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A season of change?

When the basketball season comes to an end, the Mountain West Conference may see historical change. That change could come in the form of firings and promotions, completely altering the landscape of basketball in the Mountain West.

Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado State, Utah and TCU have woefully performed this season and it's possible all these programs make a regime change in hopes of getting their program back to a level of respectability. While I don't expect them to all fire their head coaches, the possibility of at least two or three of these schools replacing their coach is definitely high. This is something I would like to address, starting with the most likely program to make a change at the top.


I haven't hid the fact I'm not a supporter of Ray Giacoletti. The fact Utah has yet to win 10-games this season proves how big of a disaster his stay here has been. Even with two straight wins over poor performing teams, I can't help but get the sense this program is far too lost for Giacoletti to accomplish anything worthy of praise. It's fairly clear that things just aren't working out for him here and Utah needs to make a change at the end of the year. The status quo might be the safe thing to preserve, but the long term consequences are far too big to ignore at this time.


Steve McClain has had success at Wyoming, upsetting Gonzaga in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. Yet the team never could sustain that success and haven't returned to the NCAA Tournament since. Wyoming has historically been a strong basketball program, yet their inability to really make noise nationally, and hell regionally, have ultimately done in McCalin's chances of succeeding up in Laramie. Last year the Pokes were all set to finally fire him, however making the final round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament was enough to keep him around for another year. This season, Wyoming has struggled and will probably finish once again toward the bottom of the conference. Unless they rebound and somehow win the Mountain West Tournament, McClain's career at Wyoming is most likely over. And just like that, the Mountain West's most senior coach will be gone.

New Mexico

The Lobos have constantly been a traditionally  rich program, yet Ritchie McKay has never really been able to recapture the glory of former Lobo great Bob King. The fact New Mexico hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 1999, doesn't help his case. Though the Lobos had a good season in 2004-'05, they haven't been able to reach that height since and it looks like this season will again be a failure. Anything short of a deep run in the Mountain West Tournament will probably signal change in Albuquerque, or at least throw McKay on the hot seat entering next year.


The Rams have consistently been one of the Mountain West Conference's worst teams. Though they have made the NCAA Tournament twice since 2000 in 2003, both those that berth came way of the Mountain West Conference Tournament and not regular season success. These regular season struggles have definitely handicapped a program that hasn't been relevant on the national stage in nearly 40 years. Dale Layer, the coach of CSU, has failed to accomplish anything outside of winning Mountain West Tournaments and the fast starts and sudden collapses this season and last are a troubling trend.


Not long ago Billy Tubbs was successfully coaching at TCU. Then he left the program and they hired Kansas assistant Neil Dougherty. After what appeared to be movement in the right direction -- going 21-14 in 2005 and making the NIT -- TCU has regressed beyond their fans' worst nightmares. This season, the Frogs are a near lock for another last place finish in the conference and concerns toward Dougherty's leadership are mounting. Yet no one can deny he took over a declining program and is only in his fifth year. TCU has never really been a basketball power, so there is a good chance he's back for another year. However it's impossible to deny how terribly bad they've been over the past two years.

I honestly think Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming make coaching changes, while Colorado State and TCU wait another year to do so. That should make for an interesting spring and summer for each basketball program, especially if they're competing for the same coach. And it wouldn't surprise me if Air Force was added to this list, as Jeff Bzdelik may get a better job offer. The next few months will be very interesting and exciting for this conference and I hope Utah has the sway to garner a topnotch coach to replace Giacoletti if/when he's fired.