Another day, and another coaching candidate has passed on the open Tennessee Volunteer’s head coaching vacancy for the university’s basketball program. This time, the rejection came from Louisiana Tech’s Mike White.
Despite many reports claiming White would become the 19th head coach in Tennessee’s history, reports are now stating that White will remain at Louisiana Tech. According to NBC Sports and CBS Sports, White has turned down Tennessee’s offer and will remain at Tech where he feels more secure.
So where does this leave the Vols now?
As the two aforementioned reports claim, the Vols likely are turning to Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall to fill their coaching vacancy. Tyndall is a name unfamiliar to most Vol fans, but he is one fans should become acquainted with.
According to his bio on Southern Miss’s website, Tyndall began his basketball career as a player at Morehead State from 1990-93. He is familiar with the SEC, as he became an assistant coach at LSU from 1997-2001 before becoming the associate head coach at Idaho. He even has ties to Tennessee, becoming the associate head coach at Middle Tennessee State for 5 years from 2002-06.
His first head coaching position came at his Alma Mater, Morehead State. He inherited a team that went 4-23 the previous year, improved them to 12-18 in the 2006-07 season, then never had a losing season thereafter. His teams won 20 games or more every season from 2008-11 after winning 20 games only twice in school history before his arrival. He led Morehead State to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1984 in the 2008-09 season, and they earned a First Four win over Alabama State. He led them to their best record in 2010-11 with a 25-10 mark, and they defeated Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.
Tyndall took over at Southern Miss in 2012, leading the Golden Eagles to a 27-10 record and an NIT berth where they were a win shy of the NIT semifinals. His second season was even more productive, as the Golden Eagles won 29 games, matching the win total of White’s Louisiana Tech squads over the past two seasons.
And as the NBC and CBS reports point out, Tyndall is enigmatic and charismatic, characteristics Vol fans claim former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin lacked. If you need proof of his demeanor and personable character, watch this video of Tyndall and Southern Miss players and students doing the Harlem Shake.
Does that level of enthusiasm and charisma remind you of anyone, Vol fans?
Tyndall built Morehead State into a powerhouse in the Ohio Valley Conference, and he has shown he can increase ticket sales and perform quick turnarounds with teams devoid of talent. Tennessee may have a rough season ahead, but even the Vols at this juncture have more overall talent and better athletes than any Morehead State or Southern Miss team Tyndall has coached.
The 43 year-old head coach has a proven track record in the NCAA Tournament, and his coaching history proves he can win in even more dire situations than what he would inherit with the Vols.
While fans may have wanted the upped tempo White would bring with him, the Vols roster is simply not equipped to run such an offense with the players they have. From a personality and overall coaching standpoint, Tyndall appears to be a much better fit for the Vols. His charisma harkens back to Pearl’s most eccentric times, and Tennessee could use someone to fire up the fanbase once again.
If the Vols can’t land an A-list candidate such as Gregg Marshall or Ben Howland, then I say Donnie Tyndall is quite the steal for a program desperate for some showmanship and an injection of energy.