College Basketball Predictions: 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat This Season
The hottest of all hot seats in college sports is the seat in which just about every basketball coach that does not bring his team to the Final Four sits. But there are certain coaches who have an even hotter seat, a seat so hot that it seems like every decision they make is scrutinized.
These coaches are under overwhelming pressure not only to win but to win big and soon. Here are the 10 coaches facing this unique pressure heading into the 2011-12 season.
10. Bill Self
Even though Bill Self's regular season accomplishments are incredible, his postseason results (outside of 2008) are quite disappointing.
Self's Jayhawk teams have a tendency to always be the team that is getting upset by a mid-major team early in the tournament. To say that Jayhawk fans are getting a little tired of this is quite the understatement.
In order to please one of the hardest to please fan bases in America, Self needs to take a team that barely has top 25 talent to at least an Elite Eight appearance.
9. Ben Howland
Howland has two Final Fours during his tenure at UCLA.
But Howland also has two painful rebuilding seasons and a style of play that is more likely to put fans to sleep than bring back memories of the UCLA dynasty.
Howland not only needs to win big next season but he needs to bring back the style of play and swagger that defined the Wooden dynasty of the late '60s and '70s.
8. Trent Johnson
The John Brady era at LSU featured tons of talent, tons of drama and teams that occasionally lived up to the unrealistic expectations in Baton Rouge.
LSU hired Trent Johnson from Stanford because they thought he could do a lot better than Brady did. Instead, Johnson has brought in mid-major talent, managed to have even more drama and had only one of his teams exceed expectations.
LSU fans need to see lots of improvement or Johnson's job could be in jeopardy.
7. John Thompson III
The Thompsons and Georgetown seem like they cannot peak without a uniquely skilled big man or a transcendent point guard. The problem is that these kind of players do not come around every year or even every three years.
This has left Georgetown in an awkward spot of waiting for a star player to save them and meanwhile settling for mediocrity.
Thompson needs to move the Georgetown program forward and take advantage of his great recruiting base.
6. Rick Pitino
The Kentucky-Louisville rivalry can be considered more of an arms race than a rivalry.
When Kentucky had the leg up in the rivalry, Louisville decided to hire former legendary Kentucky coach Rick Pitino. When Kentucky's program was slipping, they thought they could match the success of the Louisville program by hiring John Calipari.
Kentucky has not only been able to match Louisville results but Calipari has seemingly dominated Pitino in just about every category. Calipari has had more on-court success, he has been the better recruiter, he has not had any off-court incidents and it has only taken him two years to go to a place where Pitino has not been in seven.
Even though Pitino just received a lucrative extension, the Cardinals would probably not shy away from bringing in a new weapon if he continues to underachieve
5. Rick Barnes
The Barnes problem at Texas is very similar to the Self problem at Kansas, except Barnes seems like he will never be able to win the NCAA National Championship that Self has.
Barnes is one of the best recruiters in the country, but his teams always seem to completely fall apart and it always seems like he has no idea what to do about it.
In the 2010 season, he had a team that was 11 deep but they ended up being an eight seed in the Big Dance, losing to Wake Forest in the first round. Last season, he took a team that was beating teams by 40 on national television and made them into a team that disappointed us all in the tournament.
Barnes has set up quite the recruiting base for Texas basketball and it is a base with which another coach might be able to do better.
4. Tubby Smith
When Minnesota hired Tubby Smith, they expected the Smith that guided Kentucky to 30-win seasons and SEC titles. What Minnesota has gotten is the Tubby Smith that barely got Kentucky into the tournament, was an apathetic recruiter and seemed to have trouble with players who were the most talented.
Smith seems to have brought his worst qualities from Kentucky over to Minnesota, a place that was not even close to Kentucky to begin with. Minnesota fans' unrealistic expectations might drive Smith out of Minnesota.
3. Rick Stansbury
Stansbury has done a great job getting great talent to Mississippi State, but he has never been able to get this great talent to mesh well together.
Stansbury seems to have a background that his players are constantly in rebellion against and this seems to set his teams up for failure before they even start.
This Mississippi State team is very talented but they need to mesh and be successful so Stansbury can keep his job.
2. Bruce Weber
Honestly, Weber is pretty lucky to still have a seat.
Weber has one of the most talented bases from which to recruit (Chicago), yet seemingly cannot score any of the highly rated prospects from this area and as a result cannot get his teams to perform well in the tournament (or even make it to the tournament).
Weber's lackluster recruiting, terrible in-game coaching and constant underachievement have landed him in a "win big or go home" situation for this upcoming season.
I personally think this is going to be Weber's last year.
1. Tom Crean
With how dreadful the Hoosiers have been the past couple of seasons, it is remarkable that their fans have even been able to feel false hope.
The Hoosiers have suffered terrible results on the basketball court, have been unable to recruit just about any highly rated prospects and have made what used to be one of college basketball's annual powerhouses completely irrelevant.
If the Hoosiers are not able to bring back some of that relevance this season (with at least a tournament appearance), the Crean era will be over and Hoosiers fans can have reasonable hope again.