FBI investigation has ‘hot seat’ lists unlike anything college basketball has ever seen

The college basketball season is now just 23 days away from tipping off. So every major sports website, including this one, is constantly publishing preview-related content. All-American teams. Conference predictions. Position rankings. So on and so forth. And a staple of annual preview-related content, obviously, is a list of men identified as "Coaches on the Hot Seat."

In normal times, it's just a list of coaches who haven't won enough lately.

But these are not normal times.

In normal times, it's a list of coaches on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament in too many consecutive years. A list of coaches who haven't recruited so well. A list of coaches whose arenas aren't filled. A list of coaches whose fans are fed up.

But these are not normal times.

Take Athlon's "Coaches on the Hot Seat" list that's already published, for instance. It's done in the traditional sense, which is fine, and features Clemson's Brad Brownell, who has missed six straight NCAA Tournaments, and Georgia's Mark Fox, who has missed five of the past six NCAA Tournaments. In normal times, those names make perfect sense. And perhaps they still do. But these are not normal times thanks to an ongoing FBI investigation that's helped expose the underbelly of the sport. Which is why I thought the following text I recently received from an industry source was interesting and possibly enlightening: "Will guys like Mark Fox and Brad Brownell, who I would say were on the hot seat heading into this season, be reevaluated with a different standard now because they are seen as good dudes who do it the right way?" the source asked. "Crazy times."

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Arizona coach Sean Miller has to answer some tough questions about the recruiting scandal. USATSI

In other words, this FBI investigation has flipped the hot-seat game completely. In normal times, somebody like Arizona's Sean Miller would never appear in a column like this because he's won three of the past four Pac-12 titles, been in five of the past seven Elite Eights and recruited so well his team could reasonably be ranked No. 1 this preseason. But these are not normal times. One of Miller's longtime assistants, Book Richardson, allegedly used money to buy a prospect and is now facing federal charges. So what happens if Richardson starts talking? Will his stories include other staff members? Will they include Miller specifically? And, if they do, does that mean Miller's seat is hotter now than any number of coaches who haven't won nearly as much as he's won?

Same goes for USC's Andy Enfield and Auburn's Bruce Pearl.

They too have assistants who were allegedly operating outside of the NCAA rulebook and are now facing federal charges. So what happens if those assistants start talking? Will their stories include other staff members? Will they include Enfield and Pearl specifically? And, if they do, does that mean Enfield's and Pearl's seats are hotter now than any number of coaches who haven't won nearly as much as they've won? Meantime, Miami coach Jim Larranaga has been served with a subpoena. Is he on the hot seat? And Oklahoma State has been served a subpoena that covers a timeframe of three different coaches -- namely Travis Ford, who is now at Saint Louis, Brad Underwood, who is now at Illinois, and current OSU coach Mike Boynton. Are any of them on the hot seat? Are they all on the hot seat? Two Adidas executives are also facing federal charges. So what happens if they start talking? Is every staff at every prominent Adidas school on the hot seat? And some Nike records have reportedly been subpoenaed. So is every staff at every prominent Nike school on the hot seat? And it would be naive to think Under Armour won't become a part of this story eventually, one way or another, given its rise in grassroots basketball in recent years. So is every staff at every prominent Under Armour school on the hot seat? And a scam-artist posing as an agent who was reportedly connected to all sorts of figures throughout the sport is also facing federal charges. Nobody knows what might happen if he starts talking. But, rest assured, he likely has stories to tell that could put any number of people on the hot seat.

Serious question: Who isn't on the hot seat right now? Honest answer: Only squeaky-clean coaches, probably. Which means the profession has never been more backwards. Big-time winners, possible Hall of Famers, have futures that are very much in doubt while traditional hot-seat candidates might be safe even after another subpar season because being an NCAA-compliant coach has never been more valued than it is during this time when 10 men connected to the sport are facing federal prison.

In normal times, losing is the worst thing a coach can do.

But these are not normal times.

Which is why the do-it-right guys might be OK.

Because it's the corner-cutting winners whose seats seem hottest.

CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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