Posted on 23 March 2010.
Have you ever broken up with a girl and told her that it was you and not her? Have you ever seen that girl a few weeks later out with another guy and realized that it was truly the end of something great?
Well luckily that’s not how some Auburn fans feel about the news that Lebo has been signed as the new head coach of East Carolina University’s struggling basketball team only nine days after being fired from Auburn. A bitter breakup that is rumored to have happened while on the bus ride home from the SEC tournament in Nashville. But, Lebo had the last laugh as Auburn payed him a $1.5 million buyout. <sigh>
East Carolina, who plays in Conference USA, was searching for a replacement for their coach, Mack McCarthy, who resigned to take a fundraising position in the athletic department after the conference tournament. Lebo was their man.
So the moral here is that it’s not nice to hold a grudge, but it would be nice to respond with a good coach signing of our own.
Here is how it has gone down so far.
Mizzou’s Mike Anderson just laughed and remembered when Auburn rejected him before, UTEP’s Tony Barbee politely said, “I’m sorry, I made it to the NCAA tournament with my current team,” and as of right now, Minnesota’s Tubby Smith is denying any rumors that he is interested in the job.
Sounds depressing, I know. However, a lot of people are still interested in how the search is coming along.
Let’s take a look at who is officially being interviewed.
A former LSU player and assistant coach, who is now the head coach at North Texas University, is reported to be interviewing with AD Jay Jacobs and Auburn this week. This is according to a report in the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle.
Jones played on LSU’s team in 1981 and spent 13 seasons as an assistant. He also made coaching stops in Memphis and Alabama.
UNT made the NCAA tournament this year after beating Troy in the Sun Belt Conference tournament and finished with a 24-9 record. Jones has five winning seasons under his belt during his nine-year tenure at UNT, a program that had won just 20 games in the four seasons prior to his arrival.
With experience in the SEC as both a player and a coach, and with a résumé showing experience with struggling programs, Jones sounds like a good candidate for Auburn to me.
However, Jones has what many are saying will be one of his best teams returning next season with three starters who were all named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team entering their senior seasons.
Could an invitation to an SEC team take him away from a solid, experienced, championship winning team?
Marlin, a Mississippi State graduate and former assistant at University of Alabama, before taking his first head coaching job at Sam Houston State in 1998, is also being interviewed by Auburn this week.
Marlin, who is now in his twelfth season at Sam Houston, took the Bearkats to their first NCAA Tournament appearance this year where they lost to Baylor in the first round.
His loss does not cloud all that he as a coach accomplished this season, including teaching his team a new defense two days before their first round game. These accomplishments by Marlin include becoming Sam Houston State’s all-time winningest coach and the second winningest coach in Southland Conference history. His team finished this past season with a 25-8 record including, sadly, a win over Auburn at Beard-Eaves.
Again, with SEC experience under his belt as well as NCAA Tournament head coaching experience, I am interested to see what he thinks about how he will fit into coaching at an SEC school.
Both of these coaches are a slice of the same pie in my opinion. They both have exhibited the ability to revive a dying patient on the operating table, which is just the doctor this school needs. Both have SEC experience, both have NCAA Tournament experience and both have impressive records and recruiting results for their respective schools.
Both are solid options.
There several other names being tossed around the rumor mill, but as of now, these are the serious names.
I’ll keep you posted with more news.