Notre Dame and Bama in football, now UK goes through it in hoops

The thought would have been unheard of 30 years ago. Kentucky going on its third coach in two years? Notre Dame posting a 3-9 record in 2007? Alabama hiring and firing coaches like Paris Hilton goes through boyfriends. The cable boom has and will continue to shake up college athletics. Go back to that first big deal that was signed by Roy Kramer, then the commissioner of the SEC, in 1990. Coaches were hanging around universities for a minimum of 8-10 years. I’m blown away with how many coaches take jobs and then build a house. That’s just asking to throw some of your millions away.

Winning and coach-fatigue

Just win baby – today. Notre Dame, Alabama and USC have all struggled in football at some point the last 15 years. Texas lost its way in the 1990s before Mack Brown arrived. Joe Pa let Penn State slip for about 5 years. In the business world, AIG and GM are a train wreck. Welcome to the 21st century of sport and business. Nobody cares what you did two years ago, much less in 1984.

Today, we have three year rebuilding projects, and coach-fatigue after 7-9 years. Mike Bianco and Rick Stansbury are living some of that in 2009 in the state of Mississippi. Can you believe it? All Bianco and Stansbury do is win, and play in the post-season. It’s never enough, and with more money coming into BCS schools (3 billion in the SEC) look for more quick triggers from athletic directors on coaches and presidents on athletic directors. With ticket prices increasing on an annual basis, boosters and fans expect to be entertained with wins and circus like atmospheres on campus. Those expectations are here to stay.

Look at Tommy Tuberville and Larry Coker. Did Auburn and Miami really upgrade? What about N.C. State in basketball? They hired Sidney Lowe to replace Herb Sendek?!
Arkansas replaced Houston Nutt with Bobby Petrino. Upgrade? I doubt it, but we’ll see.

Barnhart can’t miss again

Mitch Barnhart has an outstanding reputation in the world of collegiate athletics. Of course, that means nothing to Kentucky boosters and fanatical street-fans. The Big Blue hasn’t sniffed a Final 4 since 1998. The Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton hook-up was the biggest story in the country at that time, and I think Justin and Brittany were still romancing their love in the Mickey Mouse club.

Barnhart needs a Jeff Capel or Jay Wright type hire. Unfortunately, (only for Wildcat fans) this is a rebuilding job by Kentucky standards. Tubby Smith left some decent talent for Gillispie, but Kentucky will tip off practice next year with slightly above average big-time college basketball talent. Xavier and Tennessee are better programs than UK today. As we see with tradition-rich programs, (Bama in football) a good coach can turn this thing around in a couple of years. How long will UK fans wait? Will Barnhart be around if it takes the next coach three years to get back to the Sweet 16? What if King Pitino hangs the big banner in Louisville this year?

The gap between Kentucky and other programs has closed. Can they find their Nick Saban? Kentucky needs to find a coach who has a National Championship and embraces the spotlight and expectations that will await the next coach on a 24/7 basis. Yes, Wildcat mania will blog about what your wife eats at a charity function. That’s part of the gig. The next coach will need to have a hint of ego-maniac in him. See Nick Saban.

That’s where we are with the big-time college football and basketball programs in 2009. Embrace it or stay at Gonzaga, Villanova or Xavier.
The rock-star programs are looking for the next Pete Carroll and Nick Saban. The only problem with that thinking is – Carroll and Saban type coaches are few and far between.

Rock stars that should be on Kentucky’s list:
1. Jay Wright
2. Jeff Capel
3. John Calapari
4. Tom Izzo
5. Sean Miller
6. Mark Few

**Rick Barnes, the HC at Texas, is not a rock star.

Bo Bounds is the host of Out of Bounds on Supersport 930 in Jackson, MS. You can email Bo @: [email protected]