Ole Miss’ Kennedy Plays Down Rumors Of Interest In South Florida; Rebel Fans Should Be Careful What They Wish For
March 17th, 2014 03:39 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: NCAA, Ole Miss, SEC, UM
Judging from the reaction on Twitter and messageboards, many, many Ole Miss fans would love to see coach Andy Kennedy depart Oxford for the open job at South Florida. ”Don’t let the door hit you,” seems to be the most common refrain.
This view ignores one rather large question that a Kennedy defection would raise — Just who is UM gonna get that’s better? Wait, we know. Bruce Pearl. Of course. The man will have his choice between the traditional hoops hotbeds of Ole Miss and Auburn. Color us skeptical.
Now back to reality — Just who could the Rebels lure to Oxford? State law prevents the school from giving out contracts of longer than four years (disadvantage). The school typically sits at the bottom of the SEC with Mississippi State when it comes to the US Department of Education’s annual breakdown of athletic departments’ finances (disadvantage). No matter how you cook the books, the Rebs just aren’t on the same financial footing as some of their SEC rivals. The Tad Pad is finally set to be replaced, but the new venue will seat just 9,500 (disadvantage). You can donate to the cause here, by the way (apparently Fox’s Shepard Smith is “Fired Up!”). There’s also the issue of racism that must be dealt with on the recruiting trail every time a few morons hang a noose on a statue and pick the scab off old self-inflicted wounds (disadvantage).
But let’s say AD Ross Bjork can turn all those issues into positives. There’s still one other thing that might deter someone like a Jim Boeheim from leaving Syracuse for Ole Miss (sarcasm). That’s the fact that Kennedy has done a pretty good job. In the eyes of any coach on solid-footing the following records look pretty good all things considered: 21-13, 24-11, 16-15, 24-11, 20-14, 20-13, 27-9, 19-14. That’s a .630 winning percentage and six seasons with 20 wins or more. Granted there’s only one NCAA bid in that eight-year stretch, but most coaches realize that the tournament bubble can be pretty unpredictable and Kennedy has lived on the tournament bubble. Plus, it’s not like the NCAA selection committee is doling out bids by the bushel to the SEC right now.
Many a coach will likely look at Kennedy’s record — if he leaves — and wonder if they could do any better. And if seven seasons of 19 or more wins didn’t please the UM masses before, what the heck would those fans expect of a new guy?
Look, we’re not saying Ole Miss can’t reach for the stars. Go for it. But the old line from a Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” flick is worth remembering: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
Someone can win in basketball at Ole Miss. Hell, Kennedy has won at Ole Miss. But replacing Kennedy with a big name — even Bruce Pearl — is going to be tall order for Bjork.
Perhaps Mississippi fans should just look down US 278 a piece if they’re not happy with the words we’ve written here. Mississippi State forced Rick Stansbury to fall on his sword. Stansbury had won 293 games for the Bulldogs and taken them to six NCAA tourneys. He’d rolled up 10 20-win seasons, too. But the Bulldogs barked, Stansbury got the message, and the school was left to hire… Rick Ray. Now, he seems a fine fellow and he might win some games eventually, but Rick Ray was not a name MSU fans were dreaming of when Stansbury was put to sleep. And while State fans blame the last two years — 24-40 overall, 7-29 in the SEC — on Stansbury, there’s no one outside of Starkville who thinks things would have been that bad had Stansbury simply been retained.
For that matter, maybe the Rebels should look to their old rival if indeed Kennedy has interest in the South Florida job, as The Tampa Tribune has reported. We suggest, however, that Ole Miss fans start being a bit more appreciative of 19- and 20-win seasons. Look around the SEC. There aren’t many guys who are doing much better than what Kennedy has done.
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