Regular readers know that this blog loves to follow "hot seat" conversation - those men's basketball coaches whose efforts to maintain and improve their programs fall so short of expectations that they are on the verge of losing their coaching positions.
Jeff Goodman has a list of coaches on the hot seat to kick off conversation with DePaul's Jerry Wainwright first, followed by NC State's Sydney Lowe, St. John's Norm Roberts, Oregon's Ernie Kent, Fordham's Dereck Whittenburg, and Southern Methodist's Matt Doherty. Rutgers' Fred Hill makes the list at 8; Seton Hall's Bobby Gonzalez checks in at 11.
That is 4 Big East coaches there; and the others are no surprise. Even with the loss of endowment value and drops in donations that many schools are suffering from, a coach only has so much rope...
Not sure that Bobby Gonzalez is still on that list; his beef with the Athletic Director seems to have quieted down, and he is bringing some talent in to Seton Hall. Iowa's coach Todd Lickliter seems to be more deserving than Bobby; a lot of turmoil in the Hawkeyes, who were just terrible in a year where the Big Ten's weak siblings started hitting back.
As for Seton Hall, the coming year could have tumult, as three transfers hope to make their mark on the Pirates. Will the current and incoming players be happy with their minutes? Will Bobby thrive or draw undue attention to himself? There are a few players with NBA aspirations in Herb Pope and Jeremy Hazell; will they mesh?
Fred Hill has brought in talent and is going into his 4th year... which is enough time to make your team look better than it has. I do think he should be higher on the list, but lists like these are starting points for conversations. But if Hill brings in some good talents for 2010 - no one is signed as yet - with the remaining scholarships, does he stay on, even if the on-court results are underwhelming?
In this way, talent can hold up a school; if the AD is convinced that a lack of talent is the problem, a coach may get a little extra time to bring in players, when there is evidence that the game coaching and player development is not up to snuff. Not saying that's what is happening in New Brunswick (or Piscataway, wherever the campus technically is), but it's something to think about.
At St. John's, Coach Norm Roberts is in an interesting position - one would think he is under some pressure to win, but is a winning season enough to keep his position? It might be, especially since he has conducted himself to the media with class. His name is synonymous in articles with "good guy."
There is more talent this year, though Roberts needs more talent to make a solid contender in the league. But letting him go would pass the burden of replacing 9 players in one year (when the current rising junior class leaves in 2011). Or on the other hand... that could be a clean slate for the next coach.
If a coach doesn't get fired after not winning a regular season game in his conference, when does he get fired? One can say that, like Ernie Kent or Paul Hewitt, the Athletic Directors decided that Jerry Wanwright's year was an abberation, but still, that is a lot of losing. There needs to be more local talent on the Chicago roster.
If Wainwright gets some solid Chicago players to sign, does he get another year or two to coach them? As it stands now, there is not a whole lot of turnaround hope for next year, with Mac Koshwal thinking about going pro and Dar Tucker thinking that way as well.