Making a difference ... or not?

Updated: April 14, 2004, 3:52 PM ET
By Andy Katz |

Since the summer of 2002, there have been 114 head coaching changes among 326 Division I programs. In other words, one in every three schools have started over, or will do so this season, over the past three years.

Here is a look at some of the higher profile jobs that have changed hands the past two years and how each new face has affected his new place.

2003 Changes

Too Early To Tell ...
Scott Drew, Baylor: The Bears (8-21) were a lot more competitive than anyone thought after the scandal and tragedy of last summer. Drew coached the Bears to three wins in the Big 12 and a finish above Texas A&M.
Oliver Purnell, Clemson: The Tigers (10-18, 3-13) still finished in last place in the ACC, but were very competitive this season -- beating North Carolina and NC State in Littlejohn Coliseum and winning at Wake Forest. It won't be easy to make a move much higher in the ACC next season with the conference remaining just as deep as it was this past season.
Ben Howland, UCLA: The Bruins (11-17, 7-11) were stagnant toward the end of the season and finished a disappointing eighth. UCLA was nearly caught by Oregon State for the last spot in the Pac-10 tournament. But Howland's real difference will be felt next season as the Bruins are banking on a big-time recruiting class to help them turn the corner in year two.
Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech: The Hokies (15-14, 7-9) made the Big East tournament for the first time. That alone is a huge step for this program. The problem is Virginia Tech is moving to the ACC next season. That means Greenberg has an even loftier chore in rebuilding next season.
Robert McCullum, South Florida: The Bulls took a step backwards with only one Conference USA win. South Florida (7-20, 1-15) has one more season to get it going before moving into a rugged 16-team Big East. The pressure is on McCullum to turn this program around before becoming the Big East's doormat in 2005-06.
Anthony Solomon, St. Bonaventure: Solomon was put in a tough situation with the Bonnies. The program was under investigation and coming off a scandalous offseason. After a 7-21 season and three A-10 wins, Solomon now loses his most productive scorer in Marques Green. The heat is on to come up with another marquee player.

Instant Success Stories ...
Brian Gregory, Dayton: Gregory won the Maui Invitational and his Flyers earned an NCAA berth by winning 24 games. The easy thing to do is say that he walked into a great situation. But Gregory didn't mess it up. He continued the Flyers' excellence that started under the departed Oliver Purnell.
Dennis Felton, Georgia: Felton brought discipline, credibility and stability to a program left scared by the Jim Harrick era of academic fraud. The Bulldogs (16-14, 7-9) swept Kentucky and were on the verge of an NCAA berth. Not bad for a transition season.
Bruce Weber, Illinois: Weber regained control of the Illini after it looked like he had lost the team early in the season. Weber led the Illini (26-7, 13-3) to the Big Ten regular season title, a trip to the Sweet 16, and looks as though he's going to continue Illinois' run as one of the elite programs in the country.
Bill Self, Kansas: The Jayhawks were average at times this past season, but rebounded when Self does his best work -- in March. Kansas (24-9, 12-4) reached the Elite Eight and with its core returning next season looks like one of the early favorites to cut down the nets in St. Louis next year.
Roy Williams, North Carolina: Williams got the Tar Heels into the NCAAs, and that alone showed improvement. Sure, they struggled at times, but the Tar Heels (19-11, 8-8) returned to being a national player in Williams' first season and appeared poised for a Final Four run in 2005.
Wayne Morgan, Iowa State: When Morgan was hired a year ago, the consensus was that he couldn't get it done. But Morgan defied the cynics and led the Cyclones to the NIT final four. He ensured Iowa State (20-13, 7-9) was once again one of the toughest road stops for teams in the Big 12. He is a proven recruiter and is showing that he can coach a little, too.
Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh: Dixon was one of the biggest success stories of the 2003-04 season. He led the Panthers (31-5, 13-3) to a Big East regular-season title and another Sweet 16. Dixon followed the mentality of his former boss (Ben Howland) and kept the Panthers' attitude of being a tough team alive throughout the season. The defense was solid and although they were offensively challenged, the Panthers were still one of the hardest teams to beat all season.
Dick Bennett, Washington State: The Cougars made the Pac-10 tournament. That says all you need to know about how successful Washington State was this season. Yes, the Cougars (13-16, 7-11) still finished under .500. But they won at Cal, USC and UCLA. Washington State also should have beaten Stanford, if not for Matt Lottich's prayer at the buzzer. Bennett has fans believing that the Cougars can be a player in the Pac-10 and the postseason.
Steve Hawkins, Western Michigan: Hawkins took over a team from Robert McCullum and led the Broncos (26-5, 15-3) to the MAC title and NCAA appearance. The tough part for Hawkins now is to duplicate his first season. He won't be expected to be in the NCAAs every year, but shouldn't drop too far out of the MAC mix.

2002 Changes

Jury Is Still Out ...
Stan Heath, Arkansas: The Razorbacks won nine games in his first season, 12 in his second. Arkansas has a big-time recruiting class coming in, but could lose its top recruit in Al Jefferson to the NBA draft. The SEC is wide open next season and Arkansas has no excuse if it isn't a postseason team in 2005. Heath came into Fayetteville with one year of head coaching experience, but an Elite Eight on his résumé. Still, the Razorbacks have won just four SEC games in each of the past two seasons. That obviously has to change.
Ray Lopes, Fresno State: Lopes won 20 games in his first season, as well as the WAC title. But the administration barred Fresno State from postseason play in 2003. Fresno State was supposed to make up for its lost postseason in 2004, but the Bulldogs took a step back with a sub .500 season (14-15) and sixth-place finish in the WAC.
Ritchie McKay, New Mexico: McKay is about to enter his third season in the same place for the first time in his career. McKay won 10 games in his first season and four games in the Mountain West. The Lobos won 14 games this past season, but still finished just 5-9 in the MWC. The third season will be critical in McKay's rebuilding process.
Jay John, Oregon State: The Beavers won six Pac-10 games in his first season and finished with 13 wins. The Pac-10 was wide open this season after Stanford, but Oregon State again settled for a half-dozen conference wins and missed the postseason tournaments with 12 wins overall. The Beavers must climb to .500 overall and into the Pac-10 tourney in year three.
Brad Soderberg, Saint Louis: The Saint Louis job isn't an easy one, especially in Conference USA. Still, the Billikens have gone to consecutive postseason NITs under Soderberg, who might have better luck getting into the NCAAs once Saint Louis moves to the Atlantic 10 in 2005. Saint Louis (19-13, 9-7) has proven to be one of the toughest teams to play in the league. He's on the right track but it's still a little early to judge just how much better the Billikens are two years after Soderberg's arrival.

Success Stories ...
Mike Anderson, UAB: The Blazers (22-10, 12-4) were the darlings of the NCAAs so it's hard not to call Anderson's two-year run a success. UAB tied for the Conference USA regular-season title with four other teams, but pulled off the shocker of the tournament by beating top-seeded Kentucky in the second round after taking out Washington. UAB's Sweet 16 appearance made Anderson one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel, but he stayed put.
John Beilein, West Virginia: Beilein took over a struggling program and returned credibility to Morgantown. His teams played hard and were a tough out for anyone who came through campus. West Virginia (17-14, 7-9) didn't make the NCAAs this past season, but the Mountaineers were at least in the conversation down to the final few weeks. Beilein did this after tossing his best scorer, Drew Schifino, off the team.
Jeff Capel, Virginia Commonwealth: Capel was considered a risky hire two seasons ago because he had little coaching experience. But in his second season, he led VCU to a 23-8 record and the CAA title. VCU gave Wake Forest fits in the first round of the NCAAs and nearly pulled off the upset. Capel, who is still the youngest Division I head coach at 29, got interviews at Auburn and Miami but decided to remain at VCU.
Leonard Hamilton, Florida State: The Seminoles are still looking to get into the NCAAs, but they were extremely close this past season. Florida State (19-14, 6-10) was one of the toughest road trips for any ACC team. The Seminoles couldn't beat Duke or NC State, but took out everyone else at home. Winning on the road is still a chore, but the Seminoles are recruiting top players and should be an NCAA team in 2005.
Dave Leitao, DePaul: The Blue Demons won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1989, before losing to Connecticut in the second round. DePaul finished tied for first in Conference USA. DePaul also went to the NIT in Leitao's first season. Yes, the man has made a difference. Leitao has been a tremendous hit at DePaul and seems to like his spot in the coaching world having decided against moving after interviewing at St. John's.
Lorenzo Romar, Washington: While Romar's Washington career got off to a rocky start with an NCAA investigation, things have calmed down and the Huskies are one of 2004's better success stories. Washington finished second in the Pac-10 after a 0-5 start. The Huskies (19-12), however, found their way into the NCAAs -- beating Stanford along the way -- and lost to UAB in one of the first round's most entertaining games, 102-100. If Nate Robinson returns for his junior season, the Huskies could be one of the favorites in the Pac-10 in 2004-05.
Billy Taylor, Lehigh: Taylor won the Patriot League title in his second season, guiding Lehigh to the NCAA Tournament. Lehigh lost to Florida A&M in the opening round game but getting to the NCAAs in year two was quite an accomplishment.
Jerry Wainwright, Richmond: Wainwright did a great job in his second season, guiding the Spiders (20-13, 10-6) to the NCAA Tournament. Wainwright, who enjoyed similar success at UNC-Wilmington, took over a successful program from John Beilein and raised it to another level this season with a trip out of the A-10 to the NCAAs. Richmond was a tough team on the road and will continue to be one of the A-10's better teams.

Short, But Successful Stays ...
Billy Gillispie, UTEP: Gillispie didn't last long at UTEP. But he turned the Miners into an NCAA team in two seasons, taking over a team that lost its coach just weeks before the 2002-03 seasons and after winning just six games, the Miners lost six while winning 24 in his second season. UTEP gave Maryland a tussle in the first round last month, and Gillispie's stock soared high enough to be wooed by Texas A&M after just two years on the job.
Jeff Lebo, Chattanooga: While Chattanooga didn't get into the Dance in Lebo's two seasons, the Mocs did win 40 games in two seasons under his watch to draw the attention of the SEC. Lebo landed the Auburn job this spring. Lebo is kind of like fellow former Tar Heel Buzz Peterson. He keeps getting jobs, even though he hasn't been a regular in the NCAAs.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at

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