What Can Ole Miss Fans Expect In Chris Beard’s First Season?

What Can Ole Miss Fans Expect In Chris Beard’s First Season?
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

Ole Miss made national news earlier this week when they hired former Texas and Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard as the school’s 23rd men’s basketball coach, a hire that should generate interest in the program across Mississippi sports betting.

Beard, who led the Red Raiders to the 2019 title game, was fired by the Longhorns earlier this season after his fiancée accused him of domestic abuse. Beard, while not charged in relation to the incident, was immediately put on a leave of absence and subsequently fired by the school in December.  

Now, the longtime college coach is tasked with resurrecting both his reputation and a Rebels program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2019, posting consecutive sub-.500 seasons in Oxford.  

It’s not the first time that Beard has been tasked with rebuilding a program, as he’s done so at Texas Tech and Arkansas-Little Rock, where he took flagging programs and led them to March Madness soon thereafter. 

BetMississippi.com utilized www.sports-reference.com to look at Beard’s first year records at each of his previous CBB stops to get a sense of how quickly he can turnaround the Rebels (3-15/12-21 last season) and reach the NCAA Tournament. 

And remember that there is a push to bring more convenient wagering options to The Magnolia State with a new gambling bill.

Chris Beard's First Season Records At Previous Stops

YearSchool Record
2015-16 Little Rock 30-5 (made NCAA Tourney)
2016-17 Texas Tech 18-14
2021-22 Texas 22-12 (made NCAA Tourney)

What Beard Could Do At Ole Miss

Beard has been successful everywhere he’s coached, going 30-5 during his lone season at Little Rock, before posting a .671 winning percentage at Texas Tech. 

In Lubbock, Beard led the Red Raiders to the tournament in his second season after Texas Tech went 18-14 during his first year with the program.  

Prior to his arrival, Texas Tech hadn’t posted a 20-win season in 10 years, while failing to post a record above .500 in Big 12 play during that stretch.  

Between 2017 and 2021, Beard coached the program to two 20-plus win seasons and three NCAA Tournament berths, showing how quick of a rebuild the longtime coach could spearhead. In his year-plus run with the Longhorns prior to his dismissal for domestic violence, Beard had an even better winning percentage (.690), guiding Texas to a 22-12 season during his lone full run with the school. When Beard was placed on leave earlier this season, the Longhorns were No. 2 in the country. 

Ole Miss has found success on the hardwood at times in the past, making five tournament appearances in six years between 1996 and 2001 under Rod Barnes, while making a Sweet 16 in 2001. But that era is quite a ways in the rearview mirror for fans of the Rebels.

Now, Beard will be tasked with getting the Rebels back into March Madness for the first time in five years come 2024. If he’s able to replicate his past success in his first seasons with UALR, Texas Tech and Texas, where he posted a .693 win percentage, then the Rebels could be in good shape moving forward on the court.

For perspective, the last time Ole Miss posted a win percentage that high was when they went 27-9 (.750) during the 2012-13 season. Fast forward a decade-plus, and the Rebels can only hope that such a run is possible in the year ahead.  



Christopher Boan is a writer at BetMississippi.com specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.