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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

Moments ‘Til Madness: The seats heating up in college hoops

The head coaches that could be facing job searches this offseason.

"Moments 'Til Madness " Column Graphic
Graphic by Gretta Goorno

It’s getting to that time of year when teams either separate themselves as clear tournament teams or fall below expectations. Not only is this a crucial time for teams but also for the people coaching them. We already saw Tony Stubblefield, DePaul University's head coach, lose his gig two months into the season after what was shaping up to be another terrible year for the Blue Demons. Whether in the middle of the season or post-March, there’s bound to be a lot of movement on the coaching side of things in college hoops coming up. Here’s who I think could (or should) be at risk.

Kenny Payne, University of Louisville

Why not start with the most obvious pick for the hot seat, the head coach of the 6–15 Louisville Cardinals? Prior to his time coaching for the school, Louisville was a powerhouse in the sport, winning three national championships — one in 2013 — and making the tournament with ease year in and year out. While Payne has only had the job since 2022, there’s been only a downtrend in the program since his arrival. It took him just one season to record the worst win total (four) in Louisville men’s basketball history. This guy could be out of a job tomorrow for all we know.

Chris Holtmann, Ohio State University

While Holtmann has made the tournament at Ohio State four times in his six seasons as head coach, it looks like his Buckeyes won’t be playing in March in back-to-back seasons. To make matters worse, last season, they finished second-to-last in the Big Ten and also were under .500. This season has been much of the same for Holtmann’s squad, sitting at third-to-last in the conference with a three-game losing streak. Although this seems like a much better situation than Payne and others, OSU has a rich basketball history and these recent results won’t cut it. Unless something changes, it looks like Holtmann could be out of a job come the spring.

Kyle Neptune, Villanova University

Villanova, like the two schools discussed above, has an extremely strong reputation in college hoops, with some labeling the school as one of the sport’s ‘blue bloods.’ Recently, Villanova has looked far from living up to that name and many critics have placed the blame on Neptune. In the season prior to Jay Wright’s unexpected retirement, ‘Nova was in the Final Four. Now, it seems like the Wildcats will be missing their second straight tournament, with their quick descent to the bottom half of the Big East recently. Even with a strong roster, Neptune hasn’t looked like a competent coach and could definitely be out of a job before next season. At least, that is what most ’Nova fans are praying for.

Other coaches on the hot seat: Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt University), Mike Boynton Jr. (Oklahoma State University) and Jerod Haase (Stanford University)