Kermit Davis Jr. good fit for Ole Miss, Oxford: Think Mike Bianco
Kermit Davis Jr. has been the Mike Bianco of MTSU and Murfreesboro.
He’s a rock; articulate in the finer points of the game; accessible; humble; a family man; comfortable in the community environment; willing to discipline; and ultra-competitive.
That’s why Kermit Davis Jr. is likely to become the next Ole Miss men’s basketball coach. What Rebel fan doesn’t want another Bianco, the Ole Miss baseball coach since 2000.
First, Davis’ Middle Tennessee State University team must compete in the NIT, having lost an opportunity for another NCAA tournament appearance with an upset loss in the Conference USA tournament. Some will wonder why Davis, with the Ole Miss job at his fingertips, didn’t just ditch the NIT, leaving his MTSU players on their own.
But that’s not Kermit Davis Jr.
In 1990? Who knows?
He was a different coach then, a young hotshot who got himself into trouble. It’s ironic that Davis, a leading candidate for the Ole Miss basketball job, was once blacklisted by the NCAA for getting not one but two programs on probation.
Texas A&M asked Davis to leave after just one season because his team lost 21 games and it was clear he was involved in rules violations.
Davis had to rehabilitate professionally by coaching at a community college, fighting his way back into division 1 coaching by scratching and clawing for respect in tiny steps. But over time, he has moved a very long way.
That’s why that two-year suspension by the NCAA doesn’t hurt his chances to become the coach at Ole Miss. It was a long, long time ago, and experience is a great teacher.
That young hotshot coach has now matured into a seasoned veteran who understands the rules of the game. When Kermit Davis Jr. landed at MTSU in 2002, it was softened by a good dose of humility that had shaped the hotshot coach into a more patient leader.
In Murfreesboro, Davis and his family meld the same way Mike Bianco and his family meld in Oxford. They are a vital part of the community, and they are consistent winners.
Nobody ever doubted that Davis knows the game of basketball. The son of a coach – the son of a former Mississippi State coach – knows more than a thing or two about a three-quarter press or how to give specific instructions during timeouts. He also can recruit, building a winner at a mid-major in Murfreesboro.
But it’s the humility, earned the hard way over so many years after one trying season at Texas A&M in 1990-91 marked by too many losses and recruiting mistakes, that makes Kermit Davis Jr. a viable candidate for the Ole Miss job.
For all these years, Bianco has lasted because he’s both embraced the family spirit, accessibility and desire to win that exemplify Ole Miss and Lafayette County, and there’s nobody better to take his place on the job.
Those consistent winning seasons and a 2014 College World Series third-place finish doesn’t hurt, either.
For Davis, his one-time NCAA banishment will be a topic of discussion if Ole Miss seals this deal once his MTSU team finishes in the NIT. It’s unavoidable, considering the Rebel football program is on probation for recruiting violations.
But it has been almost three decades since the hotshot Davis learned lessons the hard way. He’s been earning respect ever since, maturing one step at a time.
It’s that experience, and humility, that will make him a good leader for Ole Miss basketball, and a natural for the Oxford community.
David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.