What is Samford Thinking Hiring Bucky McMillan As Head Men’s Basketball Coach?

Marky Billson
5 min readApr 9, 2020

Hiring a high school coach to lead your college team is like promoting a sergeant directly to general.

The Samford Bulldogs have made a mistake hiring Bucky McMillan as their head men’s basketball coach.

Oh, sure, there needed to be a coaching change. The Bulldogs weren’t going anywhere under Scott Padgett, whose tenure seemed to be highlighted by the number of players who transferred out of the program and the fact he once emphasized how big and strong he was to an official during a game at ETSU with the famous line “You stepping on me?”

But hiring high school coaches directly without them serving as an apprenticeship as an assistant in college is risky.

For the Southern Conference to grow as a basketball conference, bottom feeder programs like Samford must improve. Is Bucky McMillan ready for the task?

What’s more, it’s townie. It’s thinking that high school basketball is equal to Division I college basketball.

And it’s not.

Granted, McMillan’s hire has received attention, which is something Samford doesn’t get a lot of. Located in Birmingham, in the shadow of Alabama, Auburn, and UAB, Samford rarely gets any media coverage.

Once, as a sports talk show host, I wanted to have a guest on who knew something about the Bulldogs prior to a game with Southern Conference rival ETSU.

“Who are the writers that cover your team?” I asked the Samford sports information department.

“We don’t have any,” came the reply.

So, since Mountain Brook High School, where McMillan has coached for the last 12 seasons and won five state championships, gets more media attention than Samford, the idea is he’ll sell tickets and create a buzz.

But Murry Bartow, most recently the head coach at UCLA and previously the coach at UAB with four NCAA Tournament appearances to his credit, would also have created a buzz.

Bartow, shown here as UCLA’s head coach last year, was 103–83 at UAB and led ETSU to three NCAA Tournament appearances, the most for any coach in Buccaneers history.

Prior to joining UCLA Bartow was a color commentator on Samford telecasts, earning him popularity with a fan base that averaged just 885 fans a home game last season.

Marky Billson

Innovative sports media personality.