Rival Views: Whose hot seat has cooled off the most?
The coaching rumor mill doesn't have an off switch. Coaches begin the year on the hot seat, they move off of it while others take their place, and then sometimes they switch places again.
So the question is, which coaches have done the best job of cooling their perceived hot seat this season? As usual, Rivals.com National Basketball Analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans have Rival Views.
Bossi's View: Bruce Pearl, Auburn
I don't know how much time I would have to spend thinking about a more interesting "hot seat" case than Auburn's Bruce Pearl, but it would probably take a long time. There's just so many layers to Pearl's current situation.
Now in his fourth year at Auburn, Pearl began the season with some doubters among his fanbase. When he took the job, he did so with a lot of publicity and while his recruiting has been excellent, the Tigers went just 44-54 (16-38 in the SEC) during his first three seasons with zero NCAA appearances.
Then the FBI's investigation into college basketball corruption hit and assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested and fired. Players Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley were suspended – Wiley can return next season, Purifoy's status is still up in the air – and a pair of support staffers were placed on indefinite leave. On top of all of that, Pearl was reportedly uncooperative with Auburn administration and he's working for an athletic director who didn't hire him.
For a coach who caught a three-year show cause penalty at Tennessee for lying to NCAA investigators, it looked like the end could be near.
Then this season happened.
At this point, Pearl would have to be one of the favorites for National Coach of the Year. Against all odds, Auburn is ranked in the top 10 of the national polls and has gone 21-3 (9-2 in the SEC). I can't imagine anybody saw this coming three months ago.
Now, what may happen down the road is anybody's guess. We have to see how things play out and whether or not Pearl has any potential trouble with his employers at Auburn or the NCAA. But, the job he's done coaching his team and how they have responded on the floor is without question one of the most eye-opening and impressive aspects to this season.
Evans' view: Brad Brownell, Clemson
Brad Brownell hasn’t finished higher than fourth place in the ACC since his hiring at Clemson in 2010. His seat was warm, very warm, at Clemson and toss in Dabo Swinney’s ability to turn his football program into a powerhouse and the recent $63.5 million renovations to Littlejohn Coliseum, and the time was now or never for Brownell.
Not only has Brownell hushed the naysayers, but he has placed himself atop ACC coach of the year honors this winter. Sitting with a 19-4 record and in second place of the ACC – ahead of Duke, UNC, Syracuse and Louisville – the Tigers are one of the best stories of the season. Brownell has always been able to coach, that was indisputable with his work at UNC-Wilmington and Wright State, but it was his calculated takes of transfers and underrated wins on the recruiting trail that gave the program a complete 180.
Clemson has a roster that relies heavily on transfers. Along with the four contributing members that began their college careers elsewhere, Brownell and his staff were able to develop lightly recruited small forward Donte Grantham into an NBA prospect and saw senior guard Gabe DeVoe become a central figure of their upstart this winter.
The commitment of Zion Williamson would have been a giant boon for the program and assured Brownell’s standing as the head coach in Clemson. But even the miss on the five-star prospect and Grantham’s season-ending injury could not derail just how great this winter has been for Brownell, cooling the hot seat as quickly as one can say Bring Your Own Guts.