Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stanford coach?s two-year extension is mostly a recruiting tactic

It's no coincidence Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby chose the first day of the July evaluation period on Wednesday to announce coach Johnny Dawkins' two-year contract extension through the 2015-16 season.

This new contract wasn't so much about Bowlsby reaffirming his faith in Dawkins. It was about combating the perception in the minds of high school juniors and seniors that Dawkins' job may be in jeopardy if he doesn't engineer a turnaround in the next two years.

Stanford is a program accustomed to annual upper-division Pac-10 finishes under Mike Montgomery and to a lesser extent Trent Johnson, but Dawkins has gone a mere 49-48 in three seasons on the Farm and has yet to make an NCAA tournament.

Some of that mediocrity is a result of the lack of young talent Johnson left Dawkins when he bolted for LSU, a problem exacerbated when Dawkins appeared to spend more of his first summer helping Mike Krzyzewski run the U.S. Olympic team than recruiting. The Cardinal relied on a nearly all-walk-on frontcourt two years ago and had no seniors on its roster last season.

There are signs Dawkins is on the verge of a turnaround in spite of leading scorer Jeremy Green's surprise decision to turn pro with a year of eligibility remaining. Not only did forward Dwight Powell and guards Anthony Brown and Aaron Bright each show promise as freshmen last season, incoming freshman Chasson Randle was the Illinois state player of the year last year and signed with Stanford over Illinois and Purdue.

The bottom line with Dawkins' future on the Farm is this.

If that crop of young talent can lead Stanford back to the NCAA tournament in the next two years, Dawkins will have the opportunity to remain with the Cardinal or perhaps parlay that success into another job. If Stanford continues to flounder in a mediocre Pac-12, don't expect Dawkins to coach the Cardinal through the end of his new contract.

Lori Heuring Nicole Scherzinger Jill Arrington Tami Donaldson Padma Lakshmi

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