Wednesday, December 26, 2012
When new coaches are hired in basketball and football at most programs you are going to hear the word patience.
Unless a coach is hired to lead a traditional power program, such as Alabama in football or Kentucky in basketball, every coach tells the fan base to have patience and give them time.
In Mississippi, we have patience with basketball coaches, but not football coaches—football coaches are expected to win right away.
At Southern Miss, M.K. Turk coached for 20 years (1976-96) and only produced two NCAA Tournament appearances. James Green got eight years with no NCAA bids, and Larry Eustachy spent eight years at USM and just last year got the Golden Eagles into the big dance before leaving.
Ellis Johnson, however, was only given one season as head football coach. After Southern Miss finished 0-12, Johnson was not even allowed a second season to see if he could begin a turnaround before he was shown the door. I believe Southern Miss made the right decision with Johnson, but if he coached the basketball team and he finished with a terrible first year, would he get to hang around? Would USM fans even notice if the basketball team finished as lackluster a season as football did?
Richard Williams spent 12 years at Mississippi State and only went to the big dance three times (he did have the school’s only final-four appearance to his credit). Bulldogs fans will remember that Jackie Sherrill spent 13 seasons in Starkville, but patience had run out way before he decided to call it quits.
Rick Stansbury got 14 seasons to lead the Bulldogs basketball program, but never led the program past the second round of the NCAA Tournament. On the other hand, Sylvester Croom was fired after five seasons and just one bowl appearance. If Croom coached basketball, would he have been given more time if during his five years, he had produced a single NCAA Tournament bid? It makes you wonder.
Ole Miss hasn’t even been to the NCAA Tournament since 2002, but Andy Kennedy has gotten six seasons at the helm of the Rebels basketball since he was hired in 2006. His predecessor, Rod Barnes, got eight seasons in Oxford and didn’t reach any post-season tournament his last four seasons. David Cutcliffe had only one losing season at Ole Miss and the school fired him after that season—despite the fact that Cutcliffe’s final season came the year after Eli Manning used up all his eligibility and was drafted into the NFL with the number one pick of the draft.
After Cutcliffe, Ole Miss gave Ed Orgeron just three years before sending him out the door for Houston Nutt. To be fair to the Rebels, there were no bowl bids during Orgeron era.
Nutt’s time was over in Oxford after just two losing seasons after reaching back-to-back Cotton Bowls the two years before that. This led to the Hugh Freeze era that just finished year one with even wins and losses.
Freeze time at Oxford is already on the clock with the career arch of football coaches. Kennedy might still be at Ole Miss, leading the Rebels to the NIT, long after Freeze has been fired.