After weeks of speculation, rumors and hope from the Ole Miss fanbase, the university decided on Chris Beard as the new men’s basketball head coach. Beard was by far the best coach available, just take a look at his résumé. It’s a good sign of things to come that Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter made this decision so swiftly.
The Ole Miss men’s basketball program has been in the dark for half a decade, so Carter knew he had to bring in a win-now coach. The program needed a proven winner, a strong locker room presence and a phenomenal recruiter, and these criteria led Ole Miss straight to Beard.
The former Texas Tech and Texas coach won the AP National Coach of the Year in 2019, and he is a two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2019, but many may not know that he has won two other Coach of the Year awards from his time in the Sun Belt in 2016 and the Lone Star in 2015. He has won at every stop in his career, and Ole Miss is his newest challenge.
Beard is responsible for Texas Tech’s deepest March Madness run in school history. The 2019 Red Raiders made it all the way to the championship game only to lose to Virginia. That year, Texas Tech finished the season with 31 wins; to put that into perspective, Ole Miss has only won 25 games in the last two seasons.
The timing of this hire could not be any better. Now that the 2022-2023 season is over for Ole Miss, and since the Rebels have a head coach, it is time to hit the recruiting trail. Beard is a known recruiter, bringing in five-star talents like Dillon Mitchell and Arterio Morris in 2022, not to mention five stars like Ron Holland and AJ Johnson for Texas’ 2023 class.
High school recruits will not be Beard’s only focus, though. As the transfer portal has grown in relevance, so has Beard’s interest in transfer players. At Texas Tech, Beard most notably recruited Mac McClung out of the portal after he withdrew his name from the NBA Draft. At Texas, Beard brought in Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter and Minnesota transfer Marcus Carr, both of which are leading Texas to a top seed in March Madness.
The portal opens on March 13 and does not close until May 11, so expect Ole Miss to be very active during this window.
Something to note is that Beard’s domestic violence charges, which led to his departure from Texas, have been dropped. Beard has met with the Ole Miss Athletic Department and Chancellor Glenn Boyce as part of the vetting process.
Ole Miss knows that it needs to get this hire right, but Beard also knows he must take care of business. Not just in the win column, but on a personal level, Beard has to rebuild his once shining image. He is in a position where he needs to regain the favor of the college basketball world.
Additionally, fans can rest assured that if anything similar to his previous charges surfaces, he will be let go as quickly as he was brought in.
Ole Miss does not shy away from adverse coaching hires. Look no further than head football coach Lane Kiffin. Many people, including Ole Miss fans, were skeptical of his hiring based on his past, but those same people would say that Kiffin has had great success during his tenure in Oxford.
It may turn out, similar to how it did with Kiffin, that Beard needs Ole Miss as much as Ole Miss needs him.
There is something to be excited about when it comes to Ole Miss men’s basketball now, and Rebel fans should be very excited about the future.