Being a head coach in Division 1 basketball is a very demanding year round job. Recruiting is non-stop, and getting players to perform on the court and in the classroom are all part of the job description. There are some coaches who can do it for decades, while others don’t last.
However, there is one thing that a basketball coach must do in order to keep his job or land a more high profile one.That is to WIN. It is very simple. If you win, you will have a job. If you struggle, you might be on the unemployment line hoping a university will take another chance on you.
In this article, we delve into who we believe to be the 5 best coaching hires this year. We also write about 5 coaches whose jobs are in jeopardy and are on the hot seat. Last but not least, we list the top 10 coaches that are paid the most in college basketball. Here is your NCAA Basketball Coaching News for the 2017-18 season.
The following are 5 new head coaching hires that in our opinion, are the 5 best hires in college basketball this year. Most of these coaches have had major success at their previous jobs while one coach is entering his first year as a head coach at any level.
BRAD UNDERWOOD (ILLINOIS)
We love this hire. Underwood got the Oklahoma State job prior to last season and took the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. The Frank Martin coaching disciple left Stillwater and headed back to the state of Illinois. He coached at 2 different colleges in the state for 11 years and has recruiting ties in the area.
Underwood plays a very fast paced style of play, which should endear him to high school recruits and fans. In the tough and rugged BIG-10 conference, this style of play will be completely different than what is the norm. Underwood has won at all of his previous jobs, which included a remarkable 53-1 conference record while at Stephen F. Austin. We look for Underwood to get the Fighting Illini back on track after a few down years. It shouldn’t take more than 2 years for the Illini to once again be a serious threat in the BIG-10.
ARCHIE MILLER (INDIANA)
Miller was perhaps the biggest name and hire on this list. He enjoyed tremendous success at the University of Dayton and made them a premier A-10 program. While the Hoosiers lose both Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby to the NBA, Miller should have Indiana competing against everyone immediately.
Miller is only 38-years old, which makes him one of the youngest coaches at the division 1 level. However, he has proved to be a great in game coach and will not be flustered by the pressure that the Indiana job entails. Miller has a career coaching record of 139-63. The brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller should be able to land highly touted high school prospects. We believe that Indiana nailed this hire as they are paying Miller like an elite coach. He is currently the 7th highest paid coach in college basketball as he will be making $3.35 million dollars this season. We think that money will be well spent.
CHRIS HOLTMANN (OHIO STATE)
The Butler Bulldogs have had a remarkable run throughout the last 10-15 years. They also produce excellent coaches. Brad Stevens brought the school to national prominence when he took Butler to consecutive national championship games. Stevens is now the head coach for the Boston Celtics and has done a very good job there. Taking over for Stevens at Buter was Chris Holtmann. All he did at Butler was continue the run of success.
The 2016-17 Big East Coach of the Year takes over for Thad Matta, who was fired last year. While Matta mostly enjoyed success at Ohio State, the program was projecting downward. Insert Holtmann. His teams play great defense and are fundamentally sound. The 45-year old Holtmann seems like a perfect fit for the Buckeyes. It may take a year or 2 to get this program back among the BIG-10’s elite, however we have full confidence that he is the right man for the job.
PATRICK EWING (GEORGETOWN)
John Thompson III wore out his welcome and was fired last year. Enter perhaps the best player in the history of Georgetown basketball. Patrick Ewing is a hall of fame NBA basketball player. He has been an assistant coach in the NBA for 14 years. This will be his first head coaching job at any level. While he hasn’t been the head man at any place, we think he is the right man at the right time for this tradition rich program.
The Hoya’s have fallen on hard times in recent years. They haven’t been able to recruit at a level that is necessary to compete for NCAA tournament berths. Georgetown is banking on that changing. We think Ewing and his staff will be able to recruit, especially in the Washington, DC area, which is a hot-bed for high school talent. Ewing can sell recruits on what it takes to get to the next level. It will take a few years for the former New York Knick great to get the Hoya’s back into NCAA tournament consideration. However, the time was right and Ewing is ready for the challenge to bring his alma mater back into the national spotlight.
WILL WADE (LSU)
Wade is only 34-years old. Don’t let his age fool you. He led VCU to the Big Dance during his 2 years there. Wade is known as a top-notch recruiter as he already has 2 5-star recruits committed for 2019.
Wade, who was the top assistant for Texas head coach Shaka Smart while at VCU, will bring needed enthusiasm to Baton Rouge. His teams play pressure defense and 40 minutes of tough, full-court basketball. Change was desperately needed at LSU. We think this was a great hire. While he might be young, Wade has already shown that he knows what it takes to get the job done. With his recruiting ability, it should only be a matter of time that LSU basketball becomes relevant again in the SEC conference.
COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
College basketball is littered every year with coaches who have an extreme amount of pressure on them to win. Some have it more than others. In the cutthroat world of college basketball, winning is the most important thing. The following 5 coaches we believe are the coaches whose seats are the hottest. These coaches must have a big 2017-18 season in order to keep their job. If not, they will most likely be finding a new job for next season.
JIM CHRISTIAN (BOSTON COLLEGE)
Boston College has really struggled since moving into the ACC Conference a couple of years ago. One of the major reasons why the Eagles have been mediocre is because of the lack of recruiting at a high level. BC has extremely high academic standards, which has made landing high profile prospects extremely tough. Christian has a record of 6-48 in conference play during his 3 seasons at the helm. That simply won’t get it done.
BC recently hired Martin Jarmond to become it’s new athletic director. Athletic Director’s are known for hiring their own people and like to clean house. It looks like Christian might have to make the NIT at the least in order to keep his job. Such is life as a head coach at the division 1 level.
KEVIN STALLINGS (PITTSBURGH)
Stallings had a successful run as the head coach at Vanderbilt as he took them to the NCAA tournament multiple times. We never liked the fit between Stallings at Pittsburgh when he took the job last year. Pitt struggled through a 16-17 season and Stallings was not exactly a crowd favorite. Jamie Dixon, who built the Panthers into a top 20 program was a beloved figure at the university before he bolted for the TCU job last year, which created the job opening.
There is a new athletic director in charge at Pitt. As everyone who follows college athletics knows, AD’s are known for hiring their own people. This means Stallings probably needs to make the NCAA tournament in order to be back next year. With only 3 returning players and without a great recruiting class this year, being over .500 in the ACC conference will most likely be too difficult to achieve. The Panthers stand a good chance of having to search for a new coach once the season ends.
BRUCE WEBER (KANSAS STATE)
There is one major theme with coaches who are on the hot seat. New athletic directors. That is the case with Kansas State and Bruce Weber. We consider Weber a very good coach and he has been successful at his previous stops, which included a Final 4 appearance while at Illinois. With a career coaching record of 413-223 in 19 seasons, Weber has shown he can get the job done.
Rumors around the program is that he hasn’t been embraced by the donors and important athletic department people. This isn’t good news to hear even when the team has made the NCAA tournament 3 times in 5 years. This scenario will be one to watch. It looks like another NCAA tournament appearance might not even be enough to save Weber’s job. This is a perfect case of higher-ups having their way as they already have a coach who wins. Politics seem to play a role even in college basketball.
BRAD BROWNELL (CLEMSON)
Expectations were pretty high for the Tigers last season. They had one of the premier players in the conference in Jaron Blossomgame. Even the 2nd round NBA draft choice couldn’t get the school over the hump. A 17-16 record, which included a first round loss to Oakland in the NIT has Brownell on the hot-seat. Entering his 8th year at Clemson, Brownell has compiled a 124-103 record.
While known as a football school, the university has the money to go out and land a high profile coach. Money isn’t the issue. In the tough ACC Conference, even an NIT berth likely won’t save Brownell’s job. With a team that lost its best player, it seems like the head coach won’t be around for his 9th season. Not making the NCAA tournament since 2011 won’t be stood for, especially with a team playing in a basketball first conference.
DAVE LEITAO (DEPAUL)
DePaul has a very rich basketball history and tradition. Unfortunately, that history was over 25 years ago. Sitting in Chicago, one would think that the university would be able to field a competitive team just by recruiting local players. For one reason or another, the Blue Demons just haven’t been able to sustain any type of consistency.
Dave Leitao is a solid basketball coach. They have a brand new 10,000 seat arena, which should definitely help with recruiting. But after going 9-23 last year, it might be a new coach who gets to be coaching in that arena in 2018-19. Having a coaching record of 76-79 in 5 years just isn’t good enough for Leitao to keep his job unless major improvement is made this season. After going just 2-12 in conference play in 2016-17, we aren’t very positive about major improvement happening.
TOP 10 HIGHEST PAID COACHES
Salaries for college basketball coaches have skyrocketed in the past decade. Millions of dollars are poured into athletic programs and universities are willing to pay tons of money in order to field winning programs. Here are the salaries of the 10 highest paid coaches in college basketball as we head into the 2017-18 season.
#10: KEVIN OLLIE (UCONN) $2.8 MILLION
#9: SCOTT DREW (BAYLOR) $2.82 MILLION
#8: GREGG MARSHALL (WICHITA STATE) $3.04 MILLION
#7: ARCHIE MILLER (INDIANA) $3.35 MILLION
#6: JOHN BEILEIN (MICHIGAN) $3.37 MILLION
#5: BOB HUGGINS (WEST VIRGINIA) $3.59 MILLION
#4: TOM IZZO (MICHIGAN STATE) $4.25 MILLION
#3: BILL SELF (KANSAS) $4.93 MILLION
#2: MIKE KRZYZEWSKI (DUKE) $5.55 MILLION
#1: JOHN CALIPARI (KENTUCKY) $7.44 MILLION
NOTE: Rick Pitino had a contract that would pay him $7.7 million dollars this season. He would have been the highest paid coach in college basketball. Pitino was fired by Louisville right before practices began after an FBI investigation found that Louisville assistant coaches paid $100,000 to a high school recruit. That high school recruit was found to be Brian Bowen. Bowen was ruled ineligible for this season. Pitino’s coaching career is up in the air.
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