Ole Miss has reportedly made their decision on a new men’s head basketball coach.
Multiple reports indicate that the Rebels have hired Middle Tennessee’s Kermit Davis as the replacement for Andy Kennedy, who was let go midseason. Davis has served as the head coach of the Blue Raiders since 2002 and has led MTU to the NCAA Tournament three times. His most significant win came when the #15 seed upset the #2 seed, Michigan State, during March Madness in 2016. Middle Tennessee has also won three C-USA regular season titles since joining the conference, including this season’s title. Davis’ squad was on the bubble for this year’s NCAA tournament, but a first-round upset in their conference tournament left them on the outside looking in.
Davis is a Leakesville, Mississippi native, and ironically, he played at Mississippi State from 1980-82. During his coaching career, Davis has served as a head coach at Idaho twice (1988-1990 & 1996-1997), Texas A&M (1990-91), and served as an assistant at LSU (1997-2002) before taking the MTU job. Idaho advanced to the NCAA tournament twice under Davis’ leadership. Davis’ run at A&M was short, and ended with NCAA sanctions levied against the program after a rules violation regarding the transfer of a player from Syracuse.
Davis will be tasked with leading the Rebels in the wake a tumultuous 2017-18 season after many thought that the team was set up for success with a talented roster. Ole Miss finished last in the SEC with a 5-13 conference record and a 12-20 overall record. Despite the disappointing season, Athletic Director Ross Bjork discussed how the program is ready to rebound. In the press conference announcing Kennedy’s departure, Bjork spoke about what he would look for in a new coach.
“The best coach. That could fit a lot of different things. Obviously, recruiting is paramount. That foundation, we have a lot to sell, we have resources, we have made a commitment and are willing to do more to move ahead. This is a great job. This is a destination job and now we have this building, the Tuohy Center and the SEC better than it has ever been. This is an attractive job in college basketball. We will go after the best coach. Whoever that is, what their background is will be determined to find the best coach.”
Davis will replace Kennedy, who stepped down after 12 seasons at the helm of the Rebel program and left as the program’s all-time winningest head coach. Davis does have a familiarity with the Ole Miss program and has had their number in years past, going 4-1 against Kennedy’s Rebels. The most recent matchup was won by MTU, a 77-58 thrashing early on in the 2017-18 season.
No official announcement has been made by Ole Miss on the potential hire. Middle Tennessee is currently in the NIT.