By Mike Jones
Has it only been four days since Mark Turgeon resigned at Texas A&M to go to Maryland?
Seems like longer than that. Maybe because of the 10-12 hours days spent talking and texting or on the Internet, trying to separate fact from fiction regarding Turgeon’s successor. Some days, the separation is clear. Some days it varies from hour to hour.
It has come to this: if I had to guess right now, I’d say Murray State’s Billy Kennedy will be introduced as the Aggies next coach sometime early next week.
That’s not just a wild guess, but it’s not drop-dead-solid-perfect sure enough for me go stop-the-presses crazy with it—to write it as fact. The sources from which I’ve gleaned that information are good enough for me to believe there is some veracity. But that could have changed since we last talked.
I still have the feeling there well could be a mystery guest out there. Someone no one has mentioned, an established coach not entirely happy with a seemingly comfortable job who could be lured away. Someone like a Lon Kruger, coaxed out of Las Vegas for Oklahoma.
But logic, which can cloud the issue in these matters, favors Kennedy over, say, Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson — who some contend is/has been a consideration.
Some Aggies will remember Kennedy as an assistant coach during the infamous stopover of one Kermit Davis (1990-91). Davis followed the unceremonious firing of the late, great Shelby Metcalf. Davis' only team finished 8-21, after which he resigned amidst an NCAA investigation that centered on some nefarious dealings with street agent Rob Johnson and the attempt to arrange a transfer of a former Syracuse player to Aggieland.
There were other things, as I remember, enough to warrant the NCAA to slap A&M with two years' probation.
I bring that up only because others have and others will. I am told that the statute of limitation has run on how that time should affect Kennedy’s standing — as well it should have. Just a young coach in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Kennedy has rebounded handsomely. After 13 years as an assistant, he had success as a head coach at both Centenary and Southeastern Louisiana. Two consecutive Southland Conference titles (2004, ’05) later he landed at Murray State. In five seasons with the Racers (107-53), he’s never finished lower than second in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Two years ago, Kennedy’s team upset Vanderbilt in the NCAA Tournament, then lost 54-52 to Butler on the latter’s way to the NCAA Tournament championship game against Duke.
Though Kennedy has no apparent Texas ties other than that one season, he’s recruited the state and grew up in New Orleans, played at Southeastern Louisiana. It appears he certainly would be a better fit than Ben Jacobson, a North Dakota native who’s never coached in a warm climate.
NBA-oriented Jeff Van Gundy has told A&M’s Bill Byrne and John Thornton that though intrigued, he’s not interested. University of North Texas coach Johnny Jones and Louisana-Lafayette's Bob Marlin have not been contacted, according to their respective athletic directors.
Kennedy isn’t Buzz Williams. He isn’t Tad Boyle. But he could be a good hire for Texas A&M. That could change between now and then. And probably will. Right on deadline of course.
Mike Jones, 817-390-7760