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Evans Seven: Coaches on the hot seat

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The madness of March oftentimes extends off the court and into the coaching carousel. In this week’s Evans Seven, we examine seven head coaches that are squarely on the hot seat as the 2017-18 season comes to an end.

KEVIN STALLINGS OUT AT PITT: Who's next for the Panthers?


Tubby Smith
AP Images

Chances of returning: 40 percent

Just like Kevin Stallings, Smith could be relieved of his duties after just two years on the job. One of the more successful coaches throughout various stops at Texas Tech, Minnesota, Kentucky and Georgia, Smith’s tenure at Memphis has not got off of ground. While he has put together a strong showing down the stretch this season, Tigers’ fans have high expectations after the heights achieved during the John Calipari years. While that may not be realistically attainable moving forward, a slew of transfers, the mishandling of the Lawson family situation and a major downturn in recruiting have made the situation even more sour.

Whether Smith survives this offseason remains up for debate as Memphis supporters would love nothing more than for former Tigers great Penny Hardaway to take over the program.



Sean Miller
AP Images

Chances of returning: 70 percent

How can Sean Miller, thought to be one of the best coaches in the country heading into this season, be on the hot seat? Well, if you have been living under a rock, Miller has been navigating through difficult times since an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption led to the arrest and dismissal of ace Wildcats recruiter Book Richardson.

Despite struggling in the non-conference part of the schedule that saw Arizona fall out of the national polls, the Wildcats went on a run in conference play and won another Pac-12 title.

However, a recent report that Miller authorized a paid transaction that landed the five-star DeAndre Ayton threw the program into upheaval once again. Miller appears to have the administration's support, bu how much rope does he have in Tucson?

With former players such as Jason Terry calling for his job, might Miller attempt to get out before things get even more sour? Next year, Arizona will likely have to replace its entire starting five and currently has no 2018 prospects committed.


Bruce Pearl
AP Images

Chances of returning: 70 percent

What was just said about Miller could go for Bruce Pearl, too. Pearl has totally changed the complexion of the Auburn basketball program and led the Tigers to their first SEC title since 1999. He has done tremendous work this season despite navigating the year without assistant coach Chuck Person, who was engulfed by the original FBI investigation, and two of the team's top players Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy.

The feelings surrounding the program in October were that Pearl would be on the outs, but things have trended the other direction in recent months. If more FBI-related revelations become known, Pearl’s on-floor success might not be able to save him.


Mark Fox
AP Images

Chances of returning: 40 percent

How good is the Georgia job? The program's facilities are solid and the local talent base is second to none. With Kirby Smart catapulting the Bulldogs’ football program to elite levels in just two seasons, many fans want to see increased success on the hardwood as well - a consistent NCAA tournament team, at least. Fox has guided Georgia to the tournament just twice in the last nine seasons, so could now be the time for change in Athens? The Bulldogs made major news with the five-star junior commitment of Ashton Hagans, but with his decommitment last week and another missed NCAA Tournament, Fox might be on the outs.


Dave Leitao
AP Images

Chances of returning: 90 percent

The talking heads in Chicago have gone all-in on Dave Leitao. While his third season has brought the most success compared to his first two, DePaul still remains at the bottom of the conference. What adds to the fire surrounding Leitao is the program's brand-new, $175 million basketball arena that ranks among the best in all of college basketball.

Leitao has patiently worked to rebuild the Blue Demons' roster through the transfer, grad-transfer and high school markets. DePaul’s new president, A. Gabriel Esteban, came to the university from Seton Hall, a place that remained patient during the more mediocre years of Kevin Willard’s tenure before seeing their breakthrough into a consistent NCAA Tournament team. Could that same patience be given to Leitao? The next several days should provide the answer.


Ernie Kent
AP Images

Chances of returning: 30 percent

Is there a more difficult power conference job than Washington State? Based in Pullman, Wash., the Cougars do not have a local, reliable talent base from which to draw like in-state rival Washington. Ernie Kent enjoyed a few good years in the Pac-12 at Oregon, but has failed to finish above eighth place at Wazzu. The program has a few building blocks in Robert Franks and Malachi Flynn but patience may be wearing thin on the Palouse. Washington State may not ever find the next Tony Bennett, but a perennial middle-of-the-pack program is not too much to ask.


Kevin Ollie
AP Images

Chances of returning: 50 percent

Just four years ago, UConn fans were sweating things out, hoping that Kevin Ollie would remain in Storrs and decline overtures from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Fast-forward to the present and Huskies fans are calling for Ollie’s head after a downturn in wins on the court and in recruiting.

UConn now exists as a middling program in a middling American Athletic Conference. The Huskies have finished fifth, sixth, fifth and eighth in the AAC since its surprising national title in 2014. UConn has finished under .500 two straight seasons for the first time since 1985-86.

Potential NCAA infractions within the program have made matters even worse for Ollie, as they could give the university cause for his dismissal and a way out of paying him the $10 million still owed on his deal. Ollie has done a commendable job of getting his program’s APR back on track and remains one of most respected coaches within the business, but whether he can survive the next few weeks in Storrs remains an open question.