9. Washington State Cougars (7-6) LW: 8
Let me just start by saying Pullman is a tough place to sell.
But after coach Ernie Kent was fired by Oregon after 13 seasons and two Elite Eight appearances with the Ducks, former Washington State athletic director Bill Moos, who brought Kent in at UO, hired him to take over the Cougars, a program in disarray.
Tasked with a multi-year rebuild, Kent has now been through a full recruiting cycle and is 13 games into his fifth season with marginal improvement to show for it.
At 7-6, the Cougars appear to be cleaning up some of the troubles that previously plagued them in nonconference play, but a lot of work remains and Kent might be running out of time.
WSU lacks a signature win or even a marquee opponent on its schedule. The team’s most daunting opponents include Santa Clara, San Diego and New Mexico State (twice) which they are a combined 0-4 against.
Former UCLA coach Steve Alford has already been relieved of his duties in Westwood with the Bruins getting off to an identical 7-6 start. Currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Kent is the next Pac-12 coach fired.
This will be his first offseason without the security blanket of Moos, now the athletic director at Nebraska. However, a coaching change would most likely be made in the offseason, giving Kent 18 more games to show signs of growth.
While the prospect of WSU reaching the the postseason is unlikely, seven more victories would equate to Kent’s highest win total since taking the job.