While we’ve seen some teams maintain dominance in college basketball, others have failed to live up to their expectations. Unfortunately, that causes coaches to get on the hot seat as they begin coaching for their jobs.
It’s never enjoyable to predict who will be fired, but this is a business. ADs, sportsbooks and team boosters are looking for results, and failing to do so will cost you your job.
This gets worse when the NCAA Tournament has a wild structure. It becomes harder to win national championships consistently, but that is the standard for so many teams. As we’ve seen in the past, it only takes a few failed seasons to warm up ahead coach’s hot seat.
So, which head coaches are currently on the hot seat as we look ahead to the 2021 season? Regardless of buyouts and previous success, these coaches are here for a variety of reasons and they all need to win now if they want to keep their jobs.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame
This name may surprise some. After all, Brey led Notre Dame to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in the past, and he’s been the head coach for the Fighting Irish since 2000. Still, Notre Dame hasn’t seen much success in recent years.
Notre Dame’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2017. The Fighting Irish haven’t won a conference title since they were ACC Tournament champions back in 2015. This is partly because of Duke, North Carolina and Virginia in their conference, but you still expect them to be contenders every now and then.
Notre Dame has struggled in recruiting, and that’s the main reason why Mike Brey’s seat should be hot. It’s normal to see dips in success, but you really lose boosters when there is no hope for the future. The guard is changing in the ACC, but Notre Dame isn’t ready to be competitive any time soon.
After two decades, it’s clear that Notre Dame has a ceiling with Mike Brey as their head coach. His best days are behind him, and the Fighting Irish will likely look for a replacement if Notre Dame fails to reach the NCAA Tournament again this year. With their current odds and roster construction, that’s likely.
John Calipari, Kentucky
This sounds wild, and it may be. However, I believe the writing is on the wall for Kentucky to look for a new head coach.
John Calipari has been successful with the Wildcats, but he still hasn’t been as great as you’d think. Kentucky only has one championship since he took over, and they were not competitive in the SEC last year. Kentucky has higher standards than winning the conference, and they failed to even do that in 2021.
With teams like Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee looking solid on top sportsbooks, Kentucky’s dominant days may be behind them. With it becoming harder to consistently recruit, the gap in talent will no longer be prevalent in the conference.
Now, it’s unlikely that Calipari will be fired. However, both parties may agree to part ways if Kentucky fails to reach the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Calipari could head to the NBA, find another team or simply retire.
Kentucky hopes to turn things around this year, and there’s a chance they will. They have +1200 odds to win a national title, but that may just be because fans are willing to convince themselves that the Wildcats will bounce back. If they fail to do so, this could be John Calipari’s final season in Kentucky.
Tom Crean, Georgia
Crean was a big name, but he only saw limited success with Indiana. Now, he’s seen less success with the Georgia Bulldogs. Outside of a few upset wins, UGA hasn’t done anything noteworthy in recent memory. They squandered Anthony Edwards’ lone year on the roster, and they’ve failed to do anything else in recruiting.
Georgia has talent worth recruiting, but there isn’t a logical reason to choose the Bulldogs right now. In fact, they can’t even retain the talent on the roster. Almost every key contributor from last year’s team transferred, and Crean will have a hard time finding better options.
If Crean stays in Georgia much longer, it will simply be because the Bulldogs have low standards. They likely can’t find a better option, so they’ll have to settle for what they have.