Rating the Pac-12 Coaching Hot Seats

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 31st, 2013

As a whole, it is pretty easy to see that the Pac-12 is on an upswing, with talent abounding and more than half of the conference teams optimistic about their chances this season. But in four spots around the conference, there are coaches in dire need of success in order to keep their jobs. Last year at this time, there were six coaches whose seats we deemed at least warm. Of those six, two are now gone, while the other four remain seated on toasty chairs. We’ll take a look at those four coaches and tell you just how worried they should be about their jobs this season, then go through the other eight schools briefly and tell you the state of the head coaching position there.

Johnny Dawkins, Stanford – Scalding. Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir made it quite clear last season that, while Dawkins would be returning for his sixth season on The Farm, there would be heavy expectations – namely, make the NCAA Tournament or else, something that Stanford has failed to do since the year before Dawkins arrived. The good news for Dawkins is that he’s got a fine team. The bad news is that this fine team is made up of mostly the same players who limped home to a 19-15 record last season.

Dawkins' Challenge Is Clear: NCAA Tournament or Bust (AP)

Dawkins’ Challenge Is Clear: NCAA Tournament or Bust. (AP)

Ken Bone, Washington State – Scorching. Last spring, Bone had to wait almost three weeks after his season ended to finally get confirmation from athletic director Bill Moos that he would be returning to coach the Cougars in 2013-14. In four seasons on the Palouse, Bone has compiled a tepid 70-65 overall record, winning just 26 of WSU’s 72 conference games over that span. In fact, the only reason Bone may still be around for this year is that Moos’ predecessor gave Bone a seven-year contract that would have required a $2.55 million buyout. With all-conference type Brock Motum gone, Bone will need to get significant improvement out of a guard-dominated lineup in order to stick around past this season.

Craig Robinson, Oregon State – Sweltering. Robinson showed up in Corvallis in 2008-09 and immediately took a team that was 0-19 against Pac-10 opponents the year before (under Jay John) to a .500 overall record and conference relevance. Since that time, however, the Beaver program has been unable to turn the corner. There is some talent on this team, but unfortunately, in a year when Robinson really needs to win, two of those guys will start out the season serving suspensions. And, if this team winds up finishing around where we expect them to finish (somewhere south of ninth in the conference), the fact that Robinson has a marginally influential brother-in-law may not save him.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State – Toasty. Sendek begins his ninth season in Tempe. Quick quiz – how many times has a Sendek-coached Sun Devil team made the NCAA Tournament? Yeah, I thought it had been more than once also, but it has not. Thankfully, Sendek does have sophomore point guard Jahii Carson coming back for what everyone (including Carson and Sendek) believes will be his last year in college. But with Carson’s best running mate from last year, Carrick Felix, gone to the NBA, Sendek will have to find enough punch elsewhere on his roster to provide the help that Carson needs to get this team to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the contract extension that Sendek received in 2011, if ASU is NIT-bound or less, they could be searching for a new coach this offseason as well.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington – Warming. Scenarios where Romar is not coaching Washington in 2014-15 are hard to come by. But, after making three straight NCAA Tournaments in 2004-06 and then again in 2009-11, the Huskies are in danger this season of possibly missing the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season for the first time in Romar’s UW career. And with Romar swinging big but ultimately striking out on some recent high profile recruits, his tenure at Washington is somewhat tenuous. Still, let’s be clear: Romar ain’t going anywhere soon.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Lorenzo Romar’s Job Is Safe, For Now, But A Third-Straight Missed NCAA Tournament Would Put The Spotlight On Him. (Getty Images)

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah – Pleasant. For a coach who is just 21-43 overall and 8-28 in conference play in two years at a basketball-mad school, Krystkowiak still has plenty of leash. He inherited a program that was trashed and has had to completely rebuilt this roster from scratch. Utah fans and administrators understand this. And the fact that Krystkowiak has begun landing some talented homegrown recruits means that optimism is the theme of the day for the Utes.

Steve Alford, UCLA – Tingly. Let’s get this out of the way post haste: Alford is at UCLA for the foreseeable future; the terms of Alford’s contract guarantee that. Still, with an unsatisfactory opening to his UCLA career, a fan base that hasn’t shown itself to be all that reasonable, a couple of early strikeouts on the recruiting front and a guy across town creating some buzz, Alford will feel pressure to win immediately.

None of the rest of the coaches in the conference are even remotely in danger of losing their jobs. Really, if anything, guys like Andy Enfield and Dana Altman and Sean Miller and Tad Boyle are more likely to be hired away by other programs than they are to have their contracts terminated by their schools anytime soon. And then there’s Mike Montgomery, the dean of the Pac-12 coaches who, at age 66 and with nothing more to prove, might be the only guy in the conference with retirement somewhere on the nearing horizon. But don’t get too excited; he’s shown no indications of slowing down just yet.

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4 responses to “Rating the Pac-12 Coaching Hot Seats”

  1. Jim Basnight says:

    Mentioning Romar here, even if this self deprecating way, is completely wrong.

    To be blunt, Lorenzo is either the best coach or coach 1B to Mike Montgomery’s 1A.

    Sean Miller’s quality as a coach is more due to his recruiting network or mob (pick your choice). Altman is a solid coach, but also involved in that same game.

    This severely negates, almost disqualifies what they are doing.

    UCLA is the same, but on the Adidas side of that crooked street.

    Boyle is right there below Romar and Monty and in position to move up, but hasn’t been in the game as long to be rated quite that high.

    Romar and Monty have done it and done it the right way.

    In addition UW has committed to Lorenzo for upwards of 10 years in the future AND he is one year removed from his 4th straight conference title.

    The buy out to can him would be unreal and at this point his overall success at Washington is unprecedented.

    You could not be more wrong, then to be promoting this flawed thinking.

    All this does is provide non-factual fodder for misrepresentations on the recruiting trail.

    It’s Fox News style fact finding.

    Other than that, a very worthwhile and well done piece.

  2. If recruits are concerned what an RTC post says about a possible coach, I don’t know if you want that guy in your program.

  3. AMurawa says:

    Thanks for the comment Jim… But a couple of comments:

    1) I made it very clear in the post that Romar ain’t going anywhere soon. I’ve included Romar in this post because, well, I included every Pac-12 coach. And because every now and then I read things about how Romar’s job may be in jeopardy and I wanted to put that to bed a bit.

    2) The idea that Romar is in the conversation for best coach in the Pac-12 is just baffling to me. Like, I don’t get that even a little bit. And I like Romar.

    3) Eliminating recruiting from the qualities you would use to measure a coach is strange also. Recruiting is part of the job description – a very big part.

    In short, I stand by my post.

  4. Jim Basnight says:

    Thanks guys and you do a great job here. That’s why I commented, but I stand by my post too.

    The short sightedness, is what I’m really talking about. Add to that, the lack of facts about what school admins are actually considering and more importantly what it would be very unlikely for them to think.

    I know that you said that he is not going anywhere, so why include him?

    As I mentioned, UW won the outright conference title in 2009, the conference tourney in 2010 and 2011 and then the out right title in 2012 (they were defending champs this time last year).

    Speaking of out right, the NCAA snubbing them in 2012 was out right robbery.

    I get all of the stuff about what happens in November and December mattering, but that team was certainly validated in conference play to be a Big Dance selection.

    Anyone with eyes and any knowledge of the game could see that that young team got a lot better in the new year.

    As far as your comment Connor, don’t underestimate the power of the pen. What your article said, was similar to what Percy Allen of the Seattle Times said and now others are starting to mimic on the national scene.

    It’s just not true, is the central point here, but for some with an agenda it sounds good. I don’t mean to pick on conservatives, but like I said it’s Fox News facts.

    Say something untrue and baseless, then repeat it ad nausea as if it is a fact. Finally cite the preponderance of reports as evidence that it’s indisputable fact and common knowledge.

    Recruiting is a very big part of the game and one that has severely compromised it’s integrity. I think that you give a coach who plays by the rules a benefit of the doubt bump, as far as rating him, over one that does not.

    We’re talking about raw ability to evaluate, teach and coach, not who can swing best with those that are unethical and ultimately bad for the community.

    Ultimately a coach is a teacher and those are not good things to teach young people or demonstrate to the public, regardless to their plausible deniability.

    Just for the record, I forget to mention USC. Yeah he’s looking to do that too. You can say that what I am saying is baseless too, but it isn’t. I’m here to say it based on what I have evidence to support.

    You can say that what I’m doing is the same as what Allen of you guys did with echoing chatter without any official substance, but I disagree.

    My observations are the writings on the wall that are based on something. Ultimately those are the ones that have weight.

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