Andy Kennedy’s 12 years of court side experience at Ole Miss – and his quick wit – make him a natural for TV commentary.

Don’t know what Andy Kennedy will do next, but I know what I would do — and it wouldn’t be recruit teenagers. Ever. Again.

No, I’d do what AK does so wonderfully, which is talk, analyze a sport he knows so well, be quick, clever, glib and intelligent — and get paid handsomely for it.

Rick Cleveland

Kennedy would quickly become one of the best in the TV basketball commentary business. He would be splendid calling games at court-side and perhaps even better in the studio.

Heck, for that matter, he could do stand-up comedy if he so chose. During his 12 years as Ole Miss’ coach, his games almost always have been fast-paced and entertaining. But his post-game press conferences often have been even better. He is what sports writers often refer to as a quote machine.

At the Monday afternoon video-streamed press conference to announce his resignation at Ole Miss, Kennedy showed many of the reasons why he would be so good in the TV business.

Asked if he is interested in TV announcing, he said he wasn’t sure and quipped, “I have a face for radio.”

But there was more than humor. He was direct. He was honest. He was concise. He was smart.

“I have been truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a head coach in the Southeastern Conference in my home state for 12 years,” Kennedy said. “That is a true blessing, this I know. I also know that it is a time for a new voice and a new vision for this program moving forward.”

He spoke without notes, from the heart.

If I were ESPN or the SEC Network or CBS — or anyone who broadcasts college basketball — I’d hire him in a nanosecond. That’s how good I think he would be.

How much money could he make? Not sure. At first, he probably would not make as much he has made recently as an SEC basketball coach. ESPN, which drives the industry, has lost subscribers by the millions and revenue as well. But published reports say Dick Vitale makes $3 million a year and Jay Bilas makes about $2 million. Both have been doing it for a long time, and Kennedy has the potential to be as good as the latter and better than the former.

And let’s not forget: Ole Miss will pay AK about $2 million a year for the next two years — to do nothing. “We will honor the terms of his contract,” athletic director Ross Bjork said Monday, praising Kennedy for “changing the mindset and the culture of Ole Miss basketball.”

This is not to say Kennedy cannot coach again if he so chooses. He is well respected around the league as well as the nation. Kennedy has often said, “You are what your numbers say you are.” The numbers say Kennedy is the winning-est basketball coach in Ole Miss history with 245 victories over 12 seasons and with games left to play in that 12th season.

You average more than 20 victories a season for 12 seasons at Ole Miss, you earn respect. I’ve watched AK since he was a hot-shot jump shooter at Louisville High, a cocky teen who never saw a shot he didn’t think he could make.

Respect? Over those 30-plus years, and certainly for the last dozen, Andy Kennedy has certainly earned mine.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.