Revolving door among coaches


Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 10:30 p.m.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - All one has to do is look around at the SEC basketball coaches, and realize how much has changed the last few years.
When Arkansas fired Nolan Richardson last season, the conference lost its most veteran coach. Richardson had coached at Arkansas since 1986, and had coached in the SEC since the Razorbacks joined the conference in 1992.
With Richardson gone, Auburn's Cliff Ellis is now the coach who has been with his current school the longest. Ellis has been at the helm for the Tigers since the 1994-95 season. While South Carolina's Dave Odom and Georgia's Jim Harrick are older than the 58-year-old Ellis, Odom is still most identified as Tim Duncan's coach at Wake Forest and Harrick is best remembered cutting down the nets when he won a national championship at UCLA in 1995.
But after Ellis? It's The Kid. "Really?" Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "No, no no... It's (Kentucky's) Tubby (Smith)."
Smith has been in the conference longer than Donovan, but Smith started at Georgia during the 1995-96 season before heading to Kentucky two years later.
Donovan, at 37, is still the second-youngest coach in the conference. Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes is 36, but Donovan has been at his current job longer than 10 of the other coaches in the SEC.
"The door revolves around pretty quickly in this league," Donovan said. "I was 30 years old sitting around the spring meetings with those guys and it was pretty interesting."
It was just seven years ago that Donovan was one of the youngest major-college coaches in the country, while many of his counterparts, including Ellis, Richardson, Smith, Alabama's David Hobbs, LSU's Dale Brown, Mississippi State's Richard Williams, Tennessee's Kevin O'Neill, South Carolina's Eddie Fogler, Ole Miss' Rob Evans, Vanderbilt's Jan van Breda Kolff and Kentucky's Rick Pitino, were decades older than him.
"It's amazing," Donovan said with a laugh. "It's OK, Tubby's still older than me."
  • COACHES POLL: The ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll was released Thursday and picked Florida as the No. 7 team in the country.
    Arizona was the overwhelming No. 1 choice. The rest of the top 10 are Kansas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Texas, Duke, Florida, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan State. The Xavier comes it at No. 11 and UCLA, Mississippi State, Connecticut, Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Marquette and Cincinnati round out the second 10. Indiana, Gonzaga, Western Kentucky, Minnesota and Illinois fill out the rest of the poll.
    This is the second-highest the Gators have ever been ranked in the preseason. Florida was No. 6 last year.
  • ALABAMA LOSES TWO: The SEC champion Crimson Tide were dealt two blows this week when it found out it will likely have to open the season without sophomore Lucky Williams and freshman Kennedy Winston.
    Williams will miss the first 14 games because of "the receipt of pre-college expenses as an international student while pursuing his high school education in the United States."
    Williams is a native of Nigeria. Winston is being investigated by the NCAA for "possible receipt of pre-college expenses, not associated with the University."
    Winston is suspended until the matter is resolved.
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