College Hoops’ Top 10 BCS Coaching Hot Seats
10. Johnny Dawkins (Stanford)
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It’s not just the competition that’s heating up in advance of March Madness. This season, several coaches have endured a decline in performance, unfulfilled expectations or both and could soon find themselves out of a job. With that, we rank the Top 10 BCS Coaches on the Hot Seat.
Dawkins guided the Cardinal to 26 wins and the NIT championship last season but hasn’t been able to recapture that magic in 2012–2013 with a 16-13 record (7-9 in the Pac-12). That can partially be chalked up to inexperience, as Stanford counts just one senior among its 15-man roster. But if Dawkins still can’t lead his team to a berth in the Big Dance after five years at the helm, his time in Palo Alto might be running short.
He’d be just the latest member of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching tree to fall short of expectations after branching out on their own.
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9. Mike Rice (Rutgers)
Now in his third year, Rice was lucky to get away with just a three-game suspension and not be fired altogether for “inappropriate language and behavior” back in December - “behavior” that included throwing balls at players’ head. Rutgers’ play since then suggests that the team has already checked out on this season.
Since Rice’s first game back from his suspension, on Jan. 2 at Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights have gone 4–11 and are 13–13 on the season. They’ve broken the 70-point barrier just twice since the New Year and are, once again, near the bottom of the Big East standings.
Rutgers has high hopes for its hoops program as it prepares to join the Big Ten in 2014 and renovate its home court, the RAC. The chances that Rice is still around to see all this happen are slim to none.
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8. Ken Bone (Washington State)
After leading mid-major Portland State to back-to-back NCAA tournament berths in 2008 and ’09, Bone was brought in to Pullman to try and keep up the strong work Tony Bennett had done in transforming the Cougars into a very respectable program before leaving for Virginia. So far, not so good.
With a 2–13 conference record (11–17 overall), Wazzu is last in the Pac-12. The Cougars possess one of the worst offenses in the country, both in terms of scoring (262nd with 63.6 PPG) and field goal percentage (227th at 42.2%).
Bone signed a seven-year contract with Washington State upon being hired in 2009. As things currently stand, he’ll only make it through Pullman for four of them.
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7. Steve Donahue (Boston College)
Donahue’s arrival at The Heights in April 2010 — fresh off leading Cornell to an unforgettable run to the Sweet Sixteen — breathed new excitement into a program that had gotten stale under predecessor Al Skinner. That carried Donahue through his first season, in which the Eagles won 21 games and finished tied for fourth in the ACC.
Alas, 21 is also the number of wins BC has in the past two seasons combined. Donahue and Co. went just 9–22 last year and are tied for second to last in the ACC this season with a 4–11 conference record (12–16 overall).
Worse for Donahue is the apathy for his program among local fans. An 8,600-seat arena never looked as empty as Conte Forum did on Feb. 19 when, for a time, one BC supporter had the entire student section of seats to himself.
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6. Craig Robinson (Oregon State)
With his famous brother-in-law, Barack Obama, in the White House, Robinson seemed to be succeeding with a rebuilding project of his own in Corvallis, OR. After starting the year 10–3 — including a hard-fought loss to Kansas — things were looking up for Robinson and the Beavers, who reached the CBI semifinals last season.
Then came Pac-12 play. Oregon State hasn’t had problems scoring (72.7 PPG), they’ve just been unable to prevent their opponents — only three of whom haven’t scored 70 or more against the Beavers in conference play — from doing so. As a result, Oregon State is 13–15 overall and 3–12 in the Pac-12.
It’s Robinson’s and the Beavers’ fifth straight year with a losing record in Pac-12 play. While Robinson is extremely likeable and classy, five seasons in Corvallis with just three CBI appearances to show for it speaks for itself.
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5. Ben Howland (UCLA)
At most schools, a 21-7 record would be cause for celebration. UCLA isn’t one of those schools. The Bruins started the year as the preseason No. 13 in the country with blue-chip recruits Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad in charge of leading UCLA back to the Final Four.
After leading UCLA to three straight Final Fours between 2006 and ‘08, it looked like Howland would be in Westwood for as long as he liked. But he hasn’t been past the second round of the tournament since then and missed the Big Dance altogether in two of the past three seasons. With UCLA underachieving this season, tensions are again high in Pauley Pavilion.
If Howland misses the tournament this March, he won’t be around this fall.
4. Bill Carmody (Northwestern)
Carmody deserves some credit. The Wildcats’ coach since 2000, he is the second-winningest coach in school history, has made the Wildcats respectable in a perennially tough Big Ten and guided the team to four straight berths in the NIT.
Sadly, the chances of Carmody running that streak to five look slim. Northwestern is 13–15 on the season, having been undone by an offense near the bottom of the NCAA rankings in PPG (305th at 61.1) and an inability to rebound (310th at 31.1 RPG). The season-long absence of injured star Drew Crawford certainly hurts in this regard, but it shouldn’t hurt this much.
Also troubling is that a school on the outskirts of hoops-mad Chicago has just three Windy City products on its roster. And at 61 years old, Carmody isn’t getting any younger. Don’t be surprised if Northwestern elects to go with someone younger in an effort to breathe new life into the only BCS program never to reach the Big Dance.
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3. Jeff Bzdelik (Wake Forest)
Bzdelik is in his sixth year as the coach of a BCS conference school. And he’s in danger of enduring his sixth straight losing season. Why he’s been considered employable in that regard — first at Colorado and now at Wake — is anyone’s guess.
After a pair of last-place finishes in ACC play during Bzdelik’s first two seasons in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest has “improved” to 5–9 in 2012–2013 — good for eighth place in the 12-team league. Bzdelik’s best hope if he wants to keep his job is that Saturday’s upset of No. 2 Miami (FL) will prevent Demon Deacons fans and administrators from calling for his head.
Our thought is that if Bzdelik is allowed to retain his job for one more season, he can do so under the condition that he replace his entire collection of ugly ties.
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2. Oliver Purnell (DePaul)
That Purnell is being paid $1.8M for coaching the worst program in the Big East is one of college basketball’s great mysteries. Especially considering that he makes more than either Roy Williams ($1.7M) or Jim Boeheim ($1.5M).
Purnell’s troubles with the Blue Demons primarily stem for his inability to recruit Chicago, as just four current DePaul players hail from the area. But his other shortcomings as a coach date back to his time at Clemson, where he was perpetually on the hot seat before taking the DePaul job. In Chicago, Purnell has won a total of six Big East games in three seasons.
If the Blue Demons want to avoid being the redheaded stepchild of the new league it’s forming with the Big East’s other Catholic schools, cutting their losses with Purnell should be the first step.
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1. Rick Barnes (Texas)
Barnes’ fall from grace, while not as publicized and talked about within the Longhorns community as football counterpart Mack Brown’s, has been just as swift.
As recently as 2008, Texas was an Elite Eight team — part of a decade-long run in which the Longhorns advanced to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond five times. Alas, Texas hasn’t been past the first weekend of the Big Dance since then. And at 13–15 in 2012–2013, it might miss out on the postseason altogether.
These struggles casts an unfavorable light on Barnes’ $2.4M salary as well as his inability to maximize the returns on his annual batch of talented recruits. With message board posts like this becoming all-too-common, it also makes his seat the hottest among all BCS conference coaches.
We will soon find out if athletic director DeLoss Dodds continues to stick behind Barnes despite popular opinion like he’s done with Brown.
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