The college basketball season is just starting, but some coaching tenures could be on the verge of ending, some in the middle of the season, not even waiting until the end. Athletic directors might not have enough patience to last until March. The pressure of the season and its expectations are already weighing down these five coaches, which doesn’t even include a few people who don’t make the cut:
Jeff Lebo, East Carolina
The former North Carolina basketball player under Dean Smith has been at East Carolina since the start of the decade. Anyone who coaches at East Carolina is not expected to quickly transform the program. This is one of the more forgotten, out-of-the-way, thankless jobs in college basketball, but even with that being said, seven years is more than enough time to be given a chance to prove oneself, and Lebo has not proven anything of note. Moreover, East Carolina has already suffered two bad losses early in the current season. Only a significant turnaround is likely to save Lebo’s job at this point. More horrible losses are sure to mean the end of the line.
Kevin Stallings, Pittsburgh
The Panthers were a good program under Jamie Dixon, not always spectacular, but consistently good enough to make the NCAA Tournament. Stallings was hired two seasons ago to continue that winning tradition, but Pitt finished near the bottom of the ACC last season and has started this year with multiple losses to smaller conference teams. They lost to Navy on the road and that’s never a good look. Then they followed that up with a 83-78 overtime loss at home to Montana.
The Panthers are in a tailspin, and if they finish well below .500 with only two or three ACC wins, Stallings could be gone after just two college basketball seasons.
Tim Miles, Nebraska
A Nebraska head coach on the hot seat? Imagine that. The football program knows exactly what the basketball program is going through.
Miles brought Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament, something which has rarely happened in the Cornhuskers’ snake-bitten basketball history. However, Miles has not built on that achievement. The program has sharply regressed in the years since, and as a result, the locals are grumbling. If this season falls apart, there won’t be a lot more patience. Nebraska built a new basketball arena and has improved its facilities. There is an expectation that the program improve itself. Miles has to keep up the pace.
The Cornhuskers are off to a mediocre 2-1 start, which isn’t going to help matters. They beat Eastern Illinois by just four points and then handled North Texas by 19 before losing at St. John’s.
Ernie Kent, Washington State
Washington State is a very hard place to win, but the Cougars have been terrible in each of Kent’s three seasons. With a fourth awful season, it will be harder for Kent to justify his position. What’s more is that Washington State athletic director Bill Moos left for Nebraska. Kent has a new athletic director, and that will naturally open up the possibility of a head coaching change if things don’t go well this season.
Kent has avoided disaster early on as Wazzu needed overtime to beat Texas Southern at home. However, they have straightened things out since them with back-to-back double-digit wins over Seattle and Idaho State.
Pat Chambers, Penn State
Penn State is also not an easy job for basketball coaches, but Chambers has continued to recruit well yet not coach well during the season. He has to get an NIT appearance at the very least this year to justify continued confidence from fans and administrators. Penn State has veteran experience on this roster and is expected to play at a reasonably high standard. The team cannot lag at the bottom of the Big Ten standings any longer.
The Nittany Lions haven’t been tested much but they have taken care of business so far. They’ve won all four of their games to start the year.
The 2018 March Madness futures are out. There has been plenty of news to keep up with in the offseason but keep an eye on the betting lines as they move around at Diamond Sportsbook! Get the latest college basketball betting lines right here.
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