College basketball coaching changes: Alabama parts ways with Avery Johnson; Cal cuts ties with Wyking Jones

College basketball was not short on off-court, non-NCAA Tournament news on Sunday. Two major-conference jobs came open.

Cal announced Sunday afternoon that Wyking Jones was fired; Jones was previously given assurance that he would stay on for a third season after a 16-47 record in his first two years with the school.  

"I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a head coach and as an assistant coach," Cal AD Jim Knowlton said. "I have witnessed -- and respected -- his strong work ethic, commitment to the University's mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes."

But a change was due. The Oregonian reported that Jones' time was over in light of multiple Cal players meeting with Knowlton earlier in the week. With Cal open, former Golden Bear Jason Kidd will be named as a candidate for the job but he'll hardly be the only one. UC Irvine's Russell Turner, Montana's Travis DeCuire and San Francisco's Kyle Smith will factor in. Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett has turned down the job before. 

The Cal opening came some hours after Alabama officially split with men's basketball coach Avery Johnson.

"After meeting with Coach Johnson, we made the decision to mutually part ways," Alabama AD Greg Byrne said. "This was not an easy decision, and we thank him for his contributions over the past four seasons. We wish Coach Johnson and his family the very best."

The change comes following Alabama's 80-79 home loss to Norfolk State in the NIT which, statistically, was one of the most unlikely outcomes of the 2018-19 season. Johnson's past four seasons with Alabama: 75 wins, 62 losses. He took the Tide to the NCAA Tournament in 2018, his only appearance there in his tenure. The move is a surprise in part because Alabama has the 19th-rated recruiting class for 2019, according to 247 Sports.

Alabama assistant John Pelphrey will stay on as interim head coach until Johnson's replacement is named. Candidates for the job are listed in the table below.

The SEC now has three coaching vacancies; Vanderbilt fired Bryce Drew on Friday, in a move that was more shocking than the Johnson change with the Tide. (A&M is also open.) Drew was let go after three years and a 40-59 record. He took Vandy to the NCAA Tournament in his first season in 2017, and this past season enrolled the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Had former five-star point guard prospect Darius Garland not gone down with an injury five games into the season, Vandy would have certainly been a better team and not gone 9-23. Garland projects as a top-10 NBA pick even in light of the injury.

The school's new athletic director, Malcolm Turner, has not even been on the job for two months. This is a move that would suggest Turner has a name or two in mind to hire with a quickness. It's also a move drawing in criticism. Turner was not around the men's basketball program much in his first few weeks on the job and is trying to immediately shake up the athletic department.

Drew posted this statement on Twitter. 

Elsewhere, a major-conference coaching gig closed on Sunday: Georgia State's Ron Hunter, fresh off a loss to Houston on Friday in the NCAAs, took the Tulane opening. Hunter will try to flip the Green Wave program in the American Athletic Conference, which is set to be even stronger next season. The AAC put four teams into this year's NCAA Tournament. 

There are 33 jobs that have gone or will undergo changeover at this point. More are near-certain to open in the next few days. The biggest gigs available as of now: UCLA, Texas A&M, Temple, UNLV, Saint Joe's and Washington State. Nebraska is expected to formally open as soon as the Cornhuskers play their final game of the season. And now there's Alabama and Vandy. 

This is the latest look at the coaching carousel.

College basketball 2019 coaching carousel
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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