Ole Miss basketball is currently in need of a head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams. That’s both a blessing and a curse, because while it affords athletics director Ross Bjork a fairly variegated smorgasbord of options to lead the programs forward, nevertheless it also places those programs in the unenviable position of having to work through a coaching search and Year 1 scenario next season. Very fun.
No matter, though, because the Rebs’ particular blip on the national college basketball conversation’s collective radar shines out rather faintly for writers and fans alike, what with Oxford not the most desirable landing spot for hoops headmen, and the very real fact that Ole Miss knifed a head men’s basketball coach that in the end had no business getting a pink slip.
With the firings of Mark Fox and Kevin Ollie from Georgia and UConn, respectively, over the weekend, Ole Miss basketball’s coaching star dimmed all the more, insofar as both other destinations are far more attractive and lucrative gigs in the current college hoops landscape.
This brings us to Rebel basketball’s station in that menagerie, and one Earl Grant. Again.
We’ve been here before: Grant would be a sneakily smart hire.
Grant brought the College of Charleston back from a 9-24 torpedo of a season in 2014-15 to a No. 13 seed in the big dance in just four years. For that fact alone, he’s an attractive option. He’s coached under Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, and did a dish over at Clemson, which is a recently remade hotbed of college hoops.
Grant makes even more sense for Ole Miss hoops right now, given that Thad Matta and any other big coaching name is waiting out there in the wind, and presumably for a Georgia or a UConn. Earl Grant has no such prospects as it stands that we know of — which is in no way a slam on his ability to lead large basketball men — but should CofC make a run in this year’s NCAA tournament, he’ll be high on a number of programs’ hot boards heading into the offseason.
And that run would include toppling none other than Auburn in the tourney’s opening round.
Here, then, is why Ole Miss should steal Earl Grant off the market.
Consider this. What if Grant and his CofC Cougars upset No. 4 Auburn in the first round of this year’s big dance? It doesn’t really matter what CofC does after that. By hiring Grant after an Auburn upset, Ole Miss has trolled the hell out of The Plains, because the first Ole Miss coach Pearl will have faced next season would be one Earl Grant, who blasted him out of the tournament the previous year.
This is also why Ole Miss basketball fans should root for College of Charleston.
Auburn and Tennessee co-won this year’s regular season SEC title, and Bruce Pearl is a throaty, abrasive motherfucker. Should Earl Grant rip off an upset win of the Tigers — which would be hilarious for everyone outside of Auburn, Ala. — he immediately hits the short list of virtually everyone in the country in need of a hoops helmsman.
And that’s just what Grant is. He’s learned from the best. He’s taken a mid-major mid-loser CofC program to the dance in year four. He’s a good damn coach, and he needs to be in Oxford before someone else steals him up.
And he also gets to coach next season against Bruce fucking Pearl, whom he upset in the previous year’s NCAA tournament.
Finally, how hilarious that Bruce Pearl would face off against Grant after losing to him in the tournament’s first round?
This point bears repeating. The Grant era at Ole Miss would begin before it actually began, and how hysterical would that be? Bruce Pearl would have to coach against the last dude that beat him in real tournament competition. We all need this, especially because Grant hates people. I’ve talked to him.
If anything, it would be another excuse to use this:
See you next season, Bruce.