For the college basketball coaches I think of as "The Kentucky Three" — John Pelphrey, Darrin Horn and Travis Ford — this is the winter of discontent.
At Arkansas, an Associated Press article recently referred to Pelphrey as the "embattled fourth-year Razorbacks coach." The message-board jackals have taken to calling him "Fail-frey."
With Pelphrey's alma mater, Kentucky, coming to town Wednesday night, the Woo Pig Sooey world is sharply divided over whether the redhead should be invited back to coach a fifth year at Fayetteville.
Oklahoma State's Ford has had no joy ride this season, either. The ex-UK point guard has had problems off the floor, with a starting forward charged earlier this month in a rape case. And he's had problems on the court, with the Cowboys having lost six of their past eight.
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As we saw in Rupp Arena Saturday, Horn's South Carolina team is mired in a February funk. The former Tates Creek standout and Western Kentucky University player and head coach has seen his Gamecocks lose five in a row.
In between UK matchups against the teams of Horn and Pelphrey, let's look in on the career arcs of The Kentucky Three.
2010-11 record: 16-10 (4-8 Big 12 going into Monday's game at Kansas)
Overall record at Oklahoma State: 61-33 (21-21 Big 12) in three years
Career record: 184-148 in NCAA Division I (11 years at Eastern Kentucky, Massachusetts and Oklahoma State)
NCAA Tournament history: Three trips (Eastern Kentucky 2005; Oklahoma State 2009 and '10). One NCAA tourney win (beat Tennessee in 2009)
The big picture: In Ford's first two seasons in Stillwater, the Cowboys used late-season surges to make the NCAA Tournament. Yet with OSU having lost three in a row, it doesn't appear the February push is going to have much oomph this year. The arrest of junior college transfer Darrell Williams Feb. 7 added turmoil to the brew.
Reason for hope: Ford has signed prized prospect LeBryan Nash for next season. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Dallas is a McDonald's All-American and the No. 4-ranked player in the 2011 Rivals 150.
Hot-seat thermometer: Low. Ford's two prior NCAA tourney bids in Stillwater and the impending arrival of Nash should keep the wolves at bay for now.
2010-11 record: 13-12 (4-8 SEC)
Overall record at school: 49-38 (20-24 SEC) in three seasons
Career record: 160-86 (eight years at Western Kentucky and South Carolina)
Total NCAA Tournament trips: One (Western Kentucky 2008). Two NCAA tourney wins (beat Drake and San Diego in 2008)
The big picture: Horn's Gamecocks shared the 2009 SEC East title with Tennessee. Last year, Carolina upset then-No. 1 and unbeaten UK. This season, South Carolina has road victories at both Florida and Vanderbilt and ended its six-game losing streak against archrival Clemson. Yet this year's late-season struggles are part of a worrisome trend: Carolina under Horn is 8-19 so far in games in February and March.
Reason for hope: Big man Sam Muldrow is the only major contributor who graduates. Well-regarded in-state prospect Damien Leonard (No. 86 in Rivals 150) is signed for next season.
Hot-seat thermometer: Low but rising. The disappointing finishes to seasons are starting to produce some grumbling. South Carolina will give Horn time to develop his young roster, but the coach needs an NCAA Tournament trip soon.
2010-11 record: 16-10 (5-7 SEC)
Overall record at school: 67-57 (23-37 SEC) in four seasons
Career record: 147-124 (nine years at South Alabama and Arkansas)
Total NCAA Tournament trips: Two (South Alabama 2006, Arkansas 2008). One NCAA tourney win (beat Indiana in 2008) at Arkansas
The big picture: In his first year, Pelphrey took Stan Heath's underachieving leftovers and made a run to the finals of the SEC Tournament and won an NCAA Tournament game. Since then, Arkansas is 14-30 in SEC regular-season contests. After this season's Hogs lost back-to-back home games to Georgia and Ole Miss, the nattering nabobs of negativism came out in force.
Reason for hope: Arkansas has signed five players for next season, all ranked in the Rivals 150. Included are No. 18 B.J. Young (6-3 guard from Missouri) and No. 27 Ky Madden (6-5 guard from Arkansas).
Hot-seat thermometer: High. One of the most beloved players ever to wear UK blue, Pelphrey could really use a victory over his old school Wednesday night to cement his hold on his job.