After a disappointing 19-14 season, where the Commodores fell in the NCAA Tournament’s play-in game, many believed that Kevin Stallings’ time as Vanderbilt’s head coach was up. His name had been linked to several coaching vacancies around the country after the season ended with a devastating March 15 loss to Wichita State.
On the morning of March 27, multiple sources reported that Stallings had agreed to a six year deal with the University of Pittsburgh for the position. Rumors about this hire had escalated the night before. Not long after, current and former players, fans and experts all took to social media to reflect on his Vanderbilt career and assess this move.
BREAKING: Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings has emerged as a serious candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Pitt, sources told @CBSSports.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 27, 2016
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 27, 2016
Many of those who played under him during his seventeen year tenure from 1999-2016 thanked him for his contribution to the program and their development, and wished him luck in his future endeavors.
Best Wishes to @KevinStallings, Terrific coach and an even better person. Appreciate all he did for me in my four years. Made me into a pro.
— Roddy (@TwubbyOdom) March 27, 2016
— Derrick Byars (@OfficialDeeBee) March 27, 2016
In addition, current Commodores also bid him adieu on Twitter.
Thankful for coach allowing me to attend Vanderbilt and teach us how to live with integrity. Best wishes, you’ve meant a lot to all of us
— Luke Kornet (@bigshin32) March 27, 2016
All Love to Coach Stallings, “in the field of opportunity, it’s plowing time” ⚓️👇🏽
— Wade Baldwin IV (@The_Fourth_Wade) March 27, 2016
Experts and media personalities also chimed in on the matter, holding a variety of viewpoints on both his departure and new position.
So relieved to see Kevin Stallings go from my alma mater Vandy. 17 years of “not bad.” Commodores can and should be a Duke.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 28, 2016
For those crushing Kevin Stallings, I maintain he is a good coach. Just not a huge fan of the fit at Pittsburgh. Needs a strong staff.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 27, 2016
Kevin Stallings is a brilliant creative offensive coach.He inherits a very good nucleus. If he signs a PG @HailToPittHoops is a Top 15 TEAM
— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) March 27, 2016
His coaching change also brought about mixed reactions from Vanderbilt fans, although many did not seem surprised by him leaving.
@KevinStallings Thanks for graduating players, running a clean program, never embarrassing our school, & being a man of character.
— Steve Dix (@dix_s) March 27, 2016
Easter Sunrise Service
Church member: Have you heard the good news?
Vandy fan: Kevin Stallings to Pittsburgh? Yes we’re very excited.
— Brian Bates (@brianbatescomic) March 27, 2016
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh fans also took to social media with many strong opinions about the new hire.
Nothing says Happy Easter Sunday like Pitt hiring Kevin Stallings. I’m speechless. Thanks again, Pitt. Another heartbreaker.
— Ryan Hyland (@RyanHyland3) March 27, 2016
Pitt is not only hiring Kevin Stallings but will likely pay a buyout. This is Haywood bad of a hire.
— JD Schroeder (@Sta7ic) March 27, 2016
— #412Crew (@Hail_Pitt) March 28, 2016
With such backlash to the decision on Twitter, SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum adjusted one of his Tweets on the matter after many responded to him.
Kevin Stallings has done something rare by leaving Vandy for Pitt – he’s made both fan bases happier.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) March 27, 2016
Based on reaction from previous tweet on Kevin Stallings, Pitt fans are as bitter he’s the new coach as Vandy fans are thrilled he is gone.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) March 28, 2016
Kevin Stallings leaves Vanderbilt as the winningest coach in the school’s history with a 332-220 record. He took the Commodores to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. Before arriving to Vanderbilt, Stallings held assistant coaching positions with Purdue and Kansas, then his first head coaching job at Illinois State. Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams released a statement on Stalling’s departure. At the end, Williams said “We will begin a national search immediately and are confident in our ability to find an outstanding person.”