Let me start by saying that I was OK with giving Andy Kennedy another year to figure some things out.
He was our winningest basketball coach of all time. He was undermined by an administration who wanted him to fail. He hadn’t capitalized quickly enough on the Pavilion in recruiting, but a crop of Memphis and North Mississippi players could possibly swing the tide. Then, he decided it best to leave and head to the greener pastures of the SEC Network.
In stepped Kermit Davis.
Davis’ resume was fine, and he’s said all the right things to pass the Rebel fan base litmus test of a new coach. But for all that, his biggest contribution, which immediately puts him ahead of Kennedy in the ‘crootin game, is his social media presence.
Davis just gets it when it comes to retweeting and liking on Twitter and being a part of the larger university social media plan. Kennedy never wanted any part of it, he never had a Twitter account and maybe he just wanted to do it his way. But, ultimately, his way got him fired in many respects.
Already, we’ve seen our new head basketball coach in Ole Miss video productions pushed out to the social media masses featuring a faux Kermit the Frog. We’ve seen him pump up his player’s accomplishments and post smiling pictures with fans.
Although @RebelCoachDavis has been working hard since taking over the program, things would be easier if he could get his own office. #KermitVsKermit— Ole Miss Basketball (@OleMissMBB) July 25, 2018
https://t.co/OfUtlrTiZc #HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/KnDslaDppz
So why does this matter to Rebel fans?
The perception that Davis cares goes a long way.
Davis tweets about Rebel club meetings that he attends across the state — Ripley and Pike County most recently — and he pumps up accomplishments for his players in academics and on the court.
What a turnout in Ripley! Great group of Ole Miss Rebels! We look forward to seeing all in the Pavilion! Hotty Toddy https://t.co/OpAGjmJmqC— Kermit Davis (@RebelCoachDavis) August 15, 2018
It shows he cares about the fans, and he wants them to be as engaged as he is in the program. It wasn’t that Andy Kennedy wasn’t passionate enough, because anyone who saw him coach could tell that - it’s that he never took the step into the 21st century to show what else was going on in the program.
The most we would see from a Kennedy-led team on a pre-season trip to Canada would be a press release from the university a day or two after the game at best. CKD capitalized on the trip and put out interviews, photos of team building events and even threw in an anniversary shout out to his wife back home.
Twitter can be your demise or your best friend if used the proper way.
Kermit is the perfect amount of active on everyone’s favorite online news and social media service. He will usually just retweet the Ole Miss men’s basketball account, building his brand and helping to get that name out there to anyone and everyone who follows him and stays in tune with the comings and goings of Ole Miss hoops.
But, he also gives plenty of love to current players and their accomplishments on Twitter. It’s simple but folks respond well to a head coach of any sport admiring and applauding the effort of his players and coaches.
The brand Davis is building is paying off on the recruiting trail
Show me a highly-touted basketball recruit without constant Twitter activity. Davis’ constant social media presence will be noticed by the 15-to-18 year-old high school athletes he is recruiting.
The recruiting trail so far has been good for the tea sippin’ lizard coach. Kermie has locked down seven players in the 2018 class, completely overhauling a roster in months time. Four-star prospect Blake Hinson should be able to immediately contribute as a scoring wing while forwards K.J. Buffen and Luis Rodriguez add desperately needed depth on a team that would’ve been down to a handful of scholarship players.
D.J. Jeffries, a 2019 top-50 player who was all but sewed up to Memphis, has scheduled an official visit to Ole Miss. Antavion Collum, a top-150 player out of Memphis, will also officially visit and lists Ole Miss in his top five. Big man Rodney Howard, a 6’10 three-star center out of South Carolina, is committed in the 2019 class with some recruiting services listing him as a top-150 guy.
More importantly, Davis’ social media strategy will more quickly endear him to a fanbase who loves their leaders to be real people, and sometimes that makes all the difference in donations, season ticket sales and support to get a lagging program back to the NCAA tournament in short order.
Will Twitter followers and clever emojis win games? No. But, the point remains, a good Twitter presence is better than no presence at all.