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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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Vols Land Another Commitment

Monday was a productive recruiting day for the Tennessee basketball team.

It started with the commitment of five-star shooting guard Robert Hubbs from Dyer County High School in Newbern, Tenn. Then came the pledge Monday evening from forward A.J. Davis of Buford (Ga.) High School. He announced his commitment via Twitter.








Davis, the son of 13-year NBA veteran Antonio Davis, became Tennessee’s third commitment for the 2013 class. Point guard Travon Landry from Huntington (W.V.) Prep was the first prospect to commit to the Vols for 2013.

Hubbs and his family cited Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin as a key factor in the decision to choose Tennessee. Martin played a similar role in the recruitment of Davis, who also considered Clemson.

“That definitely was one of the main reasons why I committed,” Davis told “My relationship with Coach Martin and coach (Tracy) Webster, I talk to those guys a lot. He’ll help me on the court and off the court. I just feel like it was the best place for me.”

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Hoopster Harris Says He Might Return To UT

Sophomore-to-be Tobias Harris says he might bypass the NBA draft and return to Tennessee next season.  That’s not a shock by any stretch as Harris’ draft stock has shifted back and forth from top 20 pick to early second round pick and back.  A probable lockout in the NBA — which faces a tougher labor battle than the NFL — will likely play a role in his thinking as well.

But according to The Knoxville News Sentinel, it also sounds as though Harris is connecting with new UT coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff.

“I think the coaching staff is really a great group of guys; they are pretty much amazing,” Harris said yesterday.  “I think people need to give them more respect.  Coach Martin, he’s tough, and a lot of people don’t know that.  He’s pushing me, not only in these workouts, but as a person, also.”

Harris plans to enter the draft and test the waters without signing with an agent.  Teammate Scotty Hopson plans on doing the same.  But Hopson is not on UT’s campus — though Martin says he’s somehow keeping up with his studies — and it’s believed he’ll likely leave for professional ball in Europe if the NBA doesn’t come calling.

As for Harris’ decision to go through workouts at Tennessee: “I’m just here because there’s a chance I could come back.  I’m just going to work out with the team and do everything with the team because the workouts we’re doing are pretty much like pro workouts.”

Harris made the SEC’s All-Freshman team and was a second-team All-SEC player overall last season.

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