Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Ten Coaches On The Hot Seat

Posted by Zach on November 13, 2008

This season could be a make-or-break year for a number of high profile coaches working high-major positions. Whether it be flailing recruiting, an inability to win big games, recent postseason droughts or rocky relationships with administrators, these ten coaches desperately need a breakout season from their team in order to keep their job and avoid going the John Brady route. A fall from grace can happen suddenly and shockingly. These ten coaches should be looking over their shoulder if their squads get off to disappointing starts because they’re the perfect scapegoat.

1. Gary Williams, Maryland– This one saddens me because Williams is one of my favorites to watch on the sidelines sweat his way through another ACC nailbiter. He won a national championship in 2002 and has compiled a very impressive 397-215 in 20 seasons as Maryland’s head coach. The Terps will need a surprising year to avoid making the wrong postseason tournament, the NIT, four of the last five seasons. The backcourt of Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne will have to deliver. The Juan Dixon Era seems like centuries ago, doesn’t it Gary?

2. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State– Much like Williams, Hamilton needs to make the NCAA Tournament this season- and he probably doesn’t have the ammo to accomplish that goal. Toney Douglas and Chris Singleton are nice pieces, but in a strengthened ACC they’ll likely finish on the outside looking in. Hamilton routinely lures outstanding recruiting classes to Tallahasee with disappointing results. That equation means it’s fair to question his ability as an ACC coach.

3. Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall- It’s only Gonzalez’ third year at the helm of Seton Hall, but he hasn’t made too positive of an impression. Reports outline Gonzo sparring with his athletic director and rubbing many opposing coaches the wrong way with his immture antics. He’s also not delivering wins- 30-31 in two years- and failing to receive commitments from top NY/NJ area recruits. It’s a short leash for the former Manhattan coach this season before the Pirates simply move on.

4. Norm Roberts, Saint John’s– Roberts may be able to lease himself another year at the helm of the Johnnies with a Lance Stephenson committment, but St. John’s has to be close to firing the struggling Roberts. I picked them to finish dead last in the loaded Big East this season, and unless Anthony Mason and Justin Burrell have huge seasons, 16th seems like a realistic finish. That means Roberts 48-67 overall record won’t be improving any time soon.

5. Mark Gottfried, Alabama– I believe Alabama has a chance to have a very strong year with Steele healthy along with Green and Gee, but if Gottfried disappoints again, he could be shown the door in Tuscaloosa. His coaching stay has been mared by early exits in March. In the last two seasons, Alabama didn’t even get to the NCAA Tournament, settling for the NIT in 06-07 and no postseason in 07-08.

6. Ernie Kent, Oregon– Don’t be fooled by the recent contract extension Kent received from Oregon. That can be thrown in the garbage if Kent has a severe letdown season in Eugene. Many Oregon fans have long hoped Kent would be fired so they can lure Gonzaga coach Mark Few to the job. Kent did reach an Elite Eight just two seasons ago; he’ll need Tajuan Porter and Michael Dunigan to have huge years to reach the NCAA.

7. Tom Penders, Houston– Um, yeah. Losing to the Georgia Southern team I watched on Tuesday night cannot be a good sign for the Cougars prospects this season, which means Penders could finally be on the way out. Houston’s record under Penders isn’t terrible at 81-49, but the hype has yet to result in NCAA Tournament appearances- zero in four years at the helm. Houston fans believe their program can return to a respected power and the idea of Penders leading that charge seems increasingly remote.

8. Bill Carmody, Northwestern– Carmody was supposed to bring his Princeton offense over to the Big Ten and eventually make it work. Well, three years into his tenure and the Wildcats are 3-31 in conference play. His recruiting has been mostly lacking, also. This team has some intriguing parts that could reach NIT heights, but the long NCAA Tournament drought will likely have to wait another season. Will Carmody be there to see it happen?

9. Dennis Felton, Georgia– Felton literally saved his job during Georgia’s miraculous run through the crazy SEC Tournament. He would have been fired had Georgia not pulled off four straight. His team is picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC, which means the rumors about Felton being let go will once again make its way around Athens.

10. Ed Dechellis, Penn State– 57-92 overall and 19-63 in Big Ten play in five seasons in Happy Valley. The question isn’t: will Dechellis be fired after this season? It should be: why hasn’t Dechellis been fired yet? Unless he leads some absurd turnaround this year, this could be the end of his losing reign. Maybe Joe Paterno can coach from the press box?

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2 Responses to “Ten Coaches On The Hot Seat”

  1. picodulce said

    Jeff Lebo of Auburn.

    And Jerry Wainwright of DePaul may just be under consideration.

  2. Zach said

    Yes, those are two coaches I considered but barely missed the 10 cut.

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