Coaches on the hot seat


By Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish | College Basketball Insiders

The Pac-12 will not be college basketball's best league this season.

But it might be the most intense.

Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman realized this when they started trying to come up with their annual list of Coaches on the Hot Seat. They went through the leagues, bounced thoughts off each other and concluded that six of the 12 spots will be occupied by Pac-12 coaches, meaning half of the Pac-12's coaches have warm bottoms. That's a tough way to live, man.

But what does it mean?

Well, it should be noted that five of the 12 coaches Parrish and Goodman placed on the Hot Seat last preseason are no longer coaching at the same schools (or at all, in some cases), and that three of the seven survivors are on this preseason's list, too. Add it up, and you'll find that only four men on last preseason's list -- Indiana's Tom Crean, Missouri's Frank Haith, UMass' Derek Kellogg and USF's Stan Heath -- did enough to survive or remove themselves from consideration. So congrats to them.

And, of course, good luck to this preseason's Coaches on the Hot Seat.

(Coaches listed in alphabetical order)

Coaches on the Hot Seat
Ken Bone
Washington State

Bone can blame Tony Bennett for being on this list because Bone's predecessor was responsible for lofty expectations. Bennett was 69-33 in three seasons with the Cougars and went to a Sweet 16 in 2008. Bone has been mediocre at best in Pullman with a 22-32 Pac-12 mark in a league that's been down since his arrival from Portland State. He likely needs better than the eighth-place finish and CBI berth from a year ago. -- Jeff Goodman

Ben Braun

It appeared as though Braun had finally turned the corner at Rice, but then came the mass exodus. Five players left -- including star forward Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred to Oregon. Omar Oraby (USC), Dylan Ennis (Villanova), Jarelle Reischel (URI), David Chadwick (Valpo) and Ahmad Ibrahim (overseas) bolted as well. Now, a group that was expected to take the next step from a .500 conference mark will slide back down toward the bottom of C-USA -- where Braun was the first three years of his tenure. -- Jeff Goodman

Jeff Bzdelik
Wake Forest

It was one of those head-scratchers when Ron Wellman hired Bzdelik from Colorado to replace Dino Gaudio. Sure, Bzdelik had spent a few years as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, and he was successful in a brief stint at Air Force. But his record from 2007-10 at the University of Colorado was 36-58. He has dealt with plenty of off-court issues since taking the job at Wake, and Gaudio probably deserves some of the credit for that, but Bzdelik needs to turn the corner after only 21 victories in his first two seasons with the Demon Deacons. -- Jeff Goodman

Bill Carmody

What would a Hot Seat list be without an appearance from Carmody? The 60-year-old from New Jersey has spent 12 seasons at Northwestern, lost more games than he's won and finished higher than seventh in the Big Ten only once. Yes, Carmody has made four straight NITs, and that's OK. But at what point does Northwestern strive to be something more than the only power-conference school to never make an NCAA tournament? -- Gary Parrish

Johnny Dawkins

Now entering his fifth season in Palo Alto, the former Duke star and Blue Devils assistant is still searching for his first NCAA tournament appearance. His overall record (75-59) is solid, but his league mark is only 30-42. The Cardinal are coming off a 26-11 record last season and have the talent to go dancing, and that's exactly what Dawkins needs to cool off his seat. -- Jeff Goodman

Travis Ford
Oklahoma State

Ford started his tenure at OSU with a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. However, the last two years have been rough -- an NIT in 2011 and a 15-18 mark last season despite having one of the nation's most heralded freshmen in Le'Bryan Nash. Ford's seat should cool with the duo of Nash and Marcus Smart. But if he doesn't get the Cowboys dancing, super-booster T. Boone Pickens could open his wallet and demand a change. -- Jeff Goodman

Ben Howland

Who would have ever thought Howland would land on this list? Hard to believe, but that's where it's at over in Westwood. He had it rolling from 2006 to 2008, when he led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Four appearances. However, it's been a struggle over the past three years -- going to only one NCAA tournament and finishing in the top four in the Pac-12 only once. He has brought in arguably the nation's best freshman class, but that means he'll have to produce -- and Shabazz Muhammad's playing status remains in question because of an injury and an NCAA investigation. -- Jeff Goodman

Alan Major

The 49ers once made five NCAA tournaments in seven seasons during the Bobby Lutz era, but those days are gone now. Major went 2-14 in his first year in the Atlantic 10, 5-11 last season. He's finished 13th and 11th and is picked to finish 12th this season. If that happens, it'll be interesting to see whether the same school that fired Lutz after a fifth-place finish in the A-10 gives Major a fourth season in charge. -- Gary Parrish

Kevin O'Neill

The moment USC hired a no-nonsense athletic director it was fair to start wondering how long O'Neill would last, and last season's 6-26 record didn't do much to resolve things. To be clear, O'Neill is a trip to talk with; I find him hilarious. But can a man with such a strong personality on and off the court survive another awful season when his boss is fairly straight-laced? Here's hoping K.O. wins enough so we don't have to find out. -- Gary Parrish

Craig Robinson
Oregon State

Robinson was named the head coach at Oregon State only a few months before his brother-in-law became President of the United States, and the attention that demanded worked to Robinson's advantage early on. But now some of that novelty has worn off, and what's left is a coach with a 27-45 record in Pac-12 games through four years. So as President Obama waits for Election Day to see whether he'll get four more years in the White House, Robinson must be wondering whether he'll get two more at Oregon State. He might need to show improvement this season to ensure that's the case. -- Gary Parrish

Herb Sendek
Arizona State

Sendek won 25 games in his third season with the Sun Devils, but it's been a steady decline in Tempe since James Harden left for the NBA. Arizona State finished 22-11 three years ago, 12-19 two years ago and 10-21 last season. Things should get better this season thanks to heralded recruit Jahii Carson. But if they don't, well, you know. -- Gary Parrish

Tubby Smith

There aren't many coaches more respected than Smith, but the bottom line is the bottom line, and the bottom line hasn't been great lately. Smith has lost twice as many Big Ten games as he's won the past two years while missing the NCAA tournament, and he's never finished better than sixth in five years at Minnesota. Combine that with the off-the-court problems -- a player and an assistant both were charged with DUIs this offseason -- and it's reasonable to wonder whether another lackluster season might encourage new athletic director Norwood Teague to consider another direction. -- Gary Parrish


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