Alabama fires Anthony Grant

Published on Sunday, 3/15/15, at 6:35 p.m. Eastern.

When Alabama hired Anthony Grant from VCU in 2009, I said he’d have the school in its first Final Four in the next half-dozen years.

I clearly got that one wrong.

Instead of winning four games in an NCAA Tournament, Grant won zero Tournament games for the Crimson Tide.

In six years, the long-time former assistant at Florida took Alabama to only one NCAA Tournament, losing a nail-biter against Creighton in a 2012 first-round matchup.

Grant took the Tide to a pair of NITs, losing in the finals at MSG in 2011. He went 116-83 (58.3%) overall and 53-47 in SEC play.

Many UA supporters felt Grant should’ve been fired last season, but he was given another year because he’s a class act with a great reputation (and his dismissal would’ve been costly). All indications are that¬†Alabama athletic director Bill Battle struggled with the decision, but he basically had no choice due to the outrage fans were venting about the possibility of him being retained.

“This has been a very difficult decision, as I have the highest respect for Anthony as a coach, as a molder of young men, and as a person,” Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement. “Anthony is a man of impeccable character who has been an excellent representative of our program. He has made tremendous contributions to our program and we always will be grateful for his efforts. Anthony, his wife Chris, and their children have been tremendous assets to our University and our community.¬†In this business we are ultimately judged by wins and losses on the court and, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t made satisfactory progress in that area.”

Why it didn’t work for Grant in Tuscaloosa will puzzle me for many years. He was instrumental in the success Billy Donovan had at Florida during his 10 years with the program. He was on the verge of landing the UF job (literally on the airplane about to fly to Gainesville when Donovan called Jeremy Foley and told him he was having second thoughts about taking the Orlando Magic job.

In three seasons at VCU, Grant took the Rams to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and one NIT. His first team at VCU beat Duke in the opening round on Eric Maynard’s game-winning shot. His third team lost by one to UCLA when Maynard missed a potential game winner at the buzzer.

Grant left VCU in great shape, recruiting many of the players who eventually took the Rams to the 2011 Final Four, including Joey Rodriguez from out of the Sunshine State.

Grant could field offers for another head-coaching gig in the coming weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up back in Gainesville to team with Donovan again. Whatever the case, Grant will land on his feet and definitely be a head coach again.

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