It has been reported that Ole Miss will part ways with Andy Kennedy at the end of this college basketball season. With that being said, let’s skip the semantics and get right to the good stuff.
Important note laced with caveats: Remember that this isn’t about something being “good” or “bad.” It is about value. Value of a team — or person, for that matter — set off expectations currently placed on that entity.
Buying: The Ole Miss Rebels Job Opening
People are going to wax a little too poetic about the Andy Kennedy era. While no other coach in program history has more wins, and he led the school to nine 20-win seasons, he only managed to take the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament two times since he joined the program back in 2006.
He’s a good coach. The best Ole Miss has ever had… which isn’t exactly saying much.
In the 108 years Ole Miss has been playing big boy college basketball, the program has only made it to the Big Dance a grand total of eight times. EIGHT! To put that in some perspective, the Rebels earn a pair of dancing slippers, on average, every 13.5 years.
Basically, you can create and develop a mostly fully formed human in-between Ole Miss tourney appearances.
This is a program that has operated in the SEC since 1932. A league that should have resulted in — even if it’s only a fluke — mini-runs of consistency. Unfortunately, the best thing anyone can stay about the Rebels is that Andy Kennedy — the dude they are getting rid of — did well enough to not be awful.
Kennedy was good, not great, but also only barely above-average. Grading on the Ole Miss curve, naturally, he appeared to be the second-coming of the world’s most famous carpenter.
Not that Carpenter. Eh, I digress.
With the report surfacing of Kennedy’s departure, this has inevitably led to speculation about who Ole Miss will target and if coaches should be interested in the job. The former part of that equation is an easy answer.
The Rebels should be seeking mid-major coaches who have a reputation as clever recruiters.
In the year of our lord 2018, this isn’t your dad’s SEC. The league has quickly gone from one of the worst power leagues in the country and transformed into one of the best. We can save arguments about where exactly it slots among the Big 12, Big East and others, but let’s save those fruitless debates for some of those young whippersnappers on the mean streets of Twitter.
If Ole Miss wants to be good — or, more accurately, regularly fighting for the month of March mattering — it can’t do the song and dance of shopping around for name-brand coaches. They are either all gone or won’t be interested.
Instead, the athletic department should use the time it has to not only formulate the long-term play, but focus on lower-level coaches who have historically done well recruiting in SEC country.
As for if coaches should want the job, uh, yeah!
The bar is set incredibly low. Humans are about to hurl a parade for a dude who took the school to the NCAA Tournament twice in 12 years. If all you have to do is average more than one Big Dance trip every six years, it’s a realistic thing a competent coach can accomplish, even in the improving SEC landscape.
Moreover, that 108 years of ho-hum history doesn’t need to be used as a negative. While Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky can forever play off a storied history in the future, a new Ole Miss coach can treat the entire thing like a blank canvas.
There is no history. No legends. Traditions that must be upheld. Nothing to speak of, honestly. In turn, an incoming coach can literally make Ole Miss basketball his. Take ownership of the entire thing. Change the branding if need be, alter the uniforms to seem more hip, whatever.
The world is Theoretical Coach-X’s oyster.
Buying: Colorado State’s Mess, A Big Ten Debacle
For disclosure: MactheSpork (I don’t think that is his real name), asked this outside the Stock Watch bubble, but did say I could use this as my jumping off point to discuss the question he did ask.
Anyway, for those who don’t pay attention to Mountain West hoops, Colorado State is currently embedded in a disaster of a wormhole inside a cluster-fudge.
The university has reportedly fired Larry Eustachy after a second investigation into him in four years revealed that he wasn’t really the best guy trotting about the planet. Some of the allegations ranged from verbal abuse, while others were far more nefarious, such as attempting to paint a rape accuser in a less than flattering light to protect his program.
When the school kicked Eustachy to the curb two years too late, Colorado State named an interim head coach… who was then promptly suspended a week into his tenure after players said he enabled Eustachy’s wrath.
Couple in the fact that players on the current roster are incredibly disheartened with the athletic department over finding out about much of this stuff through the media, to the point they boycotted a practice, and the Rams are about in the worst place a program can possibly be in.
Is it fixable? Of course. Get rid of ALL of the bad eggs, clean the house, and make a good hire.
To MactheSpork’s suggestion about Becky Hammon, I honestly love it.
My initial reaction was about fear, to be honest. That people would look at a Division I program hiring the first ever women’s head coach for a men’s program in scandal and believe it to be a mere PR stunt.
After my belly began to let the idea of this run its course, I’ve changed my mind on that. No matter what program eventually hires a woman, knuckle dragging wildebeests would find some way to try to discredit an otherwise qualified person.
In fact, Hammon is actually more qualified than some recently hired coaches at even bigger jobs.
A direct comparison if you will.
Chris Mullin, a St. John’s Red Storm product, returned to his old stomping grounds to become the school’s new head coach with as much basketball coaching experience as your two-year-old Labrador Walter McRuff.
Becky Hammon, a Colorado State product, has been an assistant coach with the famed San Antonio Spurs since 2014.
It isn’t even subjective. Objectively, Hammon has the better resume. If you want to argue the man-woman dynamic, so be it. Just know that she’s been coaching grown men in a professional league and has not only demanded respect, but received it because she’s just that good at her job.
Whether or not Hammon would want this gig is a different discussion completely.
For whatever ungodly reason (money), Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wants the league’s tournament to happen in areas that aren’t really hip to the conference. Last season, it was held in Washington, D.C. This year, it is headed to the World’s Most Famous Arena for not caring about Big Ten basketball; Madison Square Garden.
Also of note: The Big Ten’s tourney runs February 28 through March 4. That is well before all power conferences have theirs.
One would hope the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee won’t let less people in attendance at a conference tournament alter how it views teams vying for a pair of dancing slippers. Then again, this is the same Selection Committee that does sometimes tend to seed as if it were more worried about attendance than slotting teams based on merit.
Alas, this is pretty much a fan issue. If Penn State is on the bubble come an important Sunday in March, and while some committee members might forget (assuming they ever watched) how good/bad PSU is, basketball-reference is only one click away!
Nevertheless, get this tournament back to the Big Ten heartland and air it when the madness that is March is actually applicable.