College basketball is entering hot-seat season, with now-former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy already parting ways with the school.
But which other SEC jobs could open soon?
Yahoo Sports columnist Pat Forde broke down the national coaching landscape in the sport and included two SEC names — Georgia’s Mark Fox and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl — as men who could lose their jobs in the coming weeks. Forde listed Fox under a category of coaches “likely” to be pushed out. Meanwhile, Pearl was listed under a category of coaches who could be forced to leave because of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball’s underbelly.
Below are some of Forde’s thoughts on Fox and Pearl.
On Georgia’s Mark Fox:
Mark Fox has been under pressure for years, and the likelihood of missing the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons should mean that time is up. In an SEC that has upgraded its coaching in recent seasons, Fox hasn’t been able to sustain success. The Bulldogs may be making a bid to salvage the season with consecutive upsets of Florida and Tennessee, but at 15-11 and 6-8, it could be too little and too late.
On Auburn’s Bruce Pearl:
Bruce Pearl could well be national Coach of the Year if not for The Investigation Thing, which has resulted in the firing or suspension of five people associated with Auburn basketball — but not Pearl. He’s confident he will be OK when all is said and done. That could well be wishful thinking.
Georgia is struggling through a disappointing season, but Auburn has been one of the nation’s largest surprises in recent months. The Tigers are 23-4 overall with an 11-3 conference record, but it’s hard not to consider their season without the program’s inclusion in the FBI investigation.
It remains to be seen what will happen at Georgia and Auburn. But it wouldn’t be shocking to learn that both programs will have openings before next season.
These are strange days for college basketball, indeed.