The Vanderbilt Commodores weren’t what we thought they were.
A lot of people – myself included – hyped up this team as a potential Final Four contender.
It made sense. Vandy returned its nucleus from a season ago, which saw the team win 21 games and made an NIT quarterfinal appearance. How could this year’s team fail?
Well, it did.
Sure, the Commodores made the NCAA tournament. That’s typically the goal for a basketball program. But there was nothing all that exciting about this particular appearance.
Many could argue that Vandy had no business being in the field of 68. It couldn’t win important games on the road this season, and it lost several games that it had no business losing.
An SEC tournament second round loss to Tennessee should have essentially ended an any shot at making the Big Dance. However, the committee thought otherwise, and Vandy got the opportunity to get blasted by Wichita State by 20 points in Dayton.
After a year of numerous disappointments, it seemed fitting that the season would end in the same fashion for head coach Kevin Stallings and company.
Of course, now it’s all about where Stallings and Vandy go from here.
It’s been several days since the Commodores bowed out in Dayton. Vandy fans have been vocal on social media and elsewhere regarding their feelings on what should happen next.
They want him gone. They want a fresh start after a string of postseason disappointments.
It’s understandable. A fresh start may be what is needed for both parties. Stallings has been the head coach in Nashville for 17 years. That’s a long time in one spot. And considering that Vandy has underachieved several times during his tenure, it’s long enough for fans to want something new.
These things happen. Rick Barnes was at Texas forever. It was best for both parties to go their separate ways and begin a new era. The Longhorns ushered in the Shaka Smart era in Austin, while Barnes looked reinvigorated as head coach of Tennessee this season.
Maybe that’s what needs to happen here. There have been plenty of rumors regarding Saint Louis courting Stallings. Should the Billikens program decide to pursue him as a serious candidate for their vacancy, it could be the best resolution for everyone.
It would allow Stallings to get a fresh start after many years in the same place. It would give Vandy a chance to move forward with grabbing a new head coach without paying a large buyout.
Stallings will appear on CBS and TNT’s tournament coverage this weekend. No one is getting fired with that in play.
But next week, something will happen on the Vandy coaching front. And right now, all signs point towards a new era on the sidelines – err, baselines – at Memorial Gym.