meshes it all together is quite suspect. Lange runs an NBA style; almost everyone shoots threes on the team, Charles Coleman included. Lange’s guards, specifically Erik Reynolds and Cameron Brown, are tasked with the majority of the ball handling in isolation. His team is also small which accounts for their atrocious defensive rating, relying entirely on the centers to carry that end.

Lange was given an awful jump point, yes, but proves why many colleges aren’t enthusiastic when hiring NBA coaches. All the aspects of building the program are not for everyone let alone style of play. Lange is the inverted exception in this case. Saint Joseph’s holds high standards for their basketball team historically and Billy Lange may be the handcuff holding them back.

Patrick Ewing, Georgetown

To nobody’s surprise, the greatest Knick and Hoya ever is the worst coach in the history of Georgetown University. In all my years of watching college hoops, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like Patrick Ewing’s last two seasons. Sitting through bad Knicks teams is one thing, and obviously Fordham had its fair share of truly poor seasons, but Georgetown going 0-19 in the Big East and not winning a conference game since the Spring of 2021 is a new rock bottom.

Ewing does earn partial credit with recruiting, which he certainly can do. The likes of Omer Yutrseven, Jamorko Pickett and Mac McClung all made the NBA. Aminu Muhammad is currently with the Delaware Blue Coats, the G League affiliate of the 76ers. He also found good portal players in Primo Spears, Brandon Murray, Akok Akok and Kaiden Rice to name a few.

The player development, or lack thereof, is what destroys Ewing’s chances of having any elite Hoya teams in his tenure. Aminu Muhammad is a prime example; a top 25 recruit was the best player on a 6-25 Hoya team last year and is only in the G League. That normally doesn’t happen with players of such caliber. Nevermind his awful X’s & O’s (go watch the final possession in their most recent game against Villanova).

There is no world where Ewing doesn’t get fired once the season concludes. The last two years at his alma mater may serve as an incentive for schools to never hire him for vacant coaching positions. It is unfortunate because of who he was as a player, but a once blue blood is in shambles because of all this. All of the problems are going to be so hard to fix for the new coach, whoever that may be.

Bob Huggins, West Virginia

The first time you saw Bob Huggins’ name on this you probably thought “How in the world is a legend like Bob Huggins on the hot seat?” Here is the deal, since the 2018-19 season, “Hugs” has gone 4-14, 9-9, 11-6 and 4-14 in Big 12 play. Right now the Mountaineers, despite a strong start in non-conference play, are 1-6 in Big 12 play.

Huggins’ track record is nothing short of amazing: He took Akron to the tournament in 1986, turned Cincinnati into a perennial power with Nick Van Exel, Kenyon Martin and Jason Maxiell, and won the Big East in 2010 and went to the Final Four with the Mountaineers before the Big East realigned in 2013. He’s been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, won conference championships and Big 12 coach of the year, but is flustered by the Big 12 conference championship title.

The last few seasons have been pedestrian in terms of post season success. That one tournament appearance in the last five years took them as far as the second round in 2021. Huggins has recently failed to tap into the full potential of players he did have, some of whom transferred and blossomed. West Virginia isn’t exactly known for producing high end talent like the bigger schools within the conference, but Oscar Tshiebwe was right in their lap and left for Kentucky where he became the most dominant player in college basketball. His portal work has seen more losses than gains, Tshiebwe easily being the biggest loss among others.

Things are getting stale down in West Virginia, but the administration will not fire Huggins because of who he is in terms of legacy. But the school may have to shake things up if they want to get back into Big 12 contention. Along with the incoming members in July, West Virginia could be stuck in the pillow fight unless they take initiative. Letting Bob Huggins go would be a shock to the system but perhaps for the better.