Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Hot Seat Head Coaches in Mid-December of 2023-24 season

Arkansas State v Louisville
Arkansas State v Louisville / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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Kenny Payne – Louisville

When Payne was hired by Louisville back in the spring of 2022, it seemed like a very sensible hire. Payne starred for the Cardinals back in the late 80’s before spending some time in the NBA. He had returned to the college game as a longtime assistant for Oregon and Kentucky before spending a pair of years assisting the New York Knicks. Payne, who had won a national title as an assistant with the Wildcats, seemed like the perfect hire for their rivals.

The hire has been one of the biggest disasters in the sport in recent memory. Last season, Louisville went just 4-28, losing a slew of very winnable games and turning in an embarrassing last place finish in the ACC. He was not fired after that first season and this year hasn’t been better. An exhibition loss to Kentucky Wesleyan was a bad omen and was soon followed by a double-digit home loss to Chattanooga. While they have narrowly avoided a few other upsets, picking up four wins already this year, this past Wednesdays’ home loss to Arkansas State by 12 points felt like a nail in the coffin.

There’s not much more that needs to be said here. Louisville was a fantastic program, cutting down the nets just a decade ago under Rick Pitino, but everything has fallen apart in the last half decade. The program didn’t live up to expectations under Chris Mack’s leadership but the bottom has just dropped out at this point. Louisville needs to turn the page, and they might need to dig deep into the checkbooks to fix the direction of this once-proud program.