One SEC coach has been fired. Another has chosen “on his own” — ahem — to retire.
Might a third SEC coach be on his way out of the league this March?
UAB has just announced that Mike Davis has been fired after his sixth season with the Blazers. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com already reports that “sources have told CBSSports.com that UAB might try to lure Andy Kennedy from Ole Miss.”
Why Kennedy? Because after transferring from NC State, the current Ole Miss coach played under legendary Blazer coach Gene Bartow at UAB from 1988 through 1991.
Kennedy just wrapped up his sixth season in Oxford. In that time he’s won 20+ games five times (also losing double-digit games in each of those seasons). He’s never finished better than 9-7 or worse than 7-9 in the SEC. He’d led the Rebels to five NITs including a one-game stay in that tourney this year and two previous trips to the semifinals in New York.
Would Kennedy be interested in Alabama-Birmingham’s job? Well — if you read our take on Rick Stansbury earlier today — you can probably guess that we think he should be. In this day and age, coaches need to move whenever they get a chance. Every five or six years, it’s time to restart the clock in a new venue before the fans grow restless.
Mississippi will soon be bringing in a new athletic director to replace Pete Boone, the man who hired Kennedy and stood by him after an embarrassing arrest for a booze-fueled altercation with a Cincinnati cabbie in 2008. Here’s the thing about new athletic directors: most like to hire their own guys. And if Ole Miss hadn’t just replaced its football coach and wasn’t currently looking for a new AD, it’s quite possible Kennedy’s goose would have already been cooked for missing the NCAAs again this season.
Kennedy’s contract runs through 2014 and he did not receive an extension after last season. He currently makes $1.3 million annually to coach in the worst arena in the Southeastern Conference.
Davis made just $625,000 a year and his contract had no built in bonuses for winning the C-USA title or other individual honors. Would UAB be able to shake loose enough money to get Kennedy’s attention?
Either way, Kennedy should listen to his alma mater if it comes calling. Pay cut or not, it’s easier to find a job when you have a job. And in another year — if things don’t go well in Oxford in 2012-13 — Kennedy may well be out of a job and looking for a new one.
It’s a step down from Ole Miss of the SEC to UAB of Conference USA. There’s no way to spin that one. But it might beat being forced by a new boss to step off a plank a year from now.