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SEC Basketball coaching changes represent conference’s culture shift

The SEC is shaking things up this post-season, and the conference will, at this point, be welcoming at least four new coaches come next basketball season. That’s not including LSU’s Will Wade, who will presumably part ways with the Tigers as their investigation continues to unfold. If Wade is fired, it’ll surpass the highest total of SEC basketball coaching changes (five) in the past decade.

Here’s a look at the conference’s newcomers:

Buzz Williams

School: Texas A&M

Replacing: Billy Kennedy (eight seasons)

Previously: Virginia Tech. Kennedy finished his time with the Hokies with a record of 100-69, and he took them to three straight NCAA Tournaments for the first time in program history. Before that, he spent six seasons at Marquette and made five NCAA Tournaments. He’s coached in the Sweet Sixteen four times.

Williams is returning to A&M – he was an assistant under Billy Gillispie with the Aggies during one of the program’s recent upswings. He helped improve their win total by 14 games in just one season (2003-04 season to 2004-05 season). Last season, the Aggies finished with a disappointing 14-18 overall record and a 6-12 conference record, so Williams will be looking to make similar improvements again.

Williams’ career coaching record is 253-155.

Jerry Stackhouse

School: Vanderbilt

Replacing: Bryce Drew (three seasons)

Previously: Memphis Grizzlies assistant. An 18-year NBA veteran (he once led the NBA in points, averaging 29.8 per game during his 2000-01 season with the Pistons), Stackhouse was the G League Coach of the Year in 2017. He spent two years as an NBA assistant, including stops with Toronto and Memphis. His experience in the Tennessee region could make for some interesting recruiting battles against Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway.

Stackhouse recently completed an executive education program at Harvard centered on sports business, and he’s agreed to a six-year contract with Vanderbilt.

Nate Oats

School: Alabama

Replacing: Avery Johnson (four seasons)

Previously: University of Buffalo. He spent four years with the Bulls for his first collegiate head coaching job. Last season, he finished with a 32-4 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the Mid-American Conference. He’s 97-43 and 52-20 in the MAC.

Oats led the Bulls to three MAC tournament championships and three NCAA tournament appearances in four years. They made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. He’s agreed to a five-year contract with the Tide.

Eric Musselman

School: Arkansas

Replacing: Mike Anderson (eight seasons)

Previously: University of Nevada. During his four years with the Wolfpack, Musselman earned three consecutive NCAA Tournament bids, including one Sweet Sixteen appearance (2018). He finished his time in Nevada with a 110-34 record, including 28 or more wins in each of the last three seasons.

As it stands now, 10 of the 14 head coaches in the SEC have made an appearance in the tournament’s Sweet Sixteen.

For the first time in a long time, teams other than Kentucky are finding success in the “football” conference. Tennessee spent plenty of time as the No. 1 seed this season, while Auburn won the conference tournament and advanced to the Final Four for the first time in program history. LSU, allegations aside, won the conference’s regular-season title. These three schools, traditionally known as football powerhouses, have been led by strong coaches who have changed the culture – and expectations – of basketball at their respective universities.

No longer will coaches be given such a long leash – that ended with Andy Kennedy’s departure from Ole Miss after 12 seasons last year. Now, John Calipari is the longest-tenured coach in the SEC, and he’s not going anywhere (shoutout lifetime contract). But for the rest of the conference, the narrative is a little different.

While Billy Kennedy and Mike Anderson were given eight seasons at their respective schools, Bryce Drew and Avery Johnson were given just three and four, respectively. There are plenty of factors that could have helped initiate this shift, but the creation of the SEC Network in 2014 played a significant role, as it monetized basketball in the south in a way it simply wasn’t before. There’s more on the line for universities and their faculty, and they don’t have time to wait around for above-average results. Drew and Johnson’s short tenures create a small sample size, but it shows a piece of a bigger picture: the SEC is committed to improvement, and coaches will have a limited amount of time to prove it.

Here are how the conference’s school compare over the last 12 seasons:

Alabama: 4 coaches and 2 NCAA trips

Arkansas: 3 coaches and 4 NCAA trips

Auburn: 3 coaches and 2 NCAA trips

Florida: 2 coaches and 8 NCAA trips

Georgia: 3 coaches and 3 NCAA trips

Kentucky: 2 coaches and 10 NCAA trips

LSU: 4 coaches (pending Wade news) and 3 NCAA trios

Mississippi State: 3 coaches and 3 NCAA trips

Missouri: 4 coaches and 6 NCAA trips

Ole Miss: 2 coaches and 3 NCAA trips

South Carolina: 3 coaches and 1 NCAA trip

Tennessee: 4 coaches and 7 NCAA trips

Texas A&M: 3 coaches and 6 NCAA trips

Vanderbilt: 3 coaches and 6 NCAA trips


Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

7 Comments for SEC Basketball coaching changes represent conference’s culture shift

  1. krautdog
    6:52 pm April 7, 2019 Permalink

    The SEC has really upgraded their coaching(exception Georgia).

  2. Smyrna_Cat
    1:17 am April 8, 2019 Permalink

    SEC teams want to win. Pure and simple.

  3. oruacat2
    4:08 am April 8, 2019 Permalink

    Stackhouse versus that bigmouth Hardaway should be really, really interesting.

    • makeitstop
      8:35 am April 8, 2019 Permalink

      I can’t wait for that. He’ll go right after Penny. I never much liked Stackhouse and do like Bryce Drew but I’m not worried about recruiting against him and the Penny v Stack battle will be fun to watch.

    • makeitstop
      8:42 am April 8, 2019 Permalink

      Actually Stackhouse scored more points in the NBA career-wise than Penny, I was surprised by that. Penny was a 4x all star and Stack 2 but Stack actually has real coaching experience. Let the games begin lol. Anything that runs Penny out of Memphis faster is ok w me.

  4. BigJohnC
    7:06 am April 8, 2019 Permalink

    Don’t you mean “Williams finished his time with the hokies”

  5. maxblackanvil
    12:04 am April 9, 2019 Permalink

    I’ll believe the SEC is committed to improvement when their officials get better.