8 College Basketball Coaches Facing Make-or-Break Seasons in 2012-13
The hot seat. Every fan knows the term, every coach looks to avoid any association with the word. Coaches that find themselves on the "hot seat" are faced with enormous amounts of pressure to succeed.
All coaches feel the pressure of succeeding for their respective schools. But when a college basketball coach is facing a make-or-break season, they are on the hot seat. A prosperous season will remove any "hot seat" considerations, while another season of failing to reach expectations will only excite the discussion.
For some schools, mediocrity is enough. The occasional NCAA tournament bid will keep fans happy. Other programs expect NCAA tournament wins, not just appearances.
In both scenarios, a coach could be fired if they fail to meet those expectations. These eight coaches will feel their seat heating up if they do not succeed. Some may be out the door if improvements are not made.
Let's take a look at eight coaches that are facing make-or-break seasons in 2012-13.
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
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It is hard to believe that Wake Forest was a number one team just three years ago. In 2010-11, Jeff Bzdelik took over as head coach and sent Wake Forest to the ACC cellar, going 8-24 and 1-15 in conference play.
This was one of the worst seasons in recent memory for the Demon Deacons, and certainly was not the way Bzdelik envisioned his inaugural season playing out.
Year two for Bzdelik was not much better. With a record of 13-18 and 4-12 in conference, improvement was made, but Wake Forest fans expect more. This may be the last year Bzdelik has to prove he is taking the program in the right direction.
Bill Carmody, Northwestern
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Bill Carmody has coached at Northwestern for 12 years. He has made the NIT in three of the last four years and has led the Wildcats to its only two 20-win seasons.
But with standout senior John Shurna next season, will Carmody continue his streak of success? Northwestern has wallowed in mediocrity in the challenging Big Ten for a majority of Carmody's 12 years as head coach.
Should Northwestern fans expect more? An NIT loss to Washington was far from an ideal sendoff for Shurna, one of the most memorable Wildcats to date.
Carmody needs to retain his recent success to keep his seat cool next season.
Billy Gillispie, Texas Tech
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Billy Gillispie took the place of Pat Knight last season and led Texas Tech to an abysmal 8-23 (1-17) record. Knight took the Lamar Cardinals to the NCAA tournament last year. That might sting some Red Raider fans.
I will not throw Gillispie on the hot seat just yet, but like Jeff Bzdelik, he has not done himself any favors. If Gillispie can put together a solid season in 2012-13, he can resurrect Texas Tech and his coaching career.
Gillispie has a wealth of recruits and transfers joining him next season (you can check them out on ESPN.com), although it is uncertain how well they will perform in the new-look Big 12.
Here's to hoping Gillispie wins more than one conference game next season.
Ben Howland, UCLA
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It goes without saying that Ben Howland is facing a make-or-break season in 2012-13. With one of the top recruiting classes in the country, along with key returnees like David and Travis Wear, Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb.
What are legitimate expectations for this UCLA team? A top-10 finish, Pac-12 championship and Sweet 16 appearance is certainly reachable for this talented team.
Howland has three consecutive Final Four's to his name during his time at UCLA, but in a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world, Howland's resume drops. In the past three seasons, UCLA has only one NCAA tournament appearance.
UCLA fans will expect much, much more from the 2012-13 team. There are no excuses for Howland if he fails to reach the Big Dance next year.
Kerry Keating, Santa Clara
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Santa Clara went 0-16 in the West Coast Conference last year. With a single recruit joining the fray in 2012-13, Kerry Keating may find it difficult to climb out of the bottom of the WCC.
Granted, Keating will return a youthful core of players next season. Marc Trasolini will be back for the Broncos next year and will provide a much-needed winning attitude.
Keating needs improvement. The WCC is one of the best mid-major conferences in the nation, but that is no excuse for an 0-16 season. Wins over New Mexico and Villanova in non-conference play last year were the lone bright spots for an under-performing team and coach.
Andy Kennedy, Mississippi
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Six seasons, zero NCAA tournament appearances. While Andy Kennedy has more wins than any other Ole Miss head coach in a six-year span, he has yet to bring the Rebels to the Big Dance (via OleMissSports.com).
Kennedy is an above-average recruiter for a school that has little basketball history. Seniors Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner are two of the best rebounders in the SEC, a trait that earns plenty of minutes in Kennedy's system.
With zero NCAA tournament appearances, however, Ole Miss faithful may be getting restless. Kennedy has consistently led his teams to the bubble, but never further. If that does not change soon, he may be out the door.
Kevin O'Neill, USC
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I'm not sure which statistic is worse: 1-17 in conference play or 343rd (that is second-to-last in all of Division I) in points and rebounds per game.
Kevin O'Neill is known for his coaching style: slow paced and defense oriented. That may be what he is comfortable with, but it will not win over fans and it certainly will not attract recruits.
O'Neill will be entering his fourth season as USC head coach this fall. He had the Trojans dancing just one year ago, but injuries, early departures and NCAA sanctions have crushed a once-promising program.
In 2012-13, O'Neill needs improvement. One conference win is unacceptable for one of the most well-known universities in the United States.
Herb Sendek, Arizona State
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Herb Sendek did a great job building the Arizona State program from 2007-10. Three 20-win seasons in a row put ASU on the map.
Unfortunately, expectations accompany accomplishment. Sendek has failed to meet those expectations in the past two years, going 12-19 in 2010-11 and 10-21 in 2011-12. Arizona State has not made the NCAA tournament under Sendek's tenure without one player—James Harden.
Sendek may not have the pressure to win like Ben Howland at UCLA, but he is pressured to stay relevant, particularly in the Pac-12. Finishing in the bottom three in the conference two years in a row hurts.
If Sendek wants to keep his seat cool, he will avoid making it three straight years near the bottom of the Pac-12.