Photo by Mark Humphrey (Associated Press)
The Kevin Stallings era at Vanderbilt is apparently over. It is time. Stallings is reportedly headed to Pittsburgh. Sometimes organizations and coaches parting ways is good for both parties. This appears to be one of those situations. Stallings enjoyed a good career pacing the baseline at Memorial Gym. Over the course of a 17-year stint at Vanderbilt, Stallings enjoyed 7 trips to the NCAA Tournament while getting the Commodores to the Sweet 16 twice. Vanderbilt won at least 20-games eight times including the 25-win season in 2011-12 when the Commodores won the SEC Tournament. He produced NBA talent and graduated his players. He had a good run. But, it is the right time for it to end.
Vanderbilt basketball has grown stale. Growing up in Nashville, I loved going to Vanderbilt games at Memorial Gym. It was one of the most intense college basketball settings in America, consistently offering Memorial Magic. Not anymore.
Read this backstory on Memorial Magic by Bill Traughber: http://www.vucommodores.com/genrel/012407aaa.html
If you have attended a Vanderbilt basketball game recently, you would have been able to have a nice chat with the people sitting near you, read a good book or enjoy a nap. Vanderbilt needed change. Vanderbilt needs energy and passion. The fan base craves it and deserves it. Kevin Stallings had Vanderbilt in two Sweet Sixteens in 17 seasons. Tennessee has been to five Sweet Sixteens since 2000 and with three different coaches. That’s an indictment, for sure. Of the seven NCAA Tournament appearances by Stallings’ Commodores, Vanderbilt lost in its first game, to double digit seeds. Three times in seventeen seasons, Vanderbilt advanced past their first NCAA Tournament game.
Here are four names I would interview if I were David Williams. I would then choose one and call it a day, assuming one says yes. Will Wade (VCU). He grew up a Vandy fan in Nashville. King Rice (Monmouth). He was a Vanderbilt assistant and a great recruiter. He was the coach of the year in the MAAC this season and his team won the regular season championship. Tommy Amaker (Harvard) He has a top 25 recruiting class for next season, at an IVY League school. And, this one may sound crazy to you, but I would interview Drew Maddux (CPA). He loves Vanderbilt and is a brilliant basketball coach. Spend five minutes with him and you’ll be convinced he could make the jump from High School to the SEC. I also think Yale Coach, James Jones, could get in the mix. I’ll write more about these guys later.
Kevin Stallings is a nice man and a very good basketball coach. I expect him to have success at Pittsburgh. I also expect Vanderbilt to have success with its next coach. This is a Top 5 job in the SEC. Vanderbilt had many successful moments with Kevin Stallings at the helm, but it’s time.