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Mike Sorensen: Many college coaches are struggling

Published: Sunday, March 6 2011 11:11 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — It's no secret that Utah coach Jim Boylen is on the hot seat. After two losses last week, he is assured of his second straight losing season, barring a miracle MWC Tournament Championship and a run to the Sweet 16. After four seasons, he stands 69-59 overall and 32-32 in league play.

Whether it's good enough to earn him another year at Utah remains to be seen.

But Boylen's struggles the past two seasons brought to mind a bunch of other coaches with Utah ties who have had struggles of their own in recent years.

Such as . . .

Rick Majerus, Saint Louis — The former Ute coach has been at Saint Louis for four years and remarkably has nearly the same record as Boylen at 69-60 overall and the exact same 32-32 mark in league play. This year Saint Louis is a disappointing 12-18 overall and 6-10 in league play. From what I've heard, it's doubtful the 63-year-old Majerus will coach beyond the end of his current contract, which goes two more years.

Kerry Rupp, Louisiana Tech — The former Ute assistant and interim coach showed steady improvement in his first three years at La Tech, going from six wins to 15 to 24 victories in 2009-10. However this year the Bulldogs fell back to 12-20 and 2-14 in the WAC and hit rock bottom Saturday in a 72-30 loss to Utah State. In that game, the Bulldogs shot 17.9 percent from the field and went 0-for-14 from 3-point range. Maybe Rupp will be replaced by his good friend Karl Malone, a La Tech alum, who has recently expressed an interest in getting into the coaching profession.

Roger Reid, Southern Utah — When he was at BYU, Reid won 66 percent of his games and had a winning record (8-7) against Utah's Majerus. However, after bouncing around for a few years and landing in Cedar City, Reid hasn't been able to get it done, with four straight losing seasons. This year the T-Birds finished 11-19, giving Reid a 40-80 overall mark. That's 33.3 percent. Considering Bill Evans was let go after a 16-14 season and an overall 48 percent winning percentage over 13 years, I wonder how much longer Reid can last.

Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss — The former Ute assistant ant Utah State head coach, did well at Iowa State with back-to-back years of 32-5 and 25-6 before a couple of bad years and his infamous partying with sorority girls cost him his job. After being out of work for a year, he hooked up with Southern Miss and has had a modicum of success, going 116-103 in seven years with four winning seasons. He's had back-to-back 20-win seasons, which may keep him around for awhile.

Trent Johnson, LSU — The former Ute assistant, who was the apparent front-runner to replace Majerus in 2004, had four winning seasons at Stanford (80-48) before moving to LSU. He started with a bang, going 27-8, but the last two years have both been 11-20. However, his athletic director recently gave him a vote of confidence, saying publicly that Johnson will return next year.

Kirk Earlywine, Eastern Washington — After coaching under Majerus at Utah and at Weber State for seven years, Earlywine got the job at EWU. However, he's had four straight losing seasons and an overall mark of 42-78. His days may be numbered.

The lack of success by the aforementioned coaches doesn't mean you can't be successful in college basketball. Just look at four other coaches currently in Utah, who seem to find a way to win every year.

Utah State's Stew Morrill has 13 consecutive winning seasons at Utah State with a 322-102 record. Counting his years at Colorado State and Montana, Morrill is 540-240 with an amazing 24 winning records in 25 years.

BYU's Dave Rose has six straight 20-win seasons in Provo with a 155-43 mark after going 157-67 at Dixie College.

Weber State's Randy Rahe, an assistant at both Utah State and Utah before getting the head job in Ogden, has had five straight winning seasons and a 99-61 overall mark.

Then there's Utah Valley's Dick Hunsaker, who has been a winner everywhere he's coached, compiling a 168-95 record at UVU and an overall mark of 334-169 in 17 seasons, including Ball State and a year as Utah's interim head coach.

It's certainly a tough business out there in the coaching world. Some coaches have it and some don't. Trying to find the ones that do, is what keeps athletic directors up at night.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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