After a year in which the Pac-12 regular season champion failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, none of the programs in the league made a coaching change.
That’s partly a testament to some of the new coaches in the league or the built up credibility for some of the others. But it was a mild surprise after the entire league struggled en masse for another season.
It’s no surprise, then, that a handful of Pac-12 coaches are under pressure in 2012-13. The coaches at Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford all made our list of top coaches on the hot seat, but they aren’t alone who must win now.
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13
Impact Transfers for 2012-13
10 COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
Ben Braun, Rice
The expectations for the basketball program at Rice aren’t particularly high, but the Owls made news for reasons that aren’t great for the basketball program. Braun has endured a rash of player transfers, not least of which Arsalan Kazemi to Oregon. Kazemi was one of Conference USA’s top players, but he joined David Chadwick (Valparaiso), Dylan Ennis (Villanova), Omar Oraby (USC) and Jarelle Reischel (Rhode Island) in leaving Houston. The former Cal coach Braun is coming off his first winning season and postseason appearance at Rice, but the departures are troubling.
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
Bzdelik has only been on the job for two seasons, but Wake Forest is a combined 21–42 overall and 5–27 in the ACC during that span. The five league wins are the fewest in a two-year period for Wake since ’86-87 and ’87-88, when Bob Staak guided the Deacs to a 5–23 record. The talent level is on the upswing — Wake’s incoming recruiting class is ranked No. 25 nationally by Scout.com — but Bzdelik must show significant progress to ensure that he will be around to coach this group as it matures.
Bill Carmody, Northwestern
Northwestern clearly has raised its level of competitiveness in the Big Ten under Carmody’s watch, but the bottom line is that he has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in 12 seasons at the school. The Cats have won 30 league games over the past four years — the most in a four-year stretch since ’58-61 — but each season has ended in the NIT. John Shurna, one of the best players in school history, graduated in the spring, but there is enough talent on the returning roster to keep Northwestern relevant. At some point, Carmody will have to get his program over the hump.
Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Stanford hasn’t been bad in Dawkins’ four years on the The Farm, but the program has clearly dropped a few notches down the food chain out West. Consider the following: The Cardinal had 15 straight winning Pac-10 seasons prior to Dawkins’ arrival. They’ve only had one in his four years (last season). Also, Stanford made the NCAA Tournament 13 times in the 14 years before he was hired. It’s made none since.
Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Ford’s seat is best described as warm. He did well early, guiding the Cowboys to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in ’09 and ’10 but is a combined 13–21 in the league over the last two seasons. Expectations are high this season, which is a good thing. But if those lofty expectations aren’t met, Ford will be in must-win mode in ’13-14.
Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss
Give Kennedy credit: He’s remarkably consistent. In each of his seven seasons as a head coach (six at Ole Miss and one at Cincinnati), his teams have gone either 7–9, 8–8 or 9–7 in league games. Another word for consistent (in this case) — average. Kennedy’s teams are never bad — he’s had a winning record in all seven season — but none has been good enough to crash the NCAA Tournament.
Oliver Purnell, DePaul
It might be a bit premature to put Purnell — who inherited a brutal situation at DePaul — on the hot seat after two seasons, but it’s tough to overlook that he has won a total of four Big East games and has finished all alone in 16th place in two straight seasons. Purnell is a proven winner who appears to be a good fit at DePaul, but he will be expected to show significant progress in his third season at the school.
Craig Robinson, Oregon State
It’s kind of cool that Oregon State’s coach is the brother-in-law of the President of the United States. You know what would be cooler? If he started winning more games. The Beavers are 61–70 overall and 27–45 in the Pac-12 with three trips to the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament under Robinson. There is no doubt OSU has improved — the school won a total of 16 league games in the four years prior to Robinson’s arrival — but he will expected to make the NCAA Tournament some time in the next few seasons.
Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Sendek had seemingly turned the corner at Arizona State, with three straight 20-win seasons (including two straight winning Pac-10 seasons) from ’07-08 through ’09-10, but the Sun Devils are a combined 22–40 overall and 10–26 in the Pac-12 over the last two years. And things don’t appear to getting better any time soon. Sendek will have a tough time surviving another bad season in Tempe.
Tubby Smith, Minnesota
Smith is one of the most respected coaches in the nation, but his tenure at Minnesota has been a disappointment. The Gophers have a 38–49 record in the Big Ten in his five seasons, highlighted by back-to-back 9–9 records in ’08-09 and ’09-10. Smith has had to deal with some significant personnel issues (Royce White got into legal trouble and ended up starring at Iowa State) and injuries (Trevor Mbakwe tore his ACL last season), but he wasn’t hired to be a .500 (at best) coach in the Big Ten.
More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.
Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
8. Ohio State
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
19. Notre Dame