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MyBB basketball's second-chance coaches discuss new challenges

Andy Kennedy, UAB
Andy Kennedy remembers it vividly. He had just come to an agreement with Ole Miss to step down at the end of the 2017-18 season, but after a few days, it didn't feel right. The reason Kennedy went to athletic director Ross Bjork in early February of that year was because he knew his cycle in Oxford had run its course after 12 seasons. A change was inevitable, and he thought announcing that he was stepping down at the end of the season would help the program remain stable.

After less than a week, Kennedy changed his mind.

"We finished a game on the road at LSU, I came home, woke up Sunday morning with a conviction. It's over," Kennedy said. "I called my agent, called my AD, told them here's what I'm doing to do; y'all figure it out. Twenty-four hours later, I announced it."

Instead of waiting 'til the end of the season, Kennedy was stepping down immediately.

After initially thinking about getting back into coaching immediately, Kennedy decided to take some time off. He and his family moved to Birmingham, Alabama -- he played in college at UAB and spent six years there as an assistant coach -- and Kennedy did television work with ESPN and the SEC Network. His time on the TV side, Kennedy said, has brought about some tweaks to his coaching philosophy.

"It helped me change my perspective," he said. "[When you're a coach], everything you do, everything you see, you're watching that with a critical eye. I might run this action; this is a good out of bounds play. From television, my perspective came from 30,000 feet, so to say. The coaches were incredibly accessible to me. When you're a coach, the only shootarounds and practices you ever go to are the ones you're involved in. Now I'm watching everybody from [John] Calipari to [Bruce Pearl] to [Nate] Oats to [Ben] Howland. It was incredibly valuable."

Kennedy enjoyed his time in television, but at 51 years old, he said he always knew he was going to get back into coaching. The move to Birmingham turned out to be prescient. The Blazers decided to move on from Rob Ehsan last spring, and a couple of days later, UAB's athletic director was in Kennedy's living room. A couple of days after that, Kennedy was close to a deal.

"The arena [Bartow Arena] is named after a guy I played for [Gene Bartow]. I love the community," Kennedy said. "My goal is to get the program back to where Coach Bartow had it, as it relates to his vision. I'm fortunate to have another opportunity ... And I didn't have to move."
10-13-2020 07:07 PM
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