I want YOU to do better. - Jeff Gross
Very few coaches survive five years at a school without making at least one NCAA Tournament.
Barring an improbable Pac-12 Tournament title, Stanford will miss the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year under the guidance of Johnny Earl Dawkins.
In five seasons, Dawkins' biggest accomplishments are leading the Cardinal to the 2012 NIT title and advancing to the Final Four...of this year's Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge. (Dawkins brought up the rear with 1% of the final vote.)
Beat writer Tom FitzGerald says "it's doubtful Stanford will pull the plug on Dawkins after five years," as buying him out of a contract that runs through the 2015-16 season would require an estimated $3 million.
If Dawkins isn't fired, he'll join an exclusive group of active coaches who failed to make at least one NCAA Tournament within the first five seasons of being hired.
By my count, there were three coaches from BCS conferences who met that criterion entering this season: Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy and Northwestern's Bill Carmody. Hamilton spent some time on the hot seat over his first five years in Tallahassee, but he managed to hang around long enough to break through with an NCAA Tournament appearance in his seventh season. Kennedy and Carmody haven't made the NCAA Tournament in six and 12 seasons, respectively. Kennedy could end that drought with a couple of wins in the SEC tournament, while Carmody and the Wildcats have to win the B1G Tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
(If we also include coaches from the Mountain West and Atlantic 10, which rank first and seventh in conference RPI, respectively, the club grows only slightly.)
Let's take a look at each of these coaches' situations individually and see how Dawkins' decidedly mediocre tenure stacks up.
Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Situation When He Took the Job: Florida State inked Hamilton to a five-year contract in 2002 after firing Steve Robinson following four consecutive losing seasons. Hamilton, who had been out of work since leading the NBA's Washington Wizards to a 19-63 record during the 2000-01 season, led Miami (Fla.) to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments before making his ill-fated jump to the pros. The Seminoles had been to one NCAA Tournament since 1993 when Hamilton arrived.
Record in First 5 Seasons: 87-71 (.551)
Best Conference Finish in First 5 Seasons: 5th in ACC (4th season)
Postseason Tournaments in First 5 Seasons: NIT Second Round (2nd season), NIT Second Round (4th season), NIT Quarterfinals (5th season)
Since Then: Hamilton took Florida State to the NCAA Tournament 2009, his seventh season. The Seminoles returned to the NCAA Tournament the following year and reached the Sweet 16 the year after that. The Seminoles won the ACC Tournament in 2012 and earned a No. 3 seed, but were upset by Cincinnati in the second round. FSU's run of NCAA Tournament appearances figures to end this month, but the decision to stick with Hamilton was a good one. Florida State was rewarded for its patience
Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss
Situation When He Took the Job: Kennedy was hired to replace Rod Barnes, who led Ole Miss to the NCAA Tournament in three of his first four seasons, but followed that with four consecutive losing seasons. Kennedy, who played at NC State and UAB, had been the interim coach at Cincinnati after Bob Huggins resigned
Record in First 5 Seasons: 105-64 (.621)
Best Conference Finish in First 5 Seasons: T-1st in SEC West (1st season and 4th season)
Postseason Tournaments in First 5 Seasons: NIT Second Round (1st season), NIT Semifinals (2nd season), NIT Semifinals (4th season), NIT First Round (5th season)
Since Then: Kennedy led the Rebels to another NIT bid last season and, after a promising start to 2012-13, it appears that's where Ole Miss will end up yet again. Kennedy was asked about his job situation after the Rebels lost an ugly game to rival and SEC bottom-feeder Mississippi State on Saturday. "I'm the all-time winningest coach in the history of this program," Kennedy said. "I'm very proud of a lot of the things that we've done. Am I satisfied? Not close. But I work at the leisure of my employer and if he tells me today, ‘Andy, you're no longer the head coach at Ole Miss,' I'm going to thank him." Ole Miss finished the 2012-13 regular season 23-8 and 12-6 in the so-so SEC.
Bill Carmody, Northwestern
Situation When He Took the Job: Carmody, who enjoyed four successful seasons as Pete Carril's successor at Princeton, was hired to replace historically inept coach and awful person Kevin O'Neill at Northwestern in 2000. O'Neill The Wildcats went 5-25 in O'Neill's final season.
Record in First 5 Seasons: 68-80 (.459)
Best Conference Finish in First 5 Seasons: T-5th (4th season)
Postseason Tournaments in First 5 Seasons: None
Since Then: Carmody, who is in his 13th season at the helm, has led the Wildcats to four consecutive NIT appearances. It's unclear whether Carmody will be back next year; 13 consecutive seasons without an NCAA Tournament bid in a power conference is a long, long time for any coach, even one at a school that has never made the Big Dance.
Which brings us to...
Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Situation When He Took the Job: Stanford was coming off a 28-8 season that culminated in a loss to Texas in the Sweet 16. The Cardinal had qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 13 of the previous 14 seasons and had finished with a winning conference record in 15 consecutive seasons. Dawkins, who worked as an assistant at Duke since 1999, was hired to replace Trent Johnson, who left for LSU.
Record in First 5 Seasons: 93-72 (.564)
Best Conference Finish in First 5 Seasons: 7th (4th season)
Postseason Tournaments in First 5 Seasons: CBI Semifinals (1st season), NIT Champions (4th season)
Stanford is 39-51 in Pac-12 play under Dawkins, which might not seem so bad if the conference was ever any good during his tenure.
It's much harder to make the NCAA Tournament than it is to qualify for a bowl game, but even if you choose to ignore the NCAA Tournament drought (not sure why you'd do that, as AD's obviously don't), Dawkins' squad -- and his touted 2010 recruiting class, in particular -- hasn't shown much progress over the last three years.
I'd like to see Stanford compete for a Pac-12 title. Heck, I'd like to see Stanford finish with a winning conference record. More than anything, I'd like a reason (OK, other than my bracket) to care about March Madness again.
Unfortunately I think that means it's time to find a new coach.
Now watch the Cardinal win four games in four days.