I believe if you put Buzz in charge of Alabama's players, the Tide would still be 19-4 or thereabouts. Likewise, if you put Gottfried in charge of Tennessee's players, I believe the Vols would still be 11-13 or thereabouts. The same goes for Buzz coaching Donovan's players and vise-versa.
My point is this: Basketball coaching isn't brain surgery. Heck, Jerry Green won 89 games in four years at UT. Does anybody really think he was a brilliant bench coach? Of course not. He wasn't a great coach ... he was an average coach surrounded by great players.
That's not to imply that coaching has no bearing on the outcome of college basketball games. I think having Tubby Smith on the bench is worth 5-10 points per game for Kentucky. I also think South Carolina wins an occasional game because of Dave Odom's coaching. After those two, however, I think the other 10 SEC coaches are pretty much on the same level.
Donovan has a big-time reputation in some quarters, yet he's just 5-3 in eight meetings with Buzz. Kevin Stallings has some pop after taking Vanderbilt to the NCAA Sweet 16 last year but he's 4-4 against Buzz and was nearly fired two years ago. Rick Stansbury would be struggling at Mississippi State if he hadn't lucked into a dynamic Baylor transfer named Lawrence Roberts a couple of years ago.
I'm not suggesting Buzz should be brought back for 2005-06. Nor am I suggesting he should NOT be back. Frankly, I'm glad Mike Hamilton has to make that decision and not me. Tennessee had a better basketball team when Buzz arrived than it does four years later, and that's cause for alarm. But I think the slippage can be traced to Peterson's mistakes as a recruiter, moreso than his mistakes as a coach.
The losses to Alabama and Florida -- at least in my mind -- underscore that point.
For what it's worth, here's how I'd rate the SEC basketball coaches:
A- Tubby Smith, Kentucky
B- Dave Odom, South Carolina
C+ Stan Heath, Arkansas
C+ Rick Stansbury, Miss. State
C+Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
C Mark Gottfried, Alabama
C-Rod Barnes, Ole Miss
C- Buzz Peterson, UT
C- Billy Donovan, Florida
C- John Brady, LSU
JURY'S STILL OUT: Dennis Felton, Georgia ... Jeff Lebo, Auburn( I) Incomplete