clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is Vanderbilt After Johnny Dawkins?

After that narrow loss to Duke, Dawkins is going to have some appeal as a new hire

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Columbia Practice
 Mar 21, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; UCF Knights head coach Johnny Dawkins during during a press conference before the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Colonial Life Arena. 
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Would the Vanderbilt job tempt Duke legend Johnny Dawkins? It’s hard to say at this point but let’s look at the pluses and minuses.

  • Plus: Vandy is in a power conference
  • Minus: Vandy just fired a highly respected coach after his third season who lost his best player for the year (Darius Garland played in just five games before shredding his knee).
  • Plus: Vandy can pay a lot more than UCF.
  • Minus: Vandy just fired a highly respected coach after his third season.
  • Plus: Dawkins, who has been at Duke and Stanford, is used to selective admissions.
  • Minus: Dawkins can recruit more easily at UCF.
  • Plus: His son Aubrey has one more season at UCF.
  • Minus: His performance in the Duke game may have improved Aubrey’s NBA prospects considerably and he may not have one more season at UCF.
  • Plus: Although he fired Bryce Drew after three seasons, Vandy’s AD may be a visionary who might be worth working for.
  • Minus: Vandy’s AD has less than two month’s experience in college athletics and may see coaches as a commodity like pro coaches are. Bonus minus: he’s a Carolina grad.
  • Plus: He may never be hotter
  • Minus: Vanderbilt’s gym floor is from the 1950s with the benches still under the baskets. We’re sure it’s a beloved tradition, but the rest of the world has moved on and sees that as a serious limitation.

We have no idea really but our hunch is that if Aubrey comes back, Johnny’s going nowhere. You can’t put a price on spending a year with your son, especially in his profession where he’s constantly traveling and rarely home. One of the sadder things we read in the recent past was Austin Rivers talking about how he basically never saw his dad growing up and that having a coach-player relationship was a chance to finally spend some time with him (that was when he was with the Clippers; he’s since been with Washington and now Houston).

And there’s also this: yes the SEC is vastly preferable to the AAC. However, Dawkins is building something really solid and UCF could emerge as a significant program. Basketball wise the AAC is really good and has several traditionally strong programs: Houston, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis, Wichita State, UConn, SMU and Tulsa have all been historically strong. But it’s also a conference where you could move up too.

For what it’s worth, John Thompson III has also been mentioned for this job. Everything is rumor at this point and Thompson, a Princeton grad and former Princeton and Georgetown head coach, certainly can navigate admissions. But his program at Georgetown faded (he won just 29 games in his last two seasons), the Princeton Offense is sort of out of fashion and he seems like a retread at this point. If that’s the vision the visionary AD has in mind, it seems drearily familiar.

If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
DBR Auctions|Blue Healer Auctions| Drop us a line