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Billy Kennedy Fired After Eight Seasons At Texas A&M

Billy Kennedy was relieved of his duties after eight years at the helm of Texas A&M Basketball. He leaves with a 151-115 overall record (66-78 in conference play), two trips to the Sweet Sixteen, and the 2015-2016 SEC Championship.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Mississippi State vs Texas A&M Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Kennedy was formally relieved of his duties in the immediate aftermath of a largely underwhelming 6-12 SEC campaign.

I don’t know about y’all… but it felt like it was time, didn’t it?

Let’s hit a few quick questions to give this sucker some context.

Why Now?

Billy Kennedy only had two years left on his contract, which meant an extension was necessary to keep him around. The sharp (sharp!) dip in fan support combined with his contract situation yielded a situation where an extension was nearly impossible to justify.

Didn’t we just make the Sweet Sixteen twice?

We did. And if this was the end of Kennedy’s fourth season, he’d be back without a question. The problem, as you might expect, is those first four years where we didn’t do much aside from an NIT appearance. We kept Kennedy heading into that 5th year largely to keep our Davis/Hogg/Gilder class together, and that’s a decision I’d make again given our results from 2015-2018.

But now those guys are gone. And it’s not too difficult to look at the full Kennedy body of work and surmise that years 1-4 and year 8 are what we can expect moving forward.

What’s next?

From me? A big’ ol article laying out our potential coaching options. That sucker is coming in a matter of hours.

From the program? We’re jumping into the CBB Coaching Carousel full bore. This is a quick process, y’all, so stay tuned for breaking news from your friendly neighborhood bloggers.

Overall Thoughts

Near the end, things got pretty ugly from the peanut gallery, as is often the case in the waning moments of a coach’s era. I’m not here to admonish that, as I’ve done my fair share across multiple sports, but I do want to set the record straight about Billy Kennedy’s time here.

First, the guy could recruit. Kennedy consistently brought good classes through College Station, he occasionally grabbed stellar talent, and the dude had a knack for working the transfer game. You could argue that he went to the transfer well too often (an argument I made plenty of times), but in our truly good seasons under Kennedy, it was the transfers (Jones, House, Collins, Wilson) that put us over the top.

Secondly, he was a good dude. College Basketball coaches are famously intense individuals, but you can’t find a story about a time Kennedy was anything but respectful to anyone connected with the program.

Thirdly… he did have flaws. Chief among them was his roster management, which routinely saw talented players leave for reasons we didn’t fully understand. It was particularly difficult to watch Alex Robinson running the point at TCU during a season where we desperately needed a PG, and it was equally difficult to watch Elijah Thomas put in work down low at Clemson this season while we were shorthanded in the paint. Those are only two examples, but it was a recurring problem.

Fourth… the in-game strategy stuff. Timeout management was a head-scratcher, and substitution patterns often left us confused. It sometimes felt like a plan had been agreed to prior to tip-off, and that deviating from the plan meant certain doom. And the X’s and O’s… I never really felt like we had an advantage, there. It often felt like Kennedy did his best work when he recruited well and let the guys run.

The Final Word

The emotion I felt when we dribbled out the clock out with a nineteen point lead against UNC last year - that’s a Billy Kennedy memory. The SEC title, the home victories over Kentucky, and the UNI miracle? Billy Kennedy memories.

But a slew of home losses and frustrating personnel moves are also Billy Kennedy memories, which is why he’ll leave behind a mixed legacy at Texas A&M. He brought us to heights we hadn’t seen in 30 years, but he also led us through some lean times that drove people away from the program.

In the end, I think his legacy will land somewhere in the middle. For a good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good.