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Ex-SEC Coaches From One Era Defend A Pair SEC Coaches From This Era

times-are-a-changinWant a quickie take on what’s on the minds of folks in Alabama and Tennessee these days?  Check out these recent headlines from The Birmingham News and The Tennessean:


“Alabama shouldn’t decide Anthony Grant’s future on his buyout.”

“For Tennessee Vols, buyout Cuonzo Martin should be about more than just dollars.”


For the record, Grant’s buyout would cost the Crimson Tide $5 million bucks.  Martin’s buyout is a mere $1.56 million, but when you factor in all of UT’s recent buyouts (Phillip Fulmer, Mike Hamilton, Derek Dooley and even Bruce Pearl who received a buyout despite being fired for cause), that $1.56 begins to look a lot bigger.

More talk radio, the advent of social media, and bigger salaries for coaches have shortened the career lifespans of the guys on the sideline.  Just check out this list of the SEC’s all-time regular-season win leaders and when they last coached…


  SEC Reg. Season Wins   Coach   Final Season   Overall Win %
  397   Adolph Rupp (UK)   1972   .822
  238   Dale Brown (LSU)   1997   .598
  195   CM Newton (ALA, VU)   1989   .588
  182   Ray Mears (UT)   1977   .713
  178   Billy Donovan (UF)   Current   .724
  178   Harry Rabenhorst (LSU)   1942   .563
  172   Joe B. Hall (UK)   1985   .748
  171   Roy Skinner (VU)   1976   .673
  141   Hugh Durham (UGA)   1995   .580
  139   Tubby Smith (UGA, UK)   2007   .751
  132   Wimp Sanderson (ALA)   1992   .692
  126   Norm Sloan (UF)   1989   .547
  124   Joel Eaves (AUB)   1963   .684
  122   Rick Stansbury (MSU)   2012   .638
  118   Kevin Stallings (VU)   Current   .610
  112   Hank Crisp (ALA)   1946   .658
  110   Don DeVoe (UT, UF)   1990   .572
  109   Nolan Richardson (ARK)   2002   .684
  107   Bob Polk (VU)   1961   .650
  104   Rick Pitino (UK)   1997   .814
  103   John Mauer (UT, UF)   1960   .628


Billy Donovan and Kevin Stallings are the only coaches on that list who are still active in the SEC today.  Only five others from that list coached after 1995, when the internet and messageboards had just started to become a new venting spot for upset fans.

Look at the winning percentages for some of those long-tenured coaches.  Dale Brown, Don DeVoe, Hugh Durham, CM Newton, Harry Rabenhorst and Norm Sloan all lasted for years in the SEC with winning marks of less than .600.

Of the hot-seated coaches above, Grant has a winning percentage of .578 at Bama.  Martin has a winning clip of .580 at UT.  A strong argument can be made that 20 years ago, those coaches’ seats would be considerably cooler.

The man who ranks third in all-time SEC regular-season wins believes coaches are getting the hook to soon these days.  Speaking to the Birmingham Tip-Off Club on Monday, Newton said:


“We’re all instant gratification, we all want the hurry-up fix.  If we leave this guy alone, Anthony Grant, leave him along for a couple of years, he’ll get it right.  He’s a damn good coach.  He knows what it takes to win.  If I were his AD, I would leave him alone simply because I can put my head on my pillow each night and go to sleep knowing he isn’t going to cheat and he’ll have good discipline in his program.”


Not surprisingly another coach on that list recently took up for the guy filling his old shoes.  Speaking on a Knoxville television show last weekend, DeVoe said of Martin:


“Cuonzo Martin is a great mentor for this young basketball team… Coach Martin came into a very difficult situation (with the NCAA)… Nobody thought they would do very well and what happened?  They finished (second) in the SEC (in 2011-12).  You can say what you want to.  They’re not winning that big this year, but this team still is in the hunt.  I’ll bet money right now that Tennessee will win a lot more games than they lose in the next week and a half.”


Mentoring.  Not cheating.  Good discipline.  In the age of Newton and DeVoe who were contemporaries those notions might have carried more weight.  They should still carry more weight.  But the reality is any fanbase would prefer to have a coach who cheats and wins with bad apples than a coach who mentors, maintains discipline and loses.

Toss in talk radio, the internet, social media and the aforementioned mondo coaching salaries and it’s not hard to figure out why most of the men listed in that chart above are long removed from the SEC.  Just ask an SEC columnist.  If money shouldn’t factor into a decision to keep or fire a coach, you better believe that being a nice guy with a tightly-run ship ranks much further down the list of criteria.

Fair or not.

(CORRECTION — An earlier version of this story did not mention Vanderbilt’ Kevin Stallings among the SEC’s all-time leaders in the wins.  Our apologies.)

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Bama Assistant Brannen A Finalist For UTC Head Hoops Job

john-brannenAccording to The Chattanooga Times Free Press, Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant might have an opening on his coaching staff in the coming days.  That’s because Crimson Tide assistant John Brannen is a finalist for the head coaching job at UT-Chattanooga.

There are two other finalists along with Brannen — Virginia Commonwealth assistant Will Wade and former Georgia head coach Dennis Felton.  Felton currently works in the front office of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.  Former Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury was also a candidate for the job at one point.

Brannon has served under Anthony Grant since 2006, joining him at both VCU and Alabama.

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Ahead Of USC-UF Game, Martin Praises His Old Buddy Donovan

frank-martin-billy-donovanIf asked who’s older — South Carolina coach Frank Martin or Florida coach Billy Donovan — you’d probably tab Martin as the elder.  But in reality, he’s actually the younger of the two coaches.  Donovan is 47 while Martin is 46.  The scowl only looks older than the widow’s peak.

Although the two don’t speak too often, they’ve known each other since the late 1980s:


“Obviously, during the season, we don’t all talk as much as we’d like unless I’ve got an issue or he’s got an issue or there’s just a question.  But we talk.  I met Billy when he was an assistant at Kentucky and he was recruiting Allen Edwards and I was an assistant at Miami Senior (high school).

And then Billy hired Anthony Grant, who was the other assistant at Miami Senior.  Billy hired him at Marshall.  From that point on, we’ve always gotten to know each other fairly well.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for the number of wins (437), the number of Elite Eights (five), the national championships (two), the player development.  I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves compared to some other guys.

What he’s built down there is a special, special thing and you’re talking about three national championship games, two national championships, back-to-back Elite Eights the last two years, NCAA Tournament every year since probably 1936 or something like that.  It’s absurd.  You put his numbers against anybody’s in the country…

Look at his numbers (437 wins) at his age.  Kind of do the math.  If he’s healthy, he’ll win over 1,000 games.  It’s ridiculous.”


Sounds like Donovan should hire his old pal as his press secretary.

The two contemporaries will square off tonight in Gainesville for the first time as SEC rivals.  The Gators enter the game ranked #4 in the nation, 16-2 overall with a perfect 6-0 record in conference play, riding an eight-game winning streak.  The Gamecocks are 2-4 in league play, 12-7 overall.

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Bama’s Mitchell Heads To The NBA

Former Alabama hoopster Tony Mitchell — suspended down the stretch last season — announced yesterday that he would enter the NBA Draft.  It’s been known for nearly two weeks he would not be returning to Anthony Grant’s program in Tuscaloosa for his senior season.

Yesterday’s announcement simply means he won’t transfer to another school even though he’d been given a release to do so by Bama.  At the time of his suspension in February, Mitchell was averaging 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide.

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SEC Headlines – 3/9/12 Part Two

1.  Florida needs a renewed focus on defense today against Alabama.

2.  The Gators also need a feel-good win heading into the NCAAs.  (This one’s Billy Donovan versus old aide Anthony Grant, by the way.)

3.  If Georgia had shot all year the way they did in two games against Mississippi State, they sure wouldn’t have finished 5-11 in league play.

4.  Former UGA tight end Orson Charles — who left school early for the NFL — followed up a disappointing Pro Day with a DUI early this morning.  (Charles said Monday that he turned pro in order to help his mother pay some of her bills.)

5.  If you’re in New Orleans today to see Kentucky take on LSU — in less than an hour — you’ll likely spot a billboard of Anthony Davis that the school has put up.

6.  Expect the Tigers to be physical with the Wildcats today.

7.  South Carolina’s “miserable season” ended with yesterday’s loss to Alabama.

8.  Just to reiterate, Carolina’s “forgettable season” ends with the loss.

9.  Tennessee will enter tonight’s game with visions of the NCAA tourney dancing in their heads.

10.  For Cuonzo Martin it’s all about the defense… as usual.

11.  Vanderbilt will try to go 3-0 versus Georgia when they play late tonight.

12.  Festus Ezeli says the SEC tourney is “a chance to right some of the wrongs we’ve made before.”

13.  Gary Pinkel says Missouri and Kansas should play in Kansas City every September.

UPDATE — Mike Slive says the league will discuss making changes to the way it doles out Thursday-Saturday basketball turnarounds.

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Bama’s Grant Says Green Won’t Play Thursday

Scream that he’s costing his team a possible NCAA Tournament berth.  Call him bullheaded, a throwback to another era.

But don’t call Anthony Grant lax on discipline.

Yesterday, Alabama’s coach announced that leading scorer JaMychal Green would return to his team while fellow starter Tony Mitchell would remain suspended for the rest of the season.  Green did return to practice today, but he won’t be returning to the Tide lineup until Saturday at the earliest because, “he’s not playing Thursday,” Grant announced today.  Alabama — 17-9 and in need of wins to grab an at-large tourney bid — will visit Arkansas on Thursday.

“We’ll see how the week goes this week, and we’ll make some decisions after Thursday,” Grant said of Green, who’s already been suspended two weeks for a violation of team rules.

As for Mitchell, Grant said only, “I don’t know,” when asked if he might return to Alabama’s program next season.  Mitchell was initially punished for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

You have to say this for Grant — He’s willing to pay the price to run a disciplined program.  Losses could cost his team an NCAA bid, yes, but down the road a lack of NCAA bids could cost him his job.  The man has principles.

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SEC Headlines – 6/28/11 Part Three

1.  This writer says there’ll be no excuses if Vanderbilt doesn’t have a heckuva year in hoops this winter.

2.  Anthony Grant got burned by the NCAA selection committee last year… so he’s beefing up Alabama’s basketball schedule.

3.  Auburn is up for a whole lotta ESPY Awards this year.

4.  With Kiehl Frazier in the fold, the loss of QB prospect Russell Wilson to Wisconsin could be better in the long run for the Tigers.

5.  Losing three players to transfer — including leading scorer Rotnei Clarke — is making for “an interesting transition” period at Arkansas.

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Trevor Lacey Chooses Alabama

Trevor Lacey has signed with Alabama.

The guard from Butler High School in Huntsville, Ala., made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon. He also considered Kentucky, Auburn and Kansas.

Lacey is the fifth member of Alabama’s 2011 class, which was ranked No. 12 in the nation by before Lacey was added to the Crimson Tide’s class. He joins highly-touted guard Levi Randolph from Madison, Ala., along with guard Rodney Cooper and post players Moussa Gueye and Nick Jacobs.

How significant is Lacey’s addition to Alabama’s 2011 class?

“(Anthony) Grant has essentially signed a starting five with help everywhere,” Shane Youngblood of wrote on twitter.

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Green To Return To Bama Next Season

Leading scorer JaMychal Green says he’ll be back in Tuscaloosa when the 2011-12 season gets underway.  As a player, not as an observer.  Green says his decision to put off a jump to the NBA is based on deep thought, not emotions.

“Nothing is going to convince me to leave.  I talked to my mom and my dad and we made up our mind that we were coming back and (would) play another year.  I have more things to work on and get my education.”

Anthony Grant told The Montgomery Advertiser he was surprised by Green’s decision.  “He caught me off guard there after the game.  It’s not something that I expected at that time.  But it was a pleasant surprise.”


Green and the Tide face Colorado tonight at 9pm ET in the NIT semifinals.

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Alabama-Florida “A Monster Game” (In Basketball, Too)

Last offseason most everyone with a pulse predicted Alabama and Florida would square off for the SEC championship.  Everyone just got the sport wrong.

While Bama and Florida failed to live up to expectations on the gridiron, the two schools’ showdown in Gainesville tomorrow could decide the outright SEC regular-season championship.  Both the Tide and the Gators are 11-3 in league play following weekend losses.

“It’s a monster game, not only from the pride factor of being the overall SEC champ,” ESPN’s Dick Vitale told The Birmingham News.  “They’re both coming off losses.  This becomes a real big game from that factor itself.”  Vitale will be part of the ESPN broadcast team.

The game is bigger for Alabama than Florida.  Billy Donovan’s team is already a lock to make the NCAA Tournament.  Anthony Grant’s team is not.

“I still think they’ve got a little work to do.  You never want that (selection) committee to have to make the choice.  You want to be able to throw the knockdown punch.  Alabama certainly would throw a knockout punch by getting a win on the road over Florida.”

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