Madly Spins The Carousel: An Early Look At Coaches On The Hot SeatPosted by jstevrtc on February 28th, 2011
Walker Carey is an RTC contributor.
There is much uncertainty surrounding the status of several high profile coaches around the country. While Wyoming’s Heath Schroyer, Stetson’s Derek Waugh, Georgia State’s Rod Barnes, and Monmouth’s Dave Calloway have been the only head coaches this season to already receive their pink slips or be asked to step down, there are definitely more changes that will come at the end of the season. The challenging part of the coaching carousel is determining what coaches will be fired.
In an attempt to determine what coaches should be considered on the chopping block, one can rate a coach’s chance of dismissal by three criteria: (1) There must be considerable fan disdain, (2) There should be a degree of waffling administrative support, and (3) There must be a pattern of losing over an extended period of time. If a coach meets all three then a coaching change is extremely likely. If a coach meets two of the three there still exists a good chance that a change would be made. If a coach only meets one then it is a safe bet that he will be given more time to turn things around.
North Carolina State’s Sidney Lowe has been under scrutiny ever since taking the head coaching position with the Wolfpack. The school settled for Lowe after overtures to the likes of Rick Barnes, John Beilein, John Calipari, and Steve Lavin were rejected. Since taking the job, Lowe has not done much to ease the nerves of the Wolfpack faithful. In just short of five seasons in Raleigh, Lowe has compiled a dreadful 24-53 conference record. His squads have been unable to maintain any semblance of a rivalry with neighbors North Carolina and Duke, as the Wolfpack are 1-8 and 2-7, respectively, against their two major rivals. Another major item that is working against the fifth year head coach is that he has not led his squad to the NCAA Tournament once during his tenure and it is almost a lock that the Wolfpack will not be dancing this March.
While there has been fan disdain for Lowe throughout his tenure, the fan base has grown even more enraged this season. The NC State fan blog Backing the Pack has throughout the season complied a “Savior List” that takes an in-depth look at several different coaches throughout the nation with the hopes that one of them becomes the next leader of the Wolfpack. What should be even more troubling for Lowe is that this season he has yet to receive the same vote of confidence that he received from the school’s administration last February. Considering that Lowe’s situation appropriately meets all three criteria, one can conclude that NC State will be looking for a new coach at the end of the season.
Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight gained his position after his legendary father stepped aside in February of 2008. The younger Knight has struggled mightily since taking over the Red Raiders’ coaching reigns, compiling a very underwhelming 47-58 mark. During his tenure, Knight has only led the Red Raiders to one postseason appearance — an NIT berth in 2010. While Texas Tech is not known as a historic power, Bob Knight was able to take the team to four NCAA Tournaments in his six full seasons.
There have been rumblings among the Red Raider faithful regarding the future of Pat Knight. The overwhelming opinion is that Texas Tech administration remove Knight from his position at the end of the year. A popular rumor swirling around is that Tech should hand its coaching reigns over to Billy Gillispie, who was wildly successful at UTEP and Texas A&M, if you remember, before his disastrous tenure at Kentucky. Another thing that is working against Knight is that he has yet to receive any vote of confidence from Tech administration amid the speculation and the subpar season. Just like Sidney Lowe, if our criteria are correct then Knight will not return to the Red Raider sideline next season.
Arkansas’s John Pelphrey has continued the trend of not being able to appropriately replace legendary Razorback coach Nolan Richardson. Following Stan Heath’s disappointing five season tenure, Arkansas brought in then-South Alabama head coach Pelphrey to attempt to bring the Razorbacks back to national power status. After nearly four full seasons, however, Pelphrey has not been the answer for the former national power. He has only been able to take the Razorbacks to one postseason appearance — an appearance that ended in the second round in his first season at the helm. Along with subpar play on the court, there have been myriad conduct issues that have plagued the Razorback roster throughout Pelphrey’s tenure.
There has been a great deal of disdain among the Arkansas faithful directed at athletic director Jeff Long regarding the removal of Pelphrey. One blogger even penned a “Fire John Pelphrey Today” acrostic addressed to Long imploring him to dismiss his head coach. While Long has not publicly addressed Pelphrey’s status, there is a growing chance he will make a move due to the fact that he would not want to alienate the strong alumni base Arkansas possesses. Another piece of information that should be kept in mind when evaluating the status of the Arkansas head coach is that Heath was actually dismissed following consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt has the reputation of being a solid recruiter. During his tenure with the Yellow Jackets, he has secured the services of top recruits Chris Bosh, Iman Shumpert, and Derrick Favors. Despite his efforts on the recruiting trail, Hewitt has posted an abysmal 70-103 mark in ACC play. Despite his team’s struggles, Hewitt was able to lead the Jackets to the NCAA Championship Game in 2004; he has only been to the tournament an additional three times, though, since taking over for the 2000-2001 season. Even more troubling for Yellow Jacket fans is his inability to produce quality seasons when he possesses great talent. The careers of Bosh, Shumpert, and Favors have only resulted in a combined two tournament appearances and a finish no greater than fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
It is a known fact that the Ramblin’ Wreck fans have mostly turned on Hewitt, as there is a www.firehewiitt.com and a Fire Paul Hewitt twitter feed. Moreover, there was a poll in a January edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that asked readers who was more likely to turn around their respective program — Georgia football coach Mark Richt, Hewitt, both, or neither. The results showed that 47% of voters sided with Richt, 45% chose neither, only 6% settled on Hewitt, and 2% believe both will turn it around. While no Georgia Tech administrator has recently spoken in favor of Hewitt continuing next season, he may not be in much danger of losing his job, due to the fact that he would be owed at least $6.8 million if his contract is terminated. On the other hand, when evaluating Hewitt through the criteria, he should be terminated regardless of the hefty buyout.
The aforementioned coaches are all definitely feeling some heat in-terms of staying employed at their respective schools. An argument can definitely be made that all four should lose their jobs at the end of the season and, when considering the insight the criteria provides to the onlooker, all four should be removed from their positions. If one or more of these four are retained then it can be said that these programs are content with mediocrity and in some cases, inadequacy.