Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dana Altman is the clear favorite but Mike Montgomery, Tad Boyle or Herb Sendek could surprise.
With nearly half of the Pac-12 coaches already having won Pac-12 Coach of the Year during their career, the excitement around the award isn't massive. Because of this though, I would say a lot of the intrigue lies in whether or not a Pac-12 coach like Dana Altman or Tad Boyle will grab the award for the first time, or a tenured veteran with one under his belt like Mike Montgomery or Herb Sendek will grab the honors.
To me, it is really a one-man race with Altman way out front, but let's take a look at the candidates on a scale from most likely to least likely.
Dana Altman Oregon
Barring an upset at Utah tomorrow, the Ducks will at least share a part of the regular season championship despite being slated as a mid-level team in the conference coming into the year. Altman led the Ducks over much more hyped Arizona and UCLA squads in the standings and on the court and kept the ship afloat despite losing his standout point guard in the middle of the season. It should be a huge upset if anyone else takes home the award.
Mike Montgomery Cal
This guy just seems to always get the most of his teams, so it was kind of shocking when they were playing so poorly early in the Pac-12 season, but Montgomery quickly led them on second-half tear. The Crabbe push was ugly, but the results may have been worth the controversy. If the Bears can win their last eight games of the season and 10 out of their last 11, Montgomery might be the guy who can steal it away from Altman at the last minute but this week's embarrassment at the hands of Stanford probably even makes that not possible.
Herb Sendek Arizona State
Sendek came into the season firmly on the hot seat and even though it looks like the Sun Devils will likely fall just short of the NCAA Tournament, he deserves a lot of credit for leading his team from the bottom of the conference to near the top. With that tourney berth being unlikely for Sendek and the Sun Devils, the award doesn't seem likely.
Tad Boyle Colorado
I don't think Boyle is that true of a contender here, but maybe will get some "make-up" votes for not winning the award last year when in hindsight, he probably should have gotten it over Lorenzo Romar. Boyle deserves a lot of credit for helping his team handle a disappointing spot and getting them back into the conference championship race and NCAA Tournament.
Bob Cantu USC
Okay, so Cantu probably isn't even a wild card, but the Trojans have been a winning team ever since he took over when they had one of the worst overall records in the conference. If you just looked at the chunk of games that Cantu has coached without looking at the disappointing start to the season, you might think that USC would be in the running for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Not unless they change it to most disappointing coach of the year
Ben Howland UCLA
This was a do or die year for Howland and maybe unfortunately for UCLA and their fans, Howland has done it, but only kind of. He's going to get the Bruins back to the NCAA Tournament and with a solid seed, but I think Bruin fans and media were hoping for a little bit more than that and it might mean that Howland extends his tenure in Westwood.
Sean Miller Arizona
The Wildcats may have had the most promising roster coming into the season with their healthy blend of proven veterans and heralded incoming freshman, but the freshman haven't been as ready as most thought they would and the Wildcats have had one of the most disappointing in-conference performances by a team in recent memory.
Johnny Dawkins Stanford
Another underwhelming year for the Cardinal under Dawkins despite decent talent and experience, have to wonder how long this cycle can maintain.
Lorenzo Romar Washington
Husky fans might not agree, but I actually think Romar did a fair job this year with the level of talent that he had. If anything he is a victim of the own high standards that he has created with his success in Seattle. Still, far from award worthy.
Larry Krystkowiak Utah
Their record may not reflect it that well, but I actually thought that the Utes were improved in their first season under Krystkowiak so even though he's not a candidate there is some promise in Salt Lake City.
Craig Robinson Oregon State
Another year where the Beavers were actually a tougher team to beat than their record suggests, but yet again, another year near the bottom of the conference.
Ken Bone Washington State
Kind of hard to be a candidate when you are probably the most likely guy to get fired this off-season in the conference.