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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Pac-12 basketball outlook: Hot Seat assessment for the 2022-23 season (a slew of jobs will be on the line)

April 12, 2022 Updated Tue., April 12, 2022 at 5:42 p.m.

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

Only one power conference has not experienced a coaching change this spring – the same power conference that sent just three teams to the NCAA Tournament and was 2-11 against AP Top 25 opponents during the regular season.

Pac-12 schools are standing down, with no coaching turnover for the first time in four years.

Which means next spring could be quite busy:

At least five coaches will enter the 2022-23 season with their jobs potentially on the line.

The latest installment of our series looking ahead to next season examines the Pac-12 hot seats and cold chairs.

Salary figures taken from the USA Today database.

Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd (one season)

2022 pay: $2.9 million

Signed through: 2026 season

One-year win total: 33

Seat heat: cold as liquid nitrogen

Comment: Lloyd was the easy pick for Pac-12 Coach of the Year after winning the regular-season and tournament titles, and he has collected national awards from the Associated Press, National Association of Basketball Coaches and the U.S. Basketball Writers. He’ll have a statue outside McKale any day now, with a lifetime contract soon to follow.

ASU’s Bobby Hurley (seven seasons)

2022 salary: $2.8 million

Signed through: 2024 season

Five-year win totals: 20-23-20-11-14

Seat heat: hot, headed toward scorching

Comment: After a poor start, the Sun Devils finished well (except for the final 3 minutes of their final game) to ensure Hurley would return for Year Eight. But if they fall short of the NCAAs next spring, we expect the end of an era in Tempe. Like so many coaches with extended tenures at one school, Hurley would be compared to his prior success. Fair? Perhaps not. But it’s the reality of the profession.

Cal’s Mark Fox (three seasons)

2022 salary: $1.9 million

Signed through: 2024 season

Three-year win totals: 14-8-12

Seat heat: as toasty as it gets … in Berkeley

Comment: Fox spent one year cleaning up the mess he inherited and two years coaching in a pandemic that impacted his program more than most others. But he must produce significant improvement next season or even the athletic director who hired him (Jim Knowlton) will be forced to cut Cal’s losses and move on. Or maybe not. It’s Berkeley. You never know.

Colorado’s Tad Boyle (12 seasons)

2022 salary: $2.4 million

Signed through: 2027 season

Five-year win totals: 17-23-21-23-21

Seat heat: cold as a Rocky Mountain stream

Comment: Boyle keeps churning out 20-win seasons, avoiding controversy and doing as much with his talent as any coach in the conference. We expect the 59-year-old to remain in place until retirement. Given the recent uptick in recruiting, that point could be many years off.

Oregon’s Dana Altman (12 seasons)

2022 salary: $3.8 million

Signed through: 2027 season

Five-year win totals: 23-25-24-21-20

Seat heat: frigid, except on the fringe

Comment: The winningest coach in school history will turn 64 this summer and seemingly is approaching the end of a stellar career. There’s no chance of Altman losing his job, but we can envision a fraction of the Oregon fan base growing impatient if the Ducks were to miss the NCAAs again next season.

Because that’s what happens on the lunatic fringe.

Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle (eight seasons)

2022 salary: $2.7 million

Signed through: 2027 season

Five-year win totals: 16-18-18-20-3

Seat heat: rising, and quite quickly

Comment: Perhaps no coach in conference history changed the trajectory of his tenure more in a three-week span than Tinkle did in March ’21. The contract extension that followed his stunning Elite Eight appearance left OSU with no options this spring. But if marked improvement doesn’t come in 2022-23, the Beavers will have to weigh the cost of dismissal against the cost of retention.

Stanford’s Jerod Haase (six seasons)

2022 salary: figures not available

Signed through: terms not available

Five-year win totals: 19-15-20-14-16

Seat heat: uniquely cool

Comment: Were he coaching anywhere else, Haase would have been dismissed after his sixth season without an NCAA berth. But athletic director Bernard Muir’s public show of support last month suggests there isn’t much pressure on Haase next year, either. Granted, the situation could change if the Cardinal aren’t competitive. But Haase has recruited well enough to maintain Stanford’s entrenched position in the middle of the pack – and the administration seems fine with that.

UCLA’s Mick Cronin (three seasons)

2022 salary: $3.7 million

Signed through: 2028 season

Three-year win totals: 19-22-27

Seat heat: Gene Bartow-eque

Comment: Cronin just received a contract extension that will make him the top-paid coach in the conference – he’s years away from feeling meaningful heat from the administration. But recall that Bartow resigned after winning 52 games in two years because he struggled with the pressure of replacing John Wooden. Well, the pressure to replace Wooden exists, to one degree or another, for every UCLA coach each season. At some point, Cronin might decide he wants out.

USC’s Andy Enfield (nine seasons)

2022 salary: $3.4 million

Signed through: 2028 season

Five-year win totals: 24-16-22-25-26

Seat heat: historically cold

Comment: At this moment, following back-to-back-back 20-win seasons and after receiving what the school described as “a new six-year contract” – and with all eyes on the Lincoln Riley era – Enfield has more job security than any Trojans basketball coach in decades. Only multiple mediocre seasons could raise the seat heat.

Check back in March ’24.

Utah’s Craig Smith (one season)

2022 salary: $1.9 million

Signed through: 2027 season

One-year win total: 11

Seat heat: Wow, what a Rose Bowl

Comment: We expected more than four conference wins in Smith’s rookie year. One subpar season doesn’t a shadow cast, but the Utes need to make a jump in Year Two – if not all the way to the NCAAs, then at least into the middle of the standings. His six-year contract provides plenty of security, and the success of the football program takes public heat off every coach at the school. We wonder if Smith and Co. have sent Kyle Whittingham a note of thanks.

Washington’s Mike Hopkins (five seasons)

2022 salary: $2.9 million

Signed through: 2025 season

Five-year win totals: 21-27-15-5-17

Seat heat: June 28, 2021

Comment: On that day, Seattle set an all-time temperature record of 108 degrees. Hopkins’ seat is equally as scalding: After two wretched seasons, he did enough just enough in ’22 to secure his return (thanks in large part to one player, Terrell Brown, Jr.). But by next spring, the cost of termination will be lower, UW’s nerves will have recovered from the football chaos, and Hopkins will need to brandish an NCAA Tournament bid in order to keep the mob at bay.

Washington State’s Kyle Smith (three seasons)

2022 salary: $1.5 million

Signed through: 2027 season

Three-year win totals: 16-14-22

Seat heat: Vladivostok in January

Comment: We needed a place colder than Pullman to properly illustrate Smith’s level of security. The Cougars are in better shape than at any point since the Tony Bennett era and figure to make a legitimate run at the NCAA next spring. The threat of Smith leaving for another job – one outside the Pac-12, presumably – is exponentially greater than the appearance of palpable internal pressure.

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