Road to the Final Four at Ford Field: Coaches Whose Seats Are Hot, Hot, Hot

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IOctober 26, 2008

There's two forms of the coach's hot seat. First, there's the hot seat for the coach that is truly in danger of losing his job because of poor performance. But there is also the coach that has lots of job security through a long tenure or recent contract extension and won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

So essentially this is a list of coaches who deserve to be and/or already are on the hot seat.

1. Bill Carmody, Northwestern

Raise your hand if you remember the last time Northwestern was relevant in the Big 10. If you raised your hand, then you know the Wildcats haven't been a factor during Bill Carmody's tenure.

After elevating an Ivy League team (Princeton) into a top ten team, Carmody left the Tigers to coach another school with high academic standards. The last eight years in Evanston haven't been full of wins to say the least.

Combine Carmody's inability to recruit top players to NU, the Princeton's offense's ineffectiveness in the Big 10, and a lack of size, and Carmody has produced one winning season, but no winning seasons in the conference.

Carmody has adopted a 1-3-1 zone on defense to try to make up for his team's lack of size, but for the most part his Big 10 opponents haven't had any trouble figuring it out.

Carmody finally brings in size and girth around the basket; four players 6'8'' or taller will be eligible to grace the court for Carmody.

If Northwestern doesn't significantly improve from its 3-33 record in conference the past two seasons, Carmody could be looking for a job next March.

2. Oliver Purnell, Clemson

To put it simply: Oliver Purnell isn't going to be losing his job anytime soon. The Tigers' coach just signed a contract extension through 2014, so it appears as if Purnell won't be leaving the state of South Carolina anytime soon.

But that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to be on the hot seat.

The last two seasons are two of the most disappointing for Tigers' fans because of how much Clemson underperformed. After slowly turning the Clemson basketball team into a bunch of winners, Purnell took two steps back the past two seasons for his failures in ACC play and the NCAA Tournament.

Two years ago, Clemson opened the season 17-0. The school was flying towards the top of the rankings and had big aspirations for the rest of the season. Things derailed quickly and Purnell's team didn't even reach the NCAA Tournament.

Last year, Purnell had a team that had the talent to make the Final Four, but instead Villanova, a 12 seed, bounced Clemson in the first round.

This season, Purnell loses a few key components to last year's team, but returns three double-digit scores. If Purnell doesn't win at least one NCAA Tournament game this year, this South Carolina school will be a disappointment once again.

3. Jeff Lebo, Auburn

The numbers say it all for Jeff Lebo. His team has one winning season in four years and a pathetic 19-45 record in the SEC. Auburn has been in the SEC-West cellar in three of his four seasons.

Lebo wasn't able to produce a winning bunch despite having a fairly deep, talented group of players last year.

This year should be different for Auburn. The Tigers once again return a pretty talented core of players, but also welcome in two sharpshooting guards who finally give Lebo an outside threat.

If the Tigers don't reach the NIT, which is a very attainable goal for Lebo in his fifth season, he won't be around next year.

4. Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall

The fiery personality of Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez has cost him one game on the sidelines in 2009, but has also put his job in jeopardy. After blowing up on officials following a loss to Rutgers, the Big East suspended Gonzalez for the first conference game in 2009.

Gonzalez also sits on the hot seat for his team's poor performance.

Expected to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid last year, the Pirates sunk into Davy Jones' Locker in the second half of the Big East schedule. Seton Hall lacked depth and finished the year 2-9.

The Pirates will look toward several newcomers for depth and won't be an improved team in 2009. Big East coaches on media day picked Seton Hall to finish 13th this year.

5. Dennis Felton, Georgia

Dennis Felton should thank whoever came up with the idea to give the winners of each conference tournament an NCAA Tournament bid because without the automatic bid, Felton probably wouldn't have a job.

The Georgia coach's tenure has been a disaster during his five years in Athens. Just two NIT bids and one NCAA Tournament bid that Georgia clinched by somehow winning four games in three days after winning just four conference games during the regular season.

If Felton can't build off of his miraculous run and turn the Bulldogs into winners, he could and should be out of a job at the end of the season.

The Bulldogs don't return a lot of talent and the incoming class isn't that impressive so a winning season in the SEC is once again unlikely.

6. Sidney Lowe, NCST

The Wolfpack had high hopes for the 2008 season, but NCST couldn't put things together and suffered a last place ACC finish. Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley combined saw a scoring drop of almost 50 percent after averaging 31 ppg in 2007. Prized recruit J.J. Hickson excelled, but didn't really fit in.

Hickson is gone, as well as second leading scorer Gavin Grant, so scoring options are few and far between.

After running Herb Sendak out of town only team to see him succeed out west at Arizona State, NCST probably won't be as quick to pull the trigger on Lowe.

7. Mike Anderson, Missouri

Mike Anderson's brand of basketball is supposed to be exciting and high tempo, but after two straight seasons of losing in the Big 12, Anderson needs to make his team win, not exciting.

After dealing with fireworks off the court, Anderson must stay competitive throughout the Big 12 slate.

Anderson returns several key players including Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Demarre Carroll. If Anderson can't take Missouri to at least the NIT, he could be taking his up tempo style of play to another school.

8. Mark Gottfried, Alabama

It's pretty simple: go to the NCAA Tournament and keep your job. Two straight disappointing seasons have lead to Mark Gottfried's demise in Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide has the parts to be an NCAA Tournament team, but it'll be Mark Gottfried's job to get forward Alonzo Gee to mesh with newcomer JaMychal Green and red-shirted guard Ronald Steele.

9. Ed DeChellis, Penn State

Every Penn State coach faces one major problem: how do you recruit star players to a school that lacks basketball tradition, plays in the Big 10, but is located in Big East country?

Current PSU coach Ed DeChellis hasn't really figured out a solution to that problem.

During the past few years, Penn State looked like it was on the verge of finally making that last step toward gaining and NCAA Tournament berth, but injuries and under performance have led to several more unsuccessful seasons.

DeChellis has never had a winning record as the Nittany Lions head coach nor does he have a postseason win. If he can't get PSU to at least the NIT this year, DeChellis is as good as gone.

10. Leonard Hamilton, FSU

Florida State has had the talent to reach the NCAA Tournament during the past few years. Al Thornton turned a great career as a Seminole into a budding NBA career; three players from last year's team who were double-digit scores are also gone, each without playing a single game in the NCAA Tournament.

Hamilton will be forced to rebuild in 2009, but if the Seminoles don't show the ability to be success in the near future, Hamilton could be looking into selling his house in Tallahassee


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