Late last week, men's basketball coach Stan Heath was fired from the University of South Florida after seven years with the Bulls program. USF finished dead last in the AAC this year, going 3-15 in conference play and 12-20 overall. Shortly after Heath's firing, the Tampa Tribune listed our Andy Kennedy as a possible replacement, along with former UCLA coach Ben Howland and current Marquette coach Buzz Williams.
Kennedy, whose Ole Miss Rebels failed to earn a bid to even the NIT this year after a 19-14 season, denies this rumor, dismissing it as "speculation." This raises two pretty interesting questions:
- Is there fire behind this smoke? Is Andy Kennedy legitimately interested in what is - per my biased fan perspective - a somewhat lateral move? While I imagine that the Mississippi native may be keen to stay in the SEC, I have to think that he could think it time to move on after nearly a decade in Oxford with just one NCAA appearance to show for it.
- How do we feel about this? Is Andy Kennedy the guy who has made Ole Miss basketball a fairly competitive program, at least when compared to his immediate predecessor? Or is he a guy who has almost always found ways to disappoint when on the cusp of something significant; the guy always on the wrong side of the bubble? Furthermore, is this a win-win for those of us in the latter camp? Can we say farewell to Andy Kennedy without firing him, avoiding both media backlash and the scaring away of potential suitor replacements?
Even if Andy Kennedy's right, and this is indeed "speculation" regarding Stan Heath's replacement in Tampa, it's still fodder for discussion about Andy Kennedy as a coach and the future of the Ole Miss basketball program, with or whitout him.