Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A look at the BCS coaches missing the cut

I’m flying to Minnesota for the Michigan St. and Kansas pods. Much like the Old Spice Classic, it seems unlikely I will update the blog until I return, but you never know.

John Gasaway is all over the log5 analysis at Basketball Prospectus. Check it out for those of you who want help with your brackets. For whatever reason, I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about the NCAA tournament games ahead of time. I like to let the tournament unfold and be surprised.

But what I have been thinking about is the possibility of coaching vacancies. John Gasaway recently wrote how their might be few vacancies this year besides Alabama and Georgia. Well, we did get one new vacancy on Monday. Andy Katz is reporting that Dave Leitao is out as coach at Virginia.

Is Leitao the last candidate to be let go? Let’s look at the BCS schools that didn’t make the tournament and render some judgments on their coaches. Realistically I should limit this to coaches with at least 4 years tenure, but given the situation in Kentucky, that rule may not apply anymore.

Big East

Georgetown – Obviously JT3 is safe, but with a talented team, the finishing stretch definitely raised some eyebrows.

Notre Dame – High expectations and a miserable performance make this about the worst possible season for Mike Brey. I’ve never been a big believer in Brey based on his team’s historical unwillingness to play defense, and I have to believe at some point this is going to cost him.

St. John’s – Norm Roberts had a very young team this year that seemed to be playing better late in the year. (Besides the Georgetown wins, they gave a spirited effort in a comeback against Duke.) Roberts has been at St. John’s long enough that you wouldn’t be surprised to see him let go, but this doesn’t seem like the year.

DePaul – They kept talking during the Big East tournament about how Jerry Wainwright was safe, but how can a coach with zero Big East wins in the regular season be safe? I don’t see how DePaul winning a game in the Big East tournament is enough to be viewed as progress. Remember how Georgia coach Dennis Felton kept his job thanks to an SEC tournament run last year? Now he’s unemployed.

Cincinnati – Cincinnati finished about where you might expect in a tough league and should bring back Deonta Vaughn next year. Assuming that happens, next year will be more of a litmus test for Mick Cronin.

Seton Hall – Bobby Gonzalez seems to be finding himself in about the same position that Tim Welsh did a few years ago. They were good enough to beat USC and Virginia Tech early in the year, good enough to beat some bad Big East teams, but not good enough to inspire any confidence.

Rutgers – Fred Hill brought in freshman McDonald’s All-American Mike Rosario this year and the question is whether he can build a team around Rosario into the future. Rutgers is a tough place to win, but the team showed shockingly little progress this year.

South Florida, Providence – With Stan Health adding a lot of transfers mid-year, and Keno Davis not bringing in any of his recruits until next year, it is too early to evaluate things here.


Georgia Tech – Paul Hewitt was definitely unlucky this year (in a Pomeroy Ratings sense) and he is bringing in one of the top high school players in the country next year in Derrick Favors. So Hewitt is probably safe. But remember, Georgia Tech hasn’t had a winning record in the ACC since 2004. Of course, that just happens to be the year they went to the Final Four.

Miami – In 5 seasons under Frank Haith, Miami has yet to have a winning record in conference play. Miami qualified for the tournament at 8-8 last year and won a game, so it hasn’t been all bad. But at this stage of the game, he’s using all players he recruited, and if they aren’t good enough to get it done (including an embarrassing loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament), he can no longer feel safe.

Virginia Tech – Seth Greenberg also has only one NCAA tournament win in 6 years and only two winning conference marks. But I feel completely different about his teams because they seem to compete at the highest level even with a very limited talent base. Basically his job security comes down to this: Could someone else bring elite talent to Blacksburg? If so, then Greenberg might be shoved aside at some point. But if no one can do better, Greenberg really seems to maximize what he has. Also, it isn’t clear to me whether throwing your jacket after you lose to North Carolina endears you to the fanbase or makes you look out of control.

NC State – Sidney Lowe was a puzzling non-college hire. NC State fans are already jealous that Herb Sendek has taken Arizona St. to the NCAA tournament, and Lowe’s clock is definitely running.

Big 12

Baylor – Scott Drew had a similar year to Mike Brey, but a win against Texas in the Big 12 tournament, the first in 24 tries, should lead some Baylor fans to give Drew the benefit of the doubt.

Iowa St. – Former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott might have made Iowa St. more successful in the state of Iowa, but at what point are the Cyclones going to be relevant nationally?

Nebraska - Doc Sadler did enough this year. He won some nice home games and got Nebraska to 8-8 in what was predicted to be a down year.

Kansas St. – Frank Martin’s team performed admirably without Michael Beasley. But can they make the tournament next year?

Colorado, Texas Tech – Jeff Bzdelik and Pat Knight are new enough that they are going to get some time to bring in their recruits.

Big 10

Penn St. – Obviously Ed DeChellis saved his job this year. But the key will be lowering expectations next year, because many of the stars not named Talor Battle will not be back.

Northwestern – I don’t know how Bill Carmody kept his job heading into this year, so obviously he isn’t losing it now.

Indiana – Tom Crean proved he could coach this year as the Hoosiers continued to play hard all year. And pretty soon he’s going to have some players too.

Iowa – Todd Lickliter’s crew could be a trendy pick to finish last in the Big 10 next year. It is too early for him to be fired, but Iowa needs some reason for optimism.

Pac 10

Oregon – Expectations were lower this year at Oregon due to a number of key players graduating. But were they 2-16 low? Is Jamil Wilson enough of a recruit to keep the faith? Much like Mike Brey, Ernie Kent’s teams never seem to play enough defense for me to believe in him.

Washington St. – Tony Bennett’s team seemed to play better later in the year. After losing several players to graduation, there was nothing embarrassing about an 8-10 campaign.

Stanford, Oregon St. – Johnny Dawkins and Craig Robinson can bring in their first full recruiting classes next year.


Florida – Back to back titles, back to back NIT. Billy Donovan’s coaching career has been nothing if not inconsistent. But who wouldn’t take occasional NIT bids for 2 National Titles?

Arkansas – Beating Texas and Oklahoma in the non-conference might have been the worst thing that could have happened to John Pelphrey.

South Carolina – Darrin Horn’s team seems to be making progress and was very exciting to watch this year with the increased tempo.

Vanderbilt – Kevin Stallings seems to put his team in the field every few years. This year was a miss, but they still finished 8-8 in the SEC.

Auburn – I really thought Jeff Lebo was going to be gone this year as he was 19-45 in SEC play coming into this year. But the late run might have saved his job.

Ole Miss – In 3 years at Ole Miss and 1 year at Cincinnati, Andy Kennedy has never finished above .500 in conference play. Given the weakness of the SEC this year, that hurts. Plus there was that whole cab driver incident.

Kentucky – Hmm, they didn’t make the NCAA tournament despite having the most rabid fans in the country. This could sting a little bit.

Other Notable

Southern Illinois – Remember when Chris Lowery was a hot commodity? What a huge step backward this year.

George Washington – Remember a few years ago when Karl Hobb’s team went 26-2 in the regular season? This year they didn’t even qualify for the A-10 tournament.

Truthfully, I don’t see a lot more changes across the board. But the dominoes are just beginning to fall.