After 12 seasons of Andy Kennedy, the era finally came to an end in 2018 when he decided to step down amid an abysmal season in which his team had practically given up all hope. Under his guidance, Rebel basketball climbed back above the .500 mark in overall record all-time at Ole Miss, won a SEC tournament title, went to the NCAA tournament twice, and set countless records.
Now, a new era is being ushered in.
Kermit Davis, the former Middle Tennessee State head man, has been hired to be the newest Ole Miss Rebel basketball coach.
THE TEA LIZARD IS IN!!!!
247Sports’ Evan Daniels is reporting that the program’s 19th head coach is expected to sign a five-year deal with Ole Miss. The Leakesville, Miss. native did wonders in Murfreesboro, winning 393 games in 16 seasons, 185 of those coming in the Sun Belt and Conference USA. He won two coach of the year awards in 2003 and 2017, two Sun Belt East division titles, three C-USA regular season titles, and two C-USA tournament titles.
Davis really got folks attention in the 2015-2016 season when his squad went 25-10 (13-5) and beat No. 2 seed Michigan State (29-5) as No. 15 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament, virtually destroying EVERYONE’S bracket.
Then, in the 2016-2017 season, the Blue Raiders went 31-5 (17-1) and beat No. 5 seed Minnesota (24-9) in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed.
Despite his last three teams going a combined 80-22 (46-8), the buzz around Kermit is silenced by some doubters, myself included. The SEC is much better, as evidenced by its whopping eight teams that received bids to the NCAA tournament this season, and if Kermit is going to generate any kind of excitement at The Pavilion, he will need to win and win fast.
Not to worry because he has won everywhere he has been.
Coach Davis: a proven winner. pic.twitter.com/a2MVvWZ83z— Ole Miss Basketball (@OleMissMBB) March 15, 2018
Also, the Ole Miss job is very bad. There is scarce in-state basketball talent to pluck from, you share the state with another Power 5, SEC program that has big-time shoe and AAU ties, and there is very little fan support as of now. Despite the Tuohy Center and The Pavilion being big, nice, and fancy, a lot of other people have those same amenities.
Now, I personally doubt the man’s ability to get it done, but he’s a good coach who has won everywhere he’s been (outside of an abysmal one-year stint in College Station in 1990-1991). But, he will need to not only bring wins with him to Mississippi, but a knockout staff that will hit the recruiting trail hard and fast. Can Kermit conjure up a SEC-level staff that can recruit better than Andy Kennedy did in his 12 years in Oxford?
If he is able to get some folks to join him in Oxford, like say former boss and LSU head coach John Brady, then my opinion of this hire quickly changes. Brady recruited at an extremely high level in Baton Rouge, finishing with the 3rd overall class in 2003 and the 13th overall class in 2005. His 2006 team featured three NBA players: Tyrus Thomas (4th overall pick), Glen Davis, and Garrett Temple. And he even went to a Sweet Sixteen and a Final Four.
There IS something to be said about his ability to win games in the NCAA tournament. He has had two huge upsets during his time at MTSU, and that experience and ability to win on the biggest stage can’t be replaced. Now it is time to see if he can do the same at Ole Miss and string a few more wins together, like Kennedy did in 2012-2013.
It took him 10 seasons in Murfreesboro to get to the NCAA tournament and that ain’t going to cut it in Oxford. Ole Miss fans are as pedantic as ever right now and they are begging for a reason to care about basketball.
And it is Kermit’s job to give them one.
If anything, this hire will be good for the memes.