College basketball coaches are consistently under the microscope throughout the year. Talent on paper does not always translate to wins and when it doesn’t, the fans demand an explanation. The Big Ten has five teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 but the entire league from top to bottom is considered by many as the best in the nation. The joy of looking good on paper will only last a few more days for each team because once the season tips off, the coaches in the conference will have to answer pointed questions about team chemistry, injuries and player rotations. Every coach feels pressure, but the following are five coaches from the Big Ten who need to show results and have to meet fairly high expectations this season. Any issues on or off the court will be heavily scrutinized and they will feel the pressure for different reasons throughout the season.
- Tubby Smith: Even though Smith’s contract was extended through the 2016-17 season over the summer, his job security is not guaranteed after recent issues off the court with Trevor Mbakwe and Saul Smith. Even though Smith can’t be blamed directly for Mbakwe’s legal troubles, his son’s DWI is a bad mark on his ability to control the program. Minnesota’s athletic director has to be concerned with the negative press that the program has received over the past few months. Keep in mind that this program went through a period of probation from violations committed under former head coach Clem Haskins in the late ‘90s. It took years to recover from those penalties and Smith was brought in to lead the Gopher program back to relevance. Even though he has been able to recruit quality talent to Minneapolis, he has not been able to compile much consistency during his tenure. The injury bug has bitten his teams over the years but certain players did not mesh with the program and Smith has not been able to implement the proper amount of discipline to foster good team chemistry. Both Royce White and Devoe Joseph were expected to contribute for a couple of seasons but they left the program on a bitter note. At some point, Smith needs to have a season where he wins 24 games, competes for the conference title, and make a serious run to reach for the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. He has a talented squad this year and if his team continues to find turmoil and not make the postseason, he might be in trouble.