Let's assume Kentucky wins out. With Davis as the overall top pick and the NBA Draft Express projecting another year with five NBA First Rounders, can UK finally live up to the hype and win a National Championship? Sure, the expectations are high with that much talent. They should be. Anything less than winning the SEC and a Final Four trip should be a complete disappointment for those wearing blue. Question: If Cal meets expectations, should he win Coach of the Year? (At your job, if you just Meet Expectations, do you get a promotion, award and a massive raise? Didn't think so.)
Last year was arguably the most disappointing year for a college coach. Cal had the most talented team in decades (5 First Rounders) and didn't win a National Championship. Didn't even play for it. (What kind of coach is that? Coach of the Year? Hmph.)
Shift over to the Vols. Picked 11th in the SEC. Most of us argued middle of the pack as a best case but really could understand the Cellar Dweller conversation, given the "State of the Program." Nothing but role players last year. Role players is a nice way to say misfits, scrubs and underperformers. One 5 star prospect who didn't even play his senior year, joins the team in January. New coach. New system. School recovering from a year of negativity in the spotlight.
The Vols are currently 4th. Winners of 7 of our last 9 games. Already guaranteed to equal last year's SEC win total and a 500 season. If all goes exceptionally well - and the scenario is not insane - Gators lose to Vandy and Kentucky; Vols beat Vandy at TBA and LSU on the road - Tennessee could end up 2nd in the SEC.
In 2012 games, someone figured out the RPI was Top 35 or so for those games. That's a massive turnaround compared to losing against teams with RPIs well over 100 in pre-SEC play.
Regardless of how the season turns out, this should already be classified as a massive success story for the Vols. A Classic Story of Over-Achievers. A coach who has Exceeded Expectations.
So, which coach deserves the award? The guy who recruits like a machine and meets expectations or the guy who took over a program and outpaced the most ardent fans' expectations?