Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss announced Monday that a change will come soon to the Rebels men’s basketball program.
Following the current season, Kennedy will step down as coach after a lengthy run at the school. He’s in his 12th season leading the Rebels, and he owns a 245-154 record with them. Ole Miss has made two NCAA Tournament appearances under his leadership, in 2013 and 2015. The Rebels also appeared in the NIT six times, including a berth in the quarterfinals last season.
The 49-year-old is the longest-tenured men’s basketball coach in the SEC, but Ole Miss is struggling this season. Entering a game against Arkansas on Tuesday, the Rebels are 11-14 with a 4-8 record in the SEC. Ole Miss has never finished a season with a losing record under Kennedy.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg spoke to SEC Country about Kennedy’s impeding departure. Kellogg said Kennedy’s longevity at Ole Miss was notable.
“Any time you go double-digit years at a place, that’s a pretty significant run in this day and age,” Kellogg told SEC Country. “Reasonable success, but I don’t know the full dynamics of the job. I know it’s a fairly challenging one as the conference has gotten better on the basketball side. I think he did as good a job as might be expected in the time that he was there.
“Every circumstance is different. For whatever reason, he and the university felt it was best to get out in front of it. And had they waited, maybe it gives you a little [more] time to think about which direction you go and who might be interested [in the job] and which candidates might be available.
“So if it was something that had been agreed upon, I guess the posture is, ‘Why not sooner rather than later?’ There are pros and cons to both. There may be more pros to having it out there and both parties knowing that’s the status, and you’re actually beginning to turn the page while staying present.”
SEC Country asked Kellogg about potential candidates to replace Kennedy. The analyst said it’s possible for the Rebels to look at names with diverse backgrounds.
“I know there are a lot of good assistant coaches out there that maybe deserve a chance,” Kellogg said. “There are some former head coaches that are biding time. [Former Ohio State coach] Thad Matta is out there, and [former Indiana coach] Tom Crean is out there. Very successful and well-thought-of coaches. I’m sure there are some others that I haven’t named.”
It will be curious to see where Ole Miss searches when replacing Kennedy. The SEC is enjoying a strong season in basketball, with Vanderbilt (9-16) being the only other team in the conference to hold a losing record entering play Tuesday.
With the level of competition rising throughout the SEC, it stands to reason that Ole Miss will try to attract a candidate who’s willing to accept the challenge of making the Rebels a contender for consistent NCAA Tournament berths in a hurry. The Ole Miss job could be a prime opportunity for someone eager to leave his mark within a conference that has improved its reputation in men’s basketball.