Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Hot seat just starting to warm up for coaches
It is almost time to start name dropping.
As college basketball falls out of a February frenzy and into March Madness, names will start to emerge of coaches who are on the hot seat.
That is a common thing this time of year. Last year there were 46 head coaching changes, and while there may not be that many this year, there will be plenty.
Some blame that on social media, boosters getting restless or even the students. But the truth is coaches are hired to win and winning gets them into the NCAA Tournament, and every athletic director wants to party hearty in March.
A couple of SEC coaches who might be in jeopardy are coaching in the same state -Anthony Grant at Alabama and Tony Barbee at Auburn.
Obviously, Nick Saban hasn’t decided if Grant is hurting football recruiting. If he does, Grant will be gone faster than rock salt in a New York blizzard.
Grant has only one NCAA Tournament appearance at Alabama and is suffering through a miserable season, 10-15 overall and 4-8 in the SEC as of Wednesday, with a team that made the NIT quarterfinals last year.
Barbee has been incredibly consistent at Auburn. In his fourth season the Tigers have zero winning seasons. Gene Chizik was fired after his fourth season as Auburn’s football coach, two years after the Tigers won the BCS national championship.
Those guys may be in trouble, but probably not as much as Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, Ken Bone at Washington State or Oliver Purnell at DePaul.
Bzdelik must do great job interviews because he hasn’t really done anything since he was at the Air Force Academy. In his first season he took the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament and his Princeton offense lost in the first round. The next year they made theNIT semifinals.
That got him the Colorado job, where he went 10-38 in league play. That somehow got him the Wake Forest job, where he is 14-48 in ACC play. He was named once as one of the worst head coaches in America, and he hasn’t done much to dispute that claim.
Bone has no NCAA Tournament appearances and is suffering through his second consecutive losing season. He’s been in a slide the past three seasons, going 13-36 in the Pac-12.
Purnell is suffering his fourth consecutive losing season for the Blue Demons, and as of today is 8-53 (.131) in conference play.
There is no doubt there are many other names that could be discussed, even the always likable Stan Heath, and they will be before the end of the NCAA Tournament. But there are also two very hot names in college basketball for good reasons.
Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall has to be at the top of the list of coaches who may move up. He currently has his undefeated Shockers No. 3 in the nation.
Last season the Shockers beat Ohio State to advance to the Final Four, where they lost to eventual champion Louisville.
Enough about Marshall, 50, who led Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
The other name is former Ole Miss standout Michael White, who is in his third season at Louisiana Tech, which was in disarray when he took over. After going 18-16 in his first season, White led Tech to a 27-7 record last season and is currently 21-5.
In the past two seasons Louisiana Tech is 25-4 in league play (Western Athletic and now Conference USA). White, 36, spent several years as an assistant at Ole Miss before getting the opportunity at Louisiana Tech, which had one winning season in the four prior to White’s arrival.
That’s just an early and brief look at some folks who will be in the news in the next few weeks.
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/20/2014