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This week, Tennessee State narrowed down their list of candidates for their open men’s basketball coach down to six names. The first thing I noticed from the list: there’s not a lot in the way of Division I head coaching experience.

In fact, just one of the six finalists has Division I head coaching experience, West Virginia associate head coach Larry Harrison, who spent six years at the helm of Hartford.

As for the rest? Many have no head coaching experience at all, at any level, according to the Tennessean.

  • Brian Collins: Belmont graduate, current head coach at Columbia State Community College. Previously an assistant at NAIA Cumberland.
  • Rob Moxley: No head coaching experience. Assistant coach at NC State, under former OVC coach Mark Gottfried. Spent one year as an assistant at MTSU, also was an assistant at Charlotte, Maryland.
  • Dana Ford: No head coaching experience. Currently Illinois State’s associate head coach. Assistant under John Cooper at Tennessee State for two years. Also an assistant at Wichita State.
  • Stacey Palmore: No head coaching experience. Currently on the staff at Georgia. Previously on staffs at Virginia Tech, College of Charleston, and Evansville.
  • Julius Smith: Previously head coach at the University of the District of Columbia. Assistant at Binghampton.

Of the six finalists, one has Division I head coaching experience, two have head coaching experience at different levels of basketball, and three have no experience at all.

But does that really matter? In the Ohio Valley Conference, how rare is Division I coaching experience?

Just last month, UT Martin hired UNLV Assistant Heath Schroyer, who had previous stints at the helm of Portland State and Wyoming. Of the 11 coaches currently running OVC programs, just four, including Schroyer, had previous Division I coaching experience.

  • James Green coached at Southern Miss and Mississippi Valley State before taking over at Jacksonville State
  • Sean Woods coached at Mississippi Valley State before taking over at Morehead State
  • Dickey Nutt coached at Arkansas State before taking over at Southeast Missouri

The number of head coaches taking over with zero head coaching is experience at all is slightly smaller, but includes two of the most successful coaches in the league currently: Murray State’s Steve Prohm, Eastern Kentucky’s Jeff Neubauer, and SIUE’s Lennox Forrester.

Tennessee State is coming off a head coach whose only head coaching experience was overseas, which is why I’m a little surprised the list of finalists doesn’t have more experience on it. Clearly, they valued coaches with ties to the area, as half have connections either to the school, or the Nashville community.

Of course, in the end, you only pick one. And you only need one to be a success.

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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall


Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19


UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24