Credit: Penn State Athletics

Hot Seat Watch: Big Ten

Highlighting the status of every coach in the Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten enters the season with two big name coaches joining the conference in Juwan Howard and Fred Hoiberg. Michigan State is widely predicted to be not only the best team in the league, but also in the country as they enter what will be a Final Four or bust type of year for the Spartans. While there are many quality long term coaches in the conference, there are also multiple coaches that could be on their last legs if the program does not show improvement. We broke down the status of every coach in the Big Ten, based on past success and the general climate around the team heading into the regular season. The categories are Ice Cold, Not In Jeopardy, In Danger of Seat Warming, Honeymoon Phase, and First Year Coaches.

Ice Cold: 

Tom Izzo (Michigan State)

Career Record: 606-232

Record at Michigan State: 626-202

Izzo has a national championship in 2000, 8 Final Fours, and 9 Big Ten regular season championships since taking over the job in 1995. If there is one knock on the coaching legend it is that his teams have too often fallen short in the Final Four, but there is no question that the job is his until he decides to hang up the suit.

Matt Painter (Purdue)

Career Record: 346-164

Record at Purdue: 321-159

Whatever the reasoning, Painter is one of the most underrated coaches in the country if you value consistency. He took over in 2005 for Purdue legend Gene Keady, and it is never easy to follow a longstanding coach who retires with legend status, but for the most part he has continued that legacy. Painter has made the NCAA tournament 11 times in 15 seasons, to go with 3 Big Ten regular season championships and 1 conference tournament championship. The team got close to a Final Four losing in the Elite Eight last season but regardless of the postseason success, as long as Painter wants to stick around he will be leading the Boilermakers.

Not In Jeopardy:

Fran McCaffrey (Iowa)

Career Record: 425-309

Record at Iowa: 174-132

McCaffrey had built up plenty of job security after making the NCAA tournament three seasons in a row from 2013 to 2016 but back to back down years had some questioning the direction of the program. The team bounced back in 2018-2019 with a 23 win season before losing in the second round the tournament. Iowa is not the easiest place to win in the country and for the time being McCaffrey should not have to worry about his standing with the administration.

Richard Pitino (Minnesota)

Career Record: 130-106

Record at Minnesota: 112-92

There is a chance that Pitino saved his job after winning 22 games and making the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, but the overall level of success since he took the job has been less than stellar. Since taking over the reins in 2013-2014 the Golden Gophers are 10-70 in the Big Ten so his record as a whole is somewhat deceiving as far as how competitive they have been. Another down year and he will be back in the hot seat if he is not already there by the administration but at this point it seems likely he will be given some more time to try and take the program to new heights.

Chris Collins (Northwestern)

Career Record: 101-96

Record at Northwestern: 101-96

As the only coach to lead Northwestern to the NCAA tournament, Collins has been solid when you consider how hard it is to win at the school, especially in the Big Ten. On paper it does not look great, and the Big Ten record for Collins is sub par, but when you consider this is a program that has traditionally been awful it puts the numbers in a little better light. Everyone involved would like to see the team make another NCAA tournament or a deep run in the conference tournament, but as long as Collins can hover around 20 wins his job should be safe.

Greg Gard (Wisconsin)

Career Record: 80-47

Record at Wisconsin: 80-47

Despite a down year in 2017-2018, for the most part Gard has kept Wisconsin at the level of competitiveness that Bo Ryan obtained in his long tenure leading the Badgers. Entering year five leading the program, as long as he continues to win 20 plus games per year and make NCAA tournament appearances, then he will likely have a long career in Madison unless he chooses to head elsewhere.

Mark Turgeon (Maryland)

Career Record: 430-251

Record at Maryland: 180-92

Turgeon was firmly in the hot seat after the 2013-2014 season that saw the Terps out of postseason play for the third year in a row. He proved to right the ship leading the team to three straight NCAA tournaments before missing postseason play again in 2017-2018, followed by a 23 win season where they got back to the tournament. With a recruiting hotbed in the DC area and a fan base that has some high expectations there are still calls for his job across the fan base. Ultimately Turgeon has been given plenty of time to build a winner and for the most part the team has just not had as much success that is needed to feel safe in the position. With a talented roster this season and another down year or an early exit in the tournament the administration could decide it is time for a new direction. With that said he is in the “not in jeopardy category” due to the fact that there are no signs or reports at this time that the people calling the shots have any inclination to start fresh with another coach.

In Danger of Seat Warming:

Archie Miller (Indiana)

Career Record: 174-94

Record at Indiana: 35-31

While Miller has not spent enough time at Indiana to fully warrant being in the warming section, there are extremely high expectations at the blue blood program. The team did improve from year one to two record wise, but if you start your tenure with the Hoosiers by missing the NCAA tournament three consecutive seasons that could be a recipe for an early exit.


Brad Underwood (Illinois)

Career Record: 135-66

Record at Illinois: 26-39

Underwood joined Illinois after just one season at Oklahoma State and his first two years at the school have been underwhelming to say the least.  With potential lottery pick Ayo Dosunmu on the roster this season is going to be key for how he is viewed going forward. His recruiting has not been very impressive either so unless the program takes a turn for the better it is looking likely that Underwood will be out in the next season or two.

Pat Chambers (Penn State)

Career Record: 169-168

Record at Penn State: 127-140

Chambers is one of those coaches who if you asked the casual fan how long they have been at their respective school the answer would most likely be way off. Entering what will be his eight season leading the Nittany Lions, the team has cracked the 20 win mark one time and is yet to play in the postseason. If you take into account the lackluster history of the program as a whole then Chambers numbers are not as bad as they look on paper. Penn State has a past where they give coaches too long before pulling the trigger on moving in a new direction so while it is possible he is given a couple of more years without much improvement in the team, he is likely standing on his last legs in Happy Valley.

Steve Pikiell (Rutgers)

Career Record: 236-210

Record at Rutgers: 44-54

This is possibly the hardest status to determine due to the fact that Rutgers has been for the most part a horrible team since the 1970’s coupled with the fact that they traditionally have had no problem letting a coach go after three or four seasons. On the one hand Pikiell is not any worse than his predecessors and expecting too much more might be unrealistic, but on the other hand why have a basketball program if the administration is not constantly looking for ways to be more competitive. The most likely scenario is that the Scarlett Knights will continue to struggle and Pikiell will lose his job after this season or next before another coach comes in and tries to do the impossible, win at Rutgers.

Honeymoon Phase:

Chris Holtmann (Ohio State)

Career Record: 159-109

Record at Ohio State: 45-24

Although he is in the honeymoon phase on this list, not only is Holtmann’s job safe, but his first two seasons at Ohio State should have bought him a few more years to get to put his stamp on the program. Two years and a team consisting partially of another coaches recruits is why he is in this section, however the trajectory of the program seems to be going in a positive direction and depending on how well he recruits going forward, this could be his job for a considerable amount of time.

First Year Coaches:

Juwan Howard (Michigan)

Career Record: 0-0

Howard has already made his mark on the recruiting trail after receiving a commitment from 2020 five star forward Isaiah Todd, a good sign that he will be able to recruit at a high level. He inherits a program that saw enough success for their coach to land a job in the NBA so he will be expected to win and win early given that he is taking over a team that has plenty of talent to compete.

Fred Hoiberg (Nebraska)

Career Record: 115-56

Hoiberg had a great run at Iowa State before heading off to the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, but after three and a half seasons he was fired leading to his return to the college game. He was one of the best coaches in the country while at Iowa State, and while Nebraska is not a traditional basketball powerhouse, there is no reason to doubt that Hoiberg cannot have them competing at a similar level to his time at Iowa State.


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