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Coaches on the hot seat

Rutgers head coach Mike Rice reacts to play

Rutgers head coach Mike Rice reacts to play during the second half. (March 8, 2013) (Credit: AP)

The bloodletting in college basketball has begun as Longwood, Marist, Drake, Ball State and Buffalo will all have new coaches roaming the sidelines for the 2013-2014 season.

The latest of the moves was Buffalo’s Reggie Witherspoon, who was let go on Friday. Witherspoon ran the Bison program for 14 years. Longwood coach Mike Gillian also enjoyed a long tenure as the head man for 10 years.

The five aforementioned schools will not be the last to announce major moves as several other coaches figure to be moving on by choice or by force.

Everyone thought Rutgers coach Mike Rice was in trouble, but he got endorsement from AD Tim Pernetti earlier this week.

“I was a little surprised being asked (about Rice’s future) because I think it’s a non-story, but with all the things going on it was important to put it out there,” Pernetti told the New Jersey Press Media. “Certainly we haven’t seen the progress affect the win-loss column as much as we would like, but you can see that this is a team comprised primarily of young guys who are getting much better.”

Another job that could be in jeopardy is that of UCLA’s Ben Howland. Despite its impending NCAA appearance, rumors of Howland being in trouble have circulating for nearly 18 months.

Though no backdoor rumblings have been heard, Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard could also have problems. The Pirates started the season 12-2, but ended in a freefall and finished up at 15-18. In Willard’s defense, the Pirates are coming off a 21-win season in 2011-2012.

The Hofstra question is bound to come up, but Pride coach Mo Cassara just announced the final commitment of his recruiting class, 6-7 Gabe Levin of St. Thomas More. Can’t see any moves at Hofstra at this stage.

No other local coaches appear to be in any imminent danger, but you never know these days.

Nationally, Bob Cantu took over at USC during the season. No guarantee the interim label comes off, though. There are too many “name” coaches who might interested. DePaul’s Oliver Purnell has had a rough go of it. But he’s getting paid a ton of money and has four years left on his deal.