With Donnie Tyndall getting the boot a day after meeting with NCAA officials and Steve Lavin getting fired after asking for more money and an extension from St. John’s, we have a shakeup in the coaching ranks. Any firing, firing or coach leaving will lead to a domino effect of coaches and athletes leaving and taking on new roles. Both openings could impact UGA going forward as far as the aftershock, it will not impact UGA directly.
Tennessee’s roster has been decimated over the past year with transfers and early draft entries and this trend may continue as Tennessee is seen as just starting over again. It’s quite amazing how Bruce Pearl’s exit may in fact be less damaging than Cuonzo Martin being run out of Knoxville. The program at California is looking up while the Tennessee program is in shambles and everyone associated with UT is to blame for this awfulness.
St. John’s had a one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament and Steve Lavin wanted more money and an extension. Fran Fraschilla, a former St. John’s coach himself commented on Twitter:
Once I heard about the Steve LAVIN contract extension talks, I knew it was over for him. Right, @LennRobbins.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) March 27, 2015
So now St. John’s has to find a more cost-effective and probably healthier coach because as inspirational as Steve Lavin was going through treatment for prostate cancer, it was a distraction and a drain on the program. When you have recruits wondering how long you have to live and if you’ll make it through to coach them, that’s not a good thing. Thankfully, Lavin recovered and came back to the sidelines. Steve Lavin deserves another coaching opportunity and he will get one at a power program.
St. John’s fans would love to see Chris Mullin come back to St. John’s and coach, but he’s a broadcaster now, not a coach. Steve Masiello and Richard Pitino are names being tossed around. Masiello is the name that makes the most sense as he is already a rather local guy himself growing up in White Plains, which is just north of The City. Masiello also is coaching at Manhattan, so he would just need to switch boroughs and trade in Riverdale (a nice area in The Bronx) for Jamaica, Queens (Hello Union Turnpike!).
If Masiello is hired by St. John’s, the impact on UGA should be minimal as our recruiting efforts in the New York Tri-State area have been rather slim as is and our assistants are of no use in this area. To be an effective coach at St. John’s, Seton Hall or Rutgers, you better be from Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Bronx or New York counties. If you’re not a New Yorker, then fuhgeddaboutit – you have no business coaching here. This is why Masiello makes sense and Pitino does not.
Richard Pitino has the family surname, but not too much career success to show for it. However, he’s an enticing pick for the Tennessee position. Pitino really had no nexus to the Minnesota position and upon examination of his career is best suited to being back in the Southeast, it doesn’t make him the best guy for the job at UT though. Does Pitino really want to rebuild an entire program from scratch at the beginning of his career? Pitino has only been coaching for three years for two different schools. Is he willing to commit to a challenge that if Tom Crean’s experience is a benchmark, would take 4 years to accomplish the scent of success? Does he have the recruiting, development and relationship chops to be able to get the job done?
Steve Lavin could look at the Tennessee position as an opportunity for another chance, but he may be best suited to waiting for the dominos to fall. Lavin was handed the reins at UCLA from Jim Harrick and he was doing well up until the wheels started to fall off in Year 5 and then it really got ugly in his final year and he was able to grace our television screens on ESPN. Is Lavin capable of rebuilding a tarnished program, not just a program that was merely underachieving? The answer is likely ‘no’.
Tennessee needs someone that is not only appreciative of time considerations to turn things around, but also have thick skin. Michael White is going to be a name tossed around a bit and quite frankly he’s ready for a big time position, the problem is that Tennessee is the wrong way to jump in. Mississippi State was a proud program and then it fell into shambles much like UT, they hired Rick Ray and he never had a chance. Michael White is certainly a better coach than Rick Ray and we all know that, but why should an in demand mid-major coach voluntarily put himself through THAT. White has far more options out there.
If White is going to take an SEC coaching job, it will be at Ole Miss and he may get that opportunity once UT realizes that Andy Kennedy needs a more stable contract situation. Kennedy’s major drawback is a so-called international incident that he regrets deeply. Then there’s the sad loss of consortium on the part of his wife, but that’s neither here nor there. Kennedy turned around Ole Miss Basketball, he’s the reason why they are getting a new arena and the dumpy Tad Pad is vacant. “The Network” doesn’t hurt either.
Ole Miss had four straight losing seasons where they went 55-63 under Rod Barnes before Kennedy came in. Kennedy had to change the program from being a perennial loser and playing in an environment that was a mausoleum and he energized the fanbase winning 20 games or more in 7 of his 9 seasons. Kennedy knows how to turn around a program and his teams play an exciting brand of basketball. Kennedy should be the first call Dave Hart makes, but UT will likely chase after Gregg Marshall and try to get into a bidding war with Alabama in which they both might not get him.
Tennessee’s roster in its current form would not be poachable for UGA with the exception of the 2016 class where it is likely Romello White will decommit from Tennessee, which will give UGA a second chance at landing the big man’s commitment. This is the only thing that will be of direct consequence of the firing of Donnie Tyndall as far as UGA is concerned.