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No-Win Situations?

Oregon State isn't the only big-time college program in which building -- or rebuilding -- a basketball tradition is a tall order

Along with Oregon State -- rated the worst job in the Pac-10 and the nation -- these four schools were the picks of college coaches polled by SI for the most difficult basketball jobs in each of the six BCS conferences. The ACC is not represented because the ­coaches said every job in that league is plum.

PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions have been to the NCAA tournament once (2001) in the past decade, and 12-year-old Bryce Jordan Center is cold and characterless. "Most people will say Northwestern is the worst job in the Big Ten, but no one [there] thinks they should be consistent winners, so the pressure's not that bad," says one coach. "Penn State, because of its football success, believes it should [also] be good at basketball."

NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers suffer in a state that doesn't offer much of a recruiting base and the Big 12 school has a history of running off quality coaches. Danny Nee took Nebraska to five of its six NCAA tournament appearances but was fired in 2000, and successor Barry Collier quit in 2006 to become the athletic director at Butler. "Everyone in the coaching community took note when Collier left," says one coach. "He won about as much as you can there, and it still looked like he was going to get fired."

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SETON HALL: Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall "are small schools that can't compete financially in the Big East with UConn, Syracuse, Notre Dame and others with football programs that help balance the books," says one coach. Seton Hall was singled out because even Bobby Gonzalez, an ace New York-area recruiter when he coached at Manhattan, hasn't lured top players to South Orange, N.J.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Coaching in the SEC requires "a moral flexibility," as one coach terms it. "Most of the schools are willing to bend the rules to help get the recruits you need to win." Another coach says, "It's not easy to get a recruit to go to Starkville," but the Bulldogs' Rick Stansbury has "proven it can be done."