Ten coaches heating up -- and not in a good way
The national unemployment rate is at a five-year high, and you can bet your bottom dollar (assuming you still have a bottom dollar) that by April the world of college basketball will do its part to contribute to the mess. In other words, men will lose their jobs. It happens every year. And if you're curious about the names of those who are entering this season under pressure, never fear, I've got 10 of them right here.
Here are 10 coaches on the hot seat:
Bill Carmody (Northwestern)
Why he's here: The fact that Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament suggests something is broken within the program that has little to do with the coach. Still, Carmody hasn't come close to breaking through. He finished 1-17 in the Big Ten last season, which was his eighth at the school. And at some point you change simply for the sake of change.
Ed DeChellis (Penn State)
Why he's here: The good news for DeChellis is that people don't really concern themselves with basketball at Penn State, not with Joe Paterno nearing a berth in the BCS Championship Game. So why go through the trouble of changing coaches if nobody cares either way? Perhaps that's true. But the reality is that DeChellis hasn't finished better than seventh in the Big Ten in five seasons on the job, and eventually the school will be forced to ponder why winning should be viewed as impossible at Penn State when it's not at a place like Washington State.
Dennis Felton (Georgia)
Why he's here: Things were all warm and fuzzy when Felton made an improbable run to the SEC tournament title last season, but don't be fooled. Anything short of that would've led to Georgia removing Felton in favor of VCU's Anthony Grant (sources have said it was as close to a done deal as you can imagine), so don't think for a minute that Felton is safe entering his sixth season. He has never had a winning record in the SEC, and if there isn't a sign of improvement this season (and/or a signed letter of intent from top-rated recruit Derrick Favors) there's a chance Georgia could decide to move on.
Bobby Gonzalez (Seton Hall)
Why he's here: It's OK to be fiery and rub people the wrong way when you're winning, Bob Knight's long and distinguished career serving as a prime example. But when you're not winning it doesn't go over too well, and that's why Gonzalez could be in trouble in just his third year on the job. Yes, he won 17 games last season. But he also lost 15 and finished 1-10 against opponents who went on to make the NCAA tournament. And though all this would be fine under normal circumstances, it's not fine given Gonzalez's circumstances -- one of which has him suspended for the first Big East game this season, another of which features a less-than-ideal relationship with athletic director Joe Quinlan.
Mark Gottfried (Alabama)
Why he's here: Gottfried got a pass the last two years (because of the injury that forced Ron Steele to play the 2006-07 campaign at about 25 percent and miss the entire 2007-08 season), but patience is wearing thin in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban can only distract the masses for so long before they notice that their basketball program hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2006 or survived the first weekend of the event since 2004, which is why Gottfried is at risk of being removed unless he competes for the SEC West and makes the NCAA tournament.
Leonard Hamilton (Florida State)
Why he's here: Hamilton is an accomplished recruiter who seems to never stop getting players. Problem is, he also never seems to do much with them, evidence being how he has made zero NCAA tournaments in six seasons in Tallahassee. Hamilton will find it difficult to survive if that streak is extended.
Ernie Kent (Oregon)
Why he's here: On the surface Kent doesn't belong here because he's made consecutive NCAA tournaments and just received a contract extension. However, the opinion in basketball circles has long been that Kent is one bad year away from getting moved so that Oregon can pursue Gonzaga's Mark Few, who is from Oregon and good friends with athletic director Pat Kilkenny. So what's my point? My point is that you have to wonder if the Arizona vacancy for which Few will be a candidate might make Kilkenny a little quicker to pull the trigger based upon the idea that he'll never get Few if he doesn't try to do it after this season. If so, that's not good for Kent. And don't pay attention to his contract extension. In the grand scheme of things, it means nothing.
Tom Penders (Houston)
Why he's here: Penders has won 81 games in four seasons at Houston, which is great, I guess. But he hasn't made an NCAA tournament since replacing Ray McCallum and is 1-11 in the past two seasons against opponents who went on to make the NCAA tourney. Meantime, recruiting is ho-hum and attendance is embarrassing for a place that was once a national power. So if the Cougars finish middle-of-the-pack in C-USA this season (which is expected), it might be time for athletic director Dave Maggard to consider injecting some young enthusiasm into the program that he so badly needs to be relevant again.
Norm Roberts (St. John's)
Why he's here: There was a lot of speculation last February that Roberts was on the way out, so much so that St. John's had to issue a statement claiming he was not. Then the school gave the former Kansas assistant a five-year extension to create a perception of security for the purposes of recruiting, but nobody believes that will prevent St. John's from changing directions if this season goes as poorly as most believe it will.
Gary Williams (Maryland)
Why he's here: In a perfect world a man would win a national title, watch the school build his statue and retire whenever he damn-well pleases. But this is not a perfect world, Williams is no longer running a perfect program and that -- combined with the theory that he and his athletic director aren't best friends -- is why he's in trouble. The Terrapins have missed the NCAA tournament three of the past four seasons and will likely do it again. That isn't acceptable at a program with the tradition and natural recruiting base of Maryland. So if Williams doesn't overachieve this season it's reasonable to think it might be his last.