Kevin Stallings has been officially announced as the new men’s basketball coach at Pitt.
Considering how the Sean Miller fiasco went down, I thought it best to wait until official documentation was released by Pitt media relations before really diving into this.
Pitt used a search firm in its coaching search to keep it under wraps. Ironically, that firm was led by former Vanderbilt Athletic Director Todd Turner, who signed Stallings to Vanderbilt back in the late 90’s.
Stallings’ hire has received universal disdain, whether it be from fans or local and national media. The media has claimed the “fit” doesn’t make sense while Pitt fans expected a bigger splash hire or at least a young, energetic coach with room to grow. Kevin Stallings is the exact opposite.
The former Vanderbilt coach has had a pretty consistent run in Nashville. Stallings has averaged about 20 wins per season while making 7 NCAA Tournament appearances. He’s coached seven NBA players and is known as a good recruiter with an up-tempo offense, two qualities Pitt Athletic Director Scott Barnes is on the record saying he would be looking for in his next hire.
Much of the reaction on twitter is eerily similar to the disgust towards former coach Jamie Dixon after his latest loss to Wisconsin. Panther fans seem to be living in an alternate reality in which their rooting interests are the same as a high profile, storied college basketball program.
This is not to suggest the Pitt job is trash, but now that the smoke has cleared a bit it’s obvious that Stallings was not Pitt’s first, second or even third choice. It’s tough to blame possible candidates—what coach wants to constantly be compared to Jamie Dixon.
Stallings’ fallout with Vanderbilt was very similar to Dixon’s at Pitt—it was time for a change. Obviously, Dixon did more for Pitt’s program than Stallings could ever have hoped to do at Vanderbilt, but their last two seasons totaled 40 wins, 1 tournament appearance, and some all-too-familiar results.
More from City of Champions
- Pittsburgh Penguins: A Look Back at 2019
- Pittsburgh Steelers: A Look Back at 2019
- Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look Back at 2019
- Steelers: Need for QB of the Future is More Apparent than Ever
- Steelers: Defense Needs to Take Advantage of Inconsistent Bills Passing Attack
My issue with the Stallings hire has nothing to do with his playing style or tournament resume, but the way he’s acted towards some of his players, one of which is currently on Pitt’s roster.
Back when Sheldon Jeter was attempting to transfer to Pitt, Stallings attempted to block the now-senior from playing closer to home. Eventually he gave way, but for an extended period of time Jeter’s contact with Pitt was blocked or impeded. Is this the guy you want representing your program?
Fast forward to just last year. In a game against Tennessee, Vanderbilt forward Wade Baldwin IV clapped in front of one of the Volunteer players after an important basket. Beside himself, Stallings pulled Baldwin to the side and told him he was going to “(expletive) kill him.” Of course, this was all caught on live TV and Stalling promptly apologized.
I repeat: is this the guy you want representing your program?
Scott Barnes has received plenty of acclaim and fanfare, now he must answer that simple question. From the outside looking in this seems like the safe hire, but it’s also the boring hire—and that’s not always the bad thing.
But if this move backfires, it’ll set back the basketball program for quite a while. Barnes, on the other hand, would surely no longer be representing the program.