Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coaching Carousal -- Another One Falls in the SEC

Mark Gottfried's sudden (and less-than-voluntary?) resignation may have initiated a general house cleaning in the SEC as Georgia's AD Damon Evans fired Bulldog head coach Dennis Felton Thursday morning, 8 hours after the Bulldogs' 26 loss to Billy Donovan's Florida team. Felton, the Dean of SEC basketball coaches, dodged the bullet last spring when Georgia unexpectedly ran the table at the SEC post season tournament and earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAAs. A rocky 9-11 start, exacerbated by an 0-5 start to the SEC season, triggered the mid-season ouster. Interesting that the local press actually (as exemplied by Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal and Constituion) applauded the move, rather than question the timing and example set by the AD. I guess that is the way they do things in the SEC.

Felton is the 6th SEC head coach to resign under duress or be fired outright since the Florida Gators won the National Championship in 2007. That is half of the conference's coaches. In less than three seasons. And if Pat Forde (see below) is to be believed, there may be another SEC ouster at season's end.

While ESPN's Pat Forde focused part of his latest Forde's Minutes column on nine other head coaches (four in the Big East alone...) who are under increased pressure this season, he appears to have ignored, aside from the mention of Felton and Gottfried, and a note that Auburn's (SEC also) Jeff Lebo might have problems, the significant turnover in the SEC coaching ranks.

Two early names in the mix as replacements include Minnesota's Tubby Smith (proposed by the same Terence Moore who cheered Felton's ouster -- not sure why Tubby would return to the conference, and especially to a school that fired its coach mid-season...) and Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, suggested by Hoops Weiss.

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