Vols Grab a Golden Eagle after a Bulldog Won't Hunt

Published on 22-Apr-2014 by Stacey Mickles
Basketball - NCAA Mens / NCAA Basketball Daily Update

Including the Vols, he's about to turn around a third program in his career.

If Tennessee fans thought their basketball program featured one of the nation's most coveted coaching jobs, they'd be wrong.

One of the hottest names in college hoops circles told them thanks, but no thanks. That would be Mike White, who has turned Louisiana Tech's Bulldogs into an under-rated force that the power conferences duck when scheduling non-cons.

So the Vols ended up dipping into the fertile Conference USA ranks again, hiring former Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall. Under his tutelage, the Golden Eagles compiled a 56-17 record, becoming an under-rated force that the power conferences duck when scheduling non-cons.

And Tennessee knew firsthand about the top-tier C-USA teams. UTEP swatted the Vols, 78-70, at last season's Bahamas-based Battle 4 Atlantis.

Tyndall's most memorable win was when his 13th-seeded Morehead State Eagles upset No 4 Louisville three years ago in the Big Dance. 

Check out the first part of this interview when Tyndall was hired at Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles' situation he inherited sounds almost identical to what he's going to encounter at Rocky Top:

Bruce Pearl is charismatic, loud and a pretty damn good coach. Pearl became known quickly when his Milwakuee team defeated Alabama and Boston College in the 2005 NCAA Tournament on their way to a Sweet 16 appearance.

If Tennessee was looking for a Pearl clone, they found him in Tyndall. Better yet, Tyndall is considered to be a much stronger recruiter.

Conference USA has experienced quite an upheaval this off-season, with former Kansas star Danny Manning moving from Tulsa to Wake Forest and Missouri's Mike Haith bolting to take his place. That was a stunner, at least until you peeked under the covers. Meanwhile, Tim Floyd continues to re-build his reputation at UTEP. Frankly, the only reasons C-USA isn't not a power conference in hoops yet are its paucity of schools in major media markets and relatively late appearance on the college sports scene.

Meanwhile, with two coaches spurning the SEC for the C-USA and one of its best in prime to make a splash in the SEC, that sought-after parity may not be long in coming.

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