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Sources: Auburn set to hire Tony Barbee

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ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that Auburn is set to hire UTEP's Tony Barbee as its new head basketball coach. Barbee's resume at UTEP is fairly impressive just glancing at the results. They have improved from 14 to 19 to 23 to now 26 wins in his four years in El Paso, culminating with this year's C-USA championship and subsequent NCAA tournament at-large appearance. That said, he faces a big challenge taking over what several in the national media have called the SEC's worst job. He'll face the same two challenges faced by his predecessors on the Plains: almost total lack of fan support and lack of recruiting credibility even for local players. Barbee will have a few things going for him, though, namely a brand new $90 million arena that could help sway both fans and recruits to buy in to the program. He'll also have a competitive opportunity to build something up in a relatively weak SEC West. The school's main two rivals, Alabama and Georgia, also have new coaches who have yet to establish recruiting dominance in the area. Still, I'm skeptical that anyone can turn Auburn basketball into a consistent winner, but if it's ever going to happen, now is a great opportunity for a new coach to come and do the impossible. As an Alabama fan, I wish him limited success. Auburn (and Arkansas) did more to burst the NCAA bubble of SEC West teams Ole Miss and Mississippi State than anything or anyone else due to their poor performance against non-conference teams. Having all SEC teams--especially West teams--on solid footing and at least winning games out of conference is good for everyone in the league when it comes time for NCAA selections. What we don't want though is someone who will cause us problems in recruiting. Auburn hasn't posed even a slight challenge to us in recruiting for about two decades (UAB has been more of a threat than them). We've had a hard enough time keeping the top talent in-state even while being the dominant recruiter in the state for some time. We certainly don't want him to have too much success in general for our hated rivals, but we especially don't want him causing us headaches in recruiting at a very crucial time for our program in restocking our own talent.

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