When University of Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said he was a one-man search committee, he wasn’t kidding. Within 48 hours of his news conference, he announced the Crimson Tide have hired Buffalo’s Nate Oats as their next men’s basketball coach.
The news was surprising considering there were rumors flying around the Internet on Wednesday afternoon that former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta would be the man in Tuscaloosa. However, Byrne quickly put those rumors to rest.
The real question most Bama fans have now is: Was Nate Oats a good hire?
Oats is a two-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, won 32 games this season, posted a 16-2 mark in league play and made it to the NCAA Tournament once again.
However, that was in the MAC. This is a SEC, which is a HUGE adjustment from playing in 3,200-seat arenas to playing at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on a Saturday night in February.
This is not your mom-and-pop league. The SEC had seven teams make the NCAA Tournament this year and LSU head coach Will Wade won the SEC regular-season title in just his second year.
Not to mention, four SEC teams are in the Sweet 16. So, the pressure will be on Oats to not only to prove to Bama fans he can win, but also to the SEC that the Crimson Tide can’t be taken lightly.
Nate Oats already has some work ahead of him with trying to talk star freshman point guard Kira Lewis Jr., among others, to return next season. Alabama had four players enter the NCAA Transfer Portal in the last few days alone.
Oats has an up-tempo style of play, which might be enough to keep some players around, but one thing he doesn’t lack is confidence. According to several college basketball experts, this was a home-run hire for Alabama.
He has already won the hearts of some Alabama fans with this one tweet from last year, too.
Time will tell if Nate Oats is ready for prime time with Alabama, but the question might be: Is the SEC ready for Nate Oats?