Make no mistake about it, Steve Pikiell is an excellent basketball coach. He had a very solid run at Stony Brook, going 192-157 in eleven years. He didn’t really get things going until year four and had the Seawolves in the postseason 6 of his last 7 years. Year eleven was by far his best, going 26-7 and finally breaking through to the big dance. So why is this a bad hire? It is bad because Pikiell is a victim of circumstance. His resume is solid but Rutgers made some very public plays for some other candidates. Rutgers heavily pursued Dan Hurley of Rhode Island and Mike Longeran of George Washington. When that didn’t work out they turned to Pikiell. With that being said he could be the guy to turn around Rutgers. That won’t be an easy task, the Scarlet Knights are bad and this is one of the toughest gigs in college basketball and this hired needed to inject some enthusiasm into the fan base. He hope the best for Coach Pikiell but he likely won’t be given six years to turn things around.
4. Marvin Menzies – UNLV
Marvin Menzies is another victim of circumstance. He did a great job at New Mexico State, going 198-111 and taking his squad to the NCAA 5 of the last 7 years. So why does this hire rank so low? The way it played out. After finishing runner up to Chris Beard Menzies was able to back his way into the job after Beard left for Texas Tech just a few weeks after he was hired. Menzies has the connections to recruit and be successful but after the way the search played out he could be working for a new AD soon. That is usually not a good thing. UNLV is a good job but the leadership at the top will make many people skeptical of how this will play out.
3. Johnny Dawkins – UCF
At a glance Johnny Dawkins seemed to be a perfect fit at Stanford. Coming from an academic background he looked like the guy to keep the Cardinal near the top of the Pac-10. After 8 years enough was enough and Dawkins was let go, compiling a 156-116 record and just one NCAA Tournament appearance. UCF was satisfied with this mediocre record and chose Dawkins to be the guy to get the program on track. UCF is much different than any situation Dawkins has been in. They play in a mediocre league and academic requirements won’t be an issue. There is talent in the state and this is considered a solid job. Will that be enough to help Dawkins resurrect his career?
2. Travis Ford – Saint Louis
Looking at his NCAA tournament appearances Travis Ford has a solid resume. Looking at his NCAA tournament performance, not so much. Ford was able to take Oklahoma State to five NCAA tourneys in eight years. The problem was that he never got out of the first weekend and had a tremendous amount of talent. That talent level might be hard to come by at Saint Louis. SLU is a good job and perhaps dropping down a league might be beneficial. The end result though is that this hire is underwhelming.
1. Josh Pastner – Georgia Tech
A sure sign of a bad hire is how excited a fan base is when a coach leaves. Georgia Tech chased several other candidates before turning to Pastner in what was seen as a desperate move. Pastner had a good record at Memphis, 167-73, to go along with 4 NCAA appearances in 7 years. The problem is that he had numerous top ranked recruiting classes and could not get out of the first weekend. Pastner would have been fired but his insane buyout of $10.6 million left Memphis with no choice but to retain him and hope for the best. Pastner is not regarded as a very good tactician. That is going to be a major problem in the ACC where he will have to clash with the best coaches in the nation on a regular basis. Pastner will probably be able to bring in good talent but will he be able to coach it. Hiring a good tactician for his staff will be critical. In the long run, it is hard to see Pastner making this work and having a run of success in Atlanta.