Heading into the final game of the year, a lot of people are wondering about the future of some of the head coaches in the OVC. Will Saturday’s game be the last for any coaches? Can extending the season into next week’s OVC Tournament save the coach? Here are the coaches that may be on the hot seat.
Seat Temperature: Frozen Cold
They’ve had a bad year. Teams and coaches have bad years. Loos has been at Austin Peay since 1990. They’ve named the court inside the arena after him. They’re a lock to enter the OVC Tournament this season. You don’t get rid of a coach of 21 years after one bad year.
But that’s not to say he might not leave on his own. As the only coach/AD in the country, there’s no doubt that Loos can only continue to wear both hats for so long. I wouldn’t be surprised if Loos stepped aside to give former UT Martin coach and current Governors assistant coach Bret Campbell the head coaching gig. It just depends whether he’s okay going out on the sour note that has been this season, or whether he wants another shot at going out on top.
Seat Temperature: Warm to the touch
Simply looking at the teams record, it’s easy to say that James should be fired without question. But as I’ve maintained all season, this simply isn’t the case. James just received a contract extension last summer that will last until 2015. Most any OVC school, but especially UT Martin, isn’t going to pay 3 years worth of severance to a coach.
Second, this team hasn’t been at full strength since day one. The player expected to be the team leader, Terrance Smith has missed this entire season to injury. If you’ve watched this team lately, they haven’t quit on James, which is impressive given their 0 wins in conference play. You have to look beyond the record with this one, and realize that James is almost a lock to return to the sidelines next season.
But if they have a similar season next year? Not sure any excuse will matter.
Seat Temperature: Warm…ish
Some EKU fans have expressed their disagreement when I said in this week’s Power Rankings that if EKU can fire Neubauer without any financial ramifications (meaning, his contract is expiring) I think they would. I’ll downgrade that some to I think they might. The reason is this: I don’t think that EKU has been bad enough to warrant him getting fired if it will cost the University as much as a penny. But, has he done enough to warrant a new contract? I’m not so sure.
Eastern Kentucky hasn’t been horrible. The first few weeks of the conference season, they looked like they were going to be a surprise breakout team. Sadly for them, the conference season is longer than just a few weeks. Right now, they’re looking at the possibility of being eliminated from the OVC tournament, something that looked like a lock just a few weeks ago.
It comes down to your expectations for the program. If you think EKU’s goal should be a plus .500 team in the OVC year every year, then he’s doing great. Seriously, sign him now, because he has done that in all 7 seasons. If you think that EKU should be doing more than that, which I do, then it’s hard to make a great case for him. The team hasn’t gotten worse in his tenure by any stretch, but have they gotten better? Maybe they have, and it doesn’t show in the record? Clearly, as I stated above, some fans still seem to like Neubauer, and generally that’s a great indicator that a coach will survive at least another season.
But Neubauer has been at the helm for a while now, and sometimes this is about the point where schools start looking to other options, even when they have an “okay” season like this one. (Which only remains “okay” if they make the OVC tournament)
In the end, I’m not sure he does get fired, or that he should be fired. Simply, I’m admitting he might be. And in the end, that’s what’s the most important.
Seat Temperature: Can he even sit on it? It’s on fire
Is Miller possibly one win away from saving his job? I still think it’s unlikely that an end of season surge will have much of an effect at this point (meaning he’s still fired it that’s the way the AD was leaning, and clearly not otherwise) but it’s been interesting to watch to say the least. But last night horrific lost at Morehead State doesn’t exactly instill confidence for Saturday’s do or die game against the Colonels.
I talked about expectations above with Eastern Kentucky, and for EIU fans, the same discussion does kind of need to be had. EIU is 314th out of 341 Division I teams according to BB State in the amount of funding given to their basketball program. I don’t think anyone expects EIU to win the OVC title year in and year out (although I’m sure they’d enjoy it) and EIU is competing in the conference this season. (Although, admitting, they took their time to earn 5 OVC wins) Is that enough to say “one more year?” Maybe. Should it be? A lot of fans seem to be against it.
Miller gets a lot of flack for playing his son, but a lot of coaches in college have coached their son, and in this specific case I think Joey Miller probably takes a lot more flack then he has earned. Miller isn’t an all-conference caliber player in my opinion, but he’s not a scrub either.
In the end, I think Miller is probably gone, although if he makes the tourney, and his team has a run to the semis (or farther) in them, a lot of opinions may change in a hurry.
Maybe even mine.