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Johnny Jones was rewarded for building good program. Is Kermit Davis next?

SouthernMississippi is interviewing candidates for its coaching vacancy today in New Orleans.

Among those believed to be involved are Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods, Southern Miss assistant Steve Barnes, Wichita State assistant Greg Heiar, former Mississippi State assistant Phil Cunningham and former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler. I could make a reasonable case for any of them, I guess. But USM would be wise to take a serious look at Middle Tennessee State's Kermit Davis -- the reigning Sun Belt coach of the Year with Mississippi roots who is interviewing Monday afternoon.

Davis is MTSU's all-time winningest coach.

He's gone 37-13 in Sun Belt games the past three years, including a league-best 14-2 mark this season. No, the Blue Raiders did not make the 2012 NCAA tournament because they lost in the 2012 Sun Belt tournament, and that's not something you can do in a league that usually earns just one bid. But Davis' team was good enough to advance had it made the Field of 68, and if it had then Davis would've been a "hot candidate" because that's the way this profession works. As it is, he's merely a guy coming off a 27-win season.

But what's more important -- one bad half or four good months?

I say four good months.

And Davis just had four really good months. Yes, they were diminished by that one bad half against Arkansas State in the Sun Belt tournament, and that's too bad. But that one bad half shouldn't keep USM from seriously considering the man who has won more Sun Belt games than any other coach over the past three seasons -- including former North Texas coach Johnny Jones, who was hired by LSU earlier this month. Bottom line, if Jones is good enough for LSU (and he is) then Davis should be good enough for Southern Miss. Both men have shown they're capable of building sustainable programs. Jones was finally rewarded for it. Davis probably should be, too.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.
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