Big Six Conference Coaches: On The Hot Seat Or Earning Their Keep?
I wonder if Mike Krzyzewski has ever been seriously concerned about losing his job. Has Tom Izzo ever been on that precipice? How about Jim Boeheim? Has Bill Self lost sleep over what his future holds?
Of course, they have never coached at Kentucky either, where current top man John Calipari has about two years left to win that championship before the Wildcat "faithful" run him out of town.
None of these guys really need to worry. Their win/loss records speak for themselves, as do the national championships. Many though, who don't have the brand name or the resources to recruit with the big boys struggle to first get, and then flourish at, that big-time job.
Since patience has been replaced by immediate expectation, many of those don't survive. Here's a look at some coaches who need to win or the torches and pitchforks will soon be out, and some who are earning their keep under tough circumstances.
Work to Do
John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines
Manny Harris is gone, which for Beilein is probably a good thing. The two clashed repeatedly during their years together. More prominently though, a third scorer to go with Harris and DeShawn Sims was never established. Beilein's offence and 1-3-1 defence worked at WV but he hasn't found the right mix here yet to make it work. This could be a very trying season, at a time when Beilein needs to build some momentum for the program.
Pat Knight, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Did someone say Sean Sutton? Totally unfair comparison, I know, but they have to do better than 4-12 in conference. Defence is the staple of top-notch teams and his have shown an alarming ability to defer in this area. Offensively, the Raiders have been decent but they need to figure it out on the other end. Being the son of a legend helps but Knight needs to establish himself soon.
Mick Cronin, Cincinnati Bearcats
Granted the program was a little untidy when he arrived, but he has had some talented teams that have underachieved. My biggest complaint is that they really didn't attack offensively with the weapons they had, specifically last year. Last year's team should have been a tournament team but instead faded as the year progressed. Losing Vaughn and Stephenson may be a blessing in disguise. Cronin has to get some cohesion, on both ends of the floor, or this could be another lost season.
Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech Hokies
Perpetual tourney snub, the Hokies need to make some noise this year. Yes, their record has been good the past couple of years but Seth, just a little suggestion:PLAY SOMEBODY IN THE NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE! You can tell by the block capital letters that I meant it. But seriously, this year's version of the ACC, outside of Duke, looks to be in a state of flux, so really, no more excuses, the opportunity to be near the top of the conference is there for the taking.
John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
Elite Eight? What is that nonsense? Really though, he's not on the hot seat, just won't be there very long.
Earning Their Keep?
Stan Heath, South Florida Bulls
Heath cashed in on coaching a ready-made team (Kent State) to the Elite Eight but has struggled in his next two stops. Arkansas was a disaster (and still is) while South Florida has been better. At one point last season, the Bulls were on the verge of entering the conversation (you know, the conversation) before lopsided losses to St. John's and Villanova sealed their fate. They did finish 9th in the conference, their best finish in the Big East by far, but lose Dominique Jones, Chris Howard and Mike Mercer. There is still hope though as Jarrid Famous and Augustus Gilchrist return to form a formidable inside-outside duo. If Heath can recruit he may be here for a while but one goes with the other. If this team can show something he may get some help. The Big East though, is still the Big East, but a top eight finish could be in the cards.
Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
With a team that had been together for a couple of seasons, Hewitt was in the national title game. Since then, virtually every impact player the Jackets have recruited has left early. This past season Derrick Favours and Gani Lawal left and were drafted. I suppose that is the nature of the beast, but Hewitt must be aging faster than most. Conversely, should he be looking to recruit three and four-year players? Probably not while he's in the ACC. Hewitt is a very good coach who, like any other good coach would benefit from continuity.
Jeff Capel, Oklahoma Sooners
Capel took the brunt of last year's fiasco head-on and he will be back, sooner (no pun intended) rather than later. Fortunately, the majority of players from last year's headache are gone. Unfortunately, Capel has some work to do. He has shown that he is not only willing but capable as well.
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