Final Four Bound: Auburn's March Madness run has now extended into April. The Tigers improbable march through the NCAA's heads to Minneapolis.
The Tigers have won a dozen straight. Their last loss came in lopsided fashion at Rupp Arena to Kentucky. The Wildcats were shooting for their third win in three tries against Auburn. You know what they say about beating a team three times in a season.
This magical ride on the Bruce Pearl train now includes an SEC Tournament championship and NCAA wins over bluebloods Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky.
You couldn't write a better script. Wait. You still can. All that is left for the Cinderella finish is to win out. Hard to comprehend? It shouldn't be after what we've witnessed.
Auburn is just one win away from the title game and one more away from winning it all. I know some had the Tigers in their brackets, but who really knew?
Reaching the Final Four with an SEC title in the bag has already squashed expectations. The Tigers current run rivals national title runs in football,
Minus Chuma Okeke, reaching the pinnacle with the title will be tougher. No matter what happens, Auburn has a new standard in hoops. And the Auburn family is ecstatic.
Meanwhile in T-Town: Alabama hired its third head basketball coach in the past decade last week. Nate Oats is the newest addition to the Capstone.
Oats hails from Buffalo, where he coached the Bulls for the past four seasons. The program made three of four NCAA's with him at the helm.
Oats got his big break in 2013 when Bobby Hurley hired him as an assistant at Buffalo right off of the high school courts.
Hurley is probably due much of the credit for the rise of Buffalo in basketball. Hurley took the Bulls to their first ever tourney in 2015. He is now at Arizona State.
Some Bama fans are pumped about the hire. Some of those same fans were pumped about the hire of Avery Johnson (it seemed right). And several of those were also pumped about the hires of Mike Shula and Mike Price.
Making a comparison of basketball to football is probably not fair. This guy is probably not Nick Saban.
I said years ago that Bama should go after John Calipari (now the highest paid college hoops coach), and pay him what he wants. Kentucky did. Alabama is not Kentucky when it comes to basketball.
Had the University of Alabama thrown Saban-like money at Calipari years ago, he might have considered the position. If he'd taken it, he probably wouldn't have stayed for long before departing for greener pastures.
Alabama paid Avery Johnson nicely. He was among the nation's highest paid coaches. If he had been succesful in Tuscaloosa, a basketball blueblood or the NBA would've come calling at some point. He too would've left for greener pastures.
It's no secret that Alabama is not at the apex of the college basketball universe, but it deserves better than the product fans have endured since Mark Gottfried's heyday.
How many references to Wimp Sanderson do fans still make? It's been 30 years ago.
The Crimson Tide ranks No. 31 in all-time victories (1,657). Only two SEC schools have more; Arkansas (1,670) and Kentucky (2,263). UK has the most of any team. The Cats are followed by Kansas, North Carolina and Duke.
In football, Bama is No. 5 in all-time wins behind Michigan, Ohio State, Texas and Yale (yes Yale).
Historically speaking, Syracuse is to basketball what Alabama is to football and vice versa. The Orange are No. 6 in all-time wins on the basketball court. They are a perennial basketball power. They are No. 30 in wins in football. In the nation's eyes, they're pretty much irrelevant in football.
Look back over the past ten years and we know Alabama is No. 1 with a bullet in football. In basketball, they're off the radar.
Buffalo won 59 games the last two seasons under Oats. They were 32-4 this past season. Buffalo liked it and rewarded him with an extension just weeks ago and a raise reported at around $800,000. That's over $2 million less than Avery Johnson was making. Obviously, Alabama upped the ante.
UA players are already jumping ship. In addition to the coaching staff, it appears that wholesale changes are coming. Most Bama basketball backers aren't complaining.