When Ole Miss hired Kermit Davis, a lot of people were less than thrilled. Count me among them.
Sure, Davis had gotten things together in his final few years, with NCAA tournament appearances in three of five seasons, but he only had two NCAA tournament wins in 16 seasons at MTSU. That’s not great. He also hadn’t shown a proclivity to recruit at a strong level, never landing a single top 150 player at MTSU.
Add to that the university had just whiffed on landing Penny Hardaway who was being courted for his connections to some of the best high school players in the country. Hardaway chose to return to his alma mater, Memphis, after a brief discussion with Ole Miss officials - and with him was going the No. 1 player in the country James Wiseman.
A famous former NBA player with cool Nike commercials and recruiting chops - swing and a miss, but a guy that looks like a basic deacon at any church in the south - yes, please.
Why can’t Ole Miss have nice things?!?
So that was my reasoning.... well, that and the fact that I still was (and still am) furiously angry about the Matt Luke hire and therefore unable to see anything good the athletic department might possibly do. Blinded by the blight so to speak.
Media members made a big deal out of Davis’ introductory press conference comments about how his team would respect the national anthem. They talked about what an un-splashy hire this was. They said it was predictable and boring. I echoed these sentiments.
No seriously, I did. Here’s the proof.
Here’s what I tweeted moments after MTSU unexpectedly lost their conference tournament final. It was super cool and edgy, truly a man in sheer desperation.
Sorry for the night mode. Here’s what I said about how Kermit Davis would inspire nothing and no one...
There was some merit in this argument, other than anything about the hire being awful. It wasn’t an exciting hire, but with the benefit of hindsight, who cares?
Serrel Smith ended up at Maryland where he averaged twelve minutes and three points per game. Anthony Higgs signed with Illinois and missed his freshman year with a foot injury. Blake Hinson started nearly every game for the Rebels, averaging 24 minutes per game with eight points and three rebounds. KJ Buffen played in all 32 games, averaging 21 minutes with 6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. I think Ole Miss, at least in early returns, got the better end of the recruiting turnover.
When a reasonable person asked me why I couldn’t be excited about hiring a good coach, I was really witty with this brilliant quip. Let’s see how that turned out.
Yeah. Not the best turn of events for Juco All-American. Kermit Davis proved to be an exceptional coach who managed to get every ounce of production he could out of this group. I’m not going to restate all the stuff he managed to do this season. You know. You were there.
I’ll leave you with this thought: being proven wrong about Kermit Davis doesn’t make me like Matt Luke anymore.