Rod Barnes was dismissed yesterday as the men's basketball coach at Ole Miss after eight seasons, counting the one still ongoing.
Already, the "hiring machine" is in full throttle. The administrators at Ole Miss have already compiled a preliminary list of names and are checking out more by the hour.
A committee will be formed to work with the athletic administration in determining and reviewing possible candidates and in the hiring process.
The first question that must entertained by the administration is 'what type of coach is Ole Miss looking for?'
A big name who isn't currently employed but might have some "history?" An up-and-coming head coach at a smaller school? A current head coach at a school comparable to Ole Miss in hoops status and stature? A hot assistant?
Does the administration believe the right guy can bring in talent comparable to Kentucky, Florida, LSU, et al and will thus hire someone known for recruiting? Or will they be looking for someone who has proven he can take a little less talent than the rest of the league he's labored in previously and win with them via coaching them up? Or do they look for a well-rounded individual who can do "a little" of both?
During the search, those are all questions that will have to be analyzed and answered. In the infancy stages of the search, none of that is known at this time.
It appears the folks doing the "hunting" have a variety of candidates who encompass all of those scenarios.
What is known are some names who are under consideration and, as we said, there are all shapes and types on the list.
Former Cincinatti Coach Bob Huggins is certainly an intriguing name that will be checked into. Huggins is a master tactition and recruiter, but he left the Bearcats under a perceived cloud due to a DUI incident. Huggins is a proven winner and would surely generate national attention on the Ole Miss program.
Under the same heading as "currently unemployed," look for recently resigned Indiana Coach Mike Davis to knock on Ole Miss' door. We've heard he's knocked on every door that is open, why would we be any different? Will the Rebs answer the knock? Unlikely, but you never know.
The "up-and-comers" who will be researched and approached, most likely, are Wichita State's Mark Turgeon, Virginia Commonwealth's Jeff Capel and Western Kentucky's Darrin Horn, who will be hot properties at other schools with openings as well. Unless you ask, however, you will not receive. We cannot predict their interest level at this stage of the game, but why wouldn't they at least be interested in an SEC opportunity?
It is known Indiana and Missouri are open. Indiana is likely to be filled by Iowa Coach Steve Alford, an Indiana grad and former star. That would leave Iowa open. Under ground, talk has it that Dave Odom may retire at South Carolina and there is rumbling that Rob Evans may be out at Arizona State. Those are all attractive basketball venues that Ole Miss will have to compete against for some of the up-and-comers mentioned.
South Alabama's John Pelphrey, with his Kentucky pedigree; Brad Brownwell at UNC-Wilmington; Dana Altman at Creighton; Murray State Coach Mick Cronin; and Mississippi native Andy Kennedy, who seems to be openly campaigning for the job and is currently the interim head coach at Cincy, also fall in this category, but maybe not quite as "hot" in coaching circles around the nation. And that is not to say one of them wouldn't be a perfect fit for Ole Miss, just to point out that when talking to members of the coaching fraternity, Turgeon, Capel and Horn come up quicker in conversation.
There may be a possibility, via grapevine talk, that a current coach at a "big" school may be on the disgruntled side and might entertain an offer from Ole Miss, but that would strictly be a back door deal right up until the time it would be announced due to his current employment status. His job is secure where he is, but he's said to be unhappy and is said to be looking for a change. Obviously, we can't name him at this point, if ever. Is that just talk? Maybe, maybe not.
And what of UAB Coach Mike Anderson? The thinking here is that Ole Miss will make a run at the successful mentor, but the fit will probably not be there. Anderson is fairly content at UAB and is making almost as much as Ole Miss pays now. Also, he's said to be in line for "more prominent" hoops jobs in the future. If Anderson is a fit, however, obviously he's a deserving candidate.
Is there any truth to the Elston Turner talk? With his Ole Miss background and NBA career experience, he's intriguing, but the early word we are getting is that Elston is very happy where he is and has little interest. Hope the early word is wrong. We'd love to see Turner consider the post.
And what about the successful assistant route? There is nobody who has been mentioned who has had more success on different levels and has more Mississippi and Mid-South ties than current Florida State Associate Head Coach Stan Jones. It's said he has been the "brains" behind every program he's been in, plus he knows the lay of the land at Ole Miss/Mississippi. LSU's John Treloar also brings a nice worksheet to any interview table. Jerry Dunn at West Virginia is also an assistant who has a good rep in the coaching world.
Certainly this is only a starting list, but most names on here have merit and will be - at the very least - researched by Ole Miss.
The list could change drastically and - our guess here - will be added to and deleted from fairly regularly as initial contact is made and interest from both parties is weighed and determined.
Hold on to your hats. This will be an interesting roller coster ride and we haven't even reached the first turn.
Who will Reb hoops turn to?
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