The hot seat in any sport, or in this case, in any program at the collegiate level can be tough to project.
Nobody is really right or wrong about who’s on the hot seat or not sometimes because athletic directors and administrators (plus boosters) feel differently about the head coach of the different programs they oversee than, say, diehard fans and media members do.
It’s also to project in the Mountain W who’s getting the can after ... you know ... a historically great season.
But, here we are! A week after outlining who I believe the five best head men’s basketball coaches are in the conference, it’s time to see if any coaches could—key word, could; I have as many sources as you do—be on the hot seat entering the 2023-24 season.
Contract is way too big to be on the hot seat:
Steve Alford, Nevada
It’s been a roller coaster tenure for Alford at Nevada, but he followed an incredibly disappointing 13-18 season with its first 20-win season and NCAA Tournament appearance since he took over last season, finishing 22-11. Nevada would also be looking at a $8.25 million buyout between now and next July. They’re not Ohio State. Next ...
Coming off a bad season, but shouldn’t be on the hot seat.
Niko Medved, Colorado State
Jeff Linder, Wyoming
Wyoming and Colorado State were both among the favorites to win the Mountain West, but preseason injuries to their best players—in Colorado State’s case, Isaiah Stevens; in Wyoming’s case, Graham Ike, the preseason player of the year—limited their ceiling.
It ended up being much better for Colorado State than it did for the Pokes, who had a midseason mass exodus from their top transfers combined with several injuries to a number of their key contributors.
Ike transferred to Gonzaga over the offseason, but Linder, who’s posted four 20-win seasons in six combined seasons with Northern Colorado and Wyoming, is a very good coach that will get this program back on track. Medved’s entering year six with CSU, but three 20-win seasons with the program keeps his job safe after a momentary step back last year.
Their respective programs continue to improve, so no:
Joe Scott, Air Force
Richard Pitino, New Mexico
Tim Miles, San Jose State
Kevin Kruger, UNLV
New Mexico still carries the best backcourt in the conference and could be a perennial 20-win team with Pitino, barring an unforeseen season. And Air Force—while only winning 14 games last year—has a head coach who’s proven he can win at smaller programs with recruiting restrictions.
In Miles’ case, he bought himself a couple of years by being the first San Jose State coach to win 20 games in over four decades. Kruger’s entering year three at UNLV and put together another good recruiting class this summer, so I have faith his leash is long unless they underperform for the next couple of seasons.
Too early to tell
Danny Sprinkle, Utah State
Sprinkle hasn’t coached a game at Utah State yet. Sooo ...
... is there actually a coach on the hot seat?
The only way Leon Rose or Brian Dutcher leave their respective programs is if they get poached by a power-five school. That leaves one candidate: Justin Hutson (Fresno State).
He’s produced two 20-win seasons at Fresno State in five seasons. But Hutson is entering the final year of his contract and has been told that he needs to win by athletic director Terry Tumey in order to deserve an extension.
Isaiah Pope, Enoch Boakye and Xavier DuSell are good additions from the transfer portal and the Bulldogs have a manageable non-conference schedule, but if the program falls below .500 for the third time in five years, I don’t expect Hutson to return.