Avery Johnson
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

If Alabama Fires Avery Johnson, Is This Big 12 Coach the Frontrunner?

On Sunday afternoon, while several college basketball teams were celebrating, Alabama found out its fate. The Crimson Tide didn't make the NCAA Tournament again for the third time in four years under head coach Avery Johnson.

Johnson's squad faltered down the stretch. After defeating South Carolina in Columbia, the Tide lost three of the next four games, including home games against SEC regular-season champion LSU and SEC Tournament champion Auburn. In both games, Alabama had leads late and watched it slip away.

A win against either one, and the Crimson Tide were likely in the Big Dance. Instead, however, they find themselves as one of the top seeds in the NIT, which is not exactly the way they wanted to end the season.

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Johnson admitted the Crimson Tide have no one to blame but themselves for being in this position. They had their chances to make things right, but just couldn't get it done.

"We were all disappointed that we did not make it to the NCAA tournament this year for the second time," he said via AL.com. "This is a situation that we don't have anybody else to blame. We are playing in the NIT because we just weren't good enough during the regular season and we weren't consistent enough."

So, as Alabama fans watch their in-state rival win the SEC Tournament, one has to wonder how much longer will The University of Alabama administration put up with not making the NCAA Tournament again and not being consistent?

You get the feeling that although Johnson may have survived this season, his fifth season as Alabama's head coach is on the line, especially if the Crimson Tide doesn't perform well in the NIT.

If Alabama wins its opening match-up against Norfolk State, they may have to go against former Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant and his Dayton Flyers.

Losing that game might be the beginning of the end of the Avery Johnson Era, which a lot of Tide fans were hoping would come to an end after Friday's loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament.

If Alabama does fire Johnson and that's a big IF, who could they turn to? The logical choice could be Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, who is an Alabama grad.

Prohm's team just took down Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament and may face Auburn in the Midwest Region if both teams win their opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament. A few Tide fans are already predicting this will take place soon.

One thing is for certain: Avery Johnson's job is in jeopardy and whether or not he is retained for next season may depend on a situation he has no control over. That factor? How Iowa State performs during March Madness.

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