The Most Interesting Year One Coaches
June 19, 2014 by Jean Neuberger • Print Story •
As Mike Maker was announced as the new head coach at Marist, this year's coaching carousel finally came to a stop.
Like many years, we had some surprising moves, some not-so-shocking choices and some well deserved assistants who have earned their first shot in the top seat. However, five coaching moves this season are really worth keeping an eye on. The situations they entered, the pressure from outside and the immense challenges that some of them face will throw some serious curveballs into the 2014-15 season.
Here's a look at the five newly crowned coaches to watch next season...
Bruce Pearl, Auburn — Obviously, this was the high-profile hire of the silly season. Pearl doesn't have the most sparkling resume when it comes to off the court actions. However, he went to Tennessee and convinced fans to come to Thompson-Boling Arena to cheer for teams other than the ones Pat Summitt led. Pearl is a strong X's and O's guy and should definitely breathe new life into the Auburn program. The challenge is definitely tougher at Auburn than in Knoxville, but there's little doubt Pearl will start winning ways on the Plains.
Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee — Tennessee picked a coach that's coming off a solid tenure at Southern Miss and has a long-term track record of winning. History says Tyndall can win in Knoxville if he can lure solid recruits to wear Vol orange. However, Tyndall has pressure on him from the moment he walked into his first press conference. A contingent of Vol fans are still upset that Pearl was forced out and now is coaching a rival school, so games against the Tigers are going to have to be circled in the same way games against Kentucky are. Want to win the fan base over? Beat Bruce.
Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech — This was as surprising a hire as they get. Leaving Marquette for Virginia Tech doesn't seem like the most logical decision at first glance. However, Williams never was big on the Big East realignment and is embracing a massive challenge to get the Hokies to become an ACC power. Tech fans, while elated, still must realize that building a consistent winner in Blacksburg will take some time. Williams is an energetic motivator that should toughen the Hokies up early while laying a foundation down.
Kelvin Sampson, Houston — The Cougars are taking a major gamble here. There is absolutely no doubt that Sampson can coach. He won big at Oklahoma and he was a winner at Indiana. He can certainly rebuild Houston into a winning program. However, the history of NCAA violations on phone calls to recruits has followed him at each stop. The sanctions that followed dropped Oklahoma's program a notch and really did damage to the Hoosiers. The coach can win but the question will linger will years: has he really learned his lesson?
Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State — This is intriguing mostly because of the timing. Oregon State chose an odd time to fire Craig Robinson, terminating his contract several weeks after the end of the Beavers' season. Ben Howland seemed like the favorite; however, the Beavers convinced Tinkle to leave Missoula instead. Tinkle was a proven winner at Montana and seems unafraid of the challenge he faces in building a winning program in Corvallis. He'll need to be fearless in trying to beat out Oregon and the Washington schools, including Gonzaga, for top Pacific talent.