Last week, MTSU men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis made history during a 71-66 win against Florida International.
Jimmy Earle, former Blue Raider men's basketball coach, held MTSU's record for career wins until last week when current head coach Kermit Davis surpassed him with a win over Florida International. (Photo submitted)
The win was significant for two reasons. One, the Blue Raiders opened up Sun Belt Conference play with a key victory. However, the win put Davis in the school’s history books as the all-time winningest coach with 165 wins, which passed famous coach Jimmy Earle mark of 164.
Both men have helped put the program on notice, and each share a unique friendship with the other.
After Davis set the mark last Thursday, Earle came into the victorious locker room and congratulated his good friend.
“After the game, I said it could not happen to a better person,” Earle told Davis.
Davis added Earle told him, “It’s great; records are meant to be broken. It’s nice that it happened to a guy that he respects and has a friendship with.”
For those not around during the 1970s, here is a history lesson about what Earle brought to a program that near the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference before he got to campus in 1969.
By the time he left after the 1978-79 season, the Blue Raiders won its first two OVC regular season titles, first two OVC tournament championships, and the school made its first two trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1975 and 1977.
He was also the behind the bench, when the school opened up its current arena, the Murphy Center before the 1972-73 campaign.
“Murfreesboro was a fun town, because that was the first time we had won in a long time,” Earle said.
When, Davis took the MTSU job before the 2002-03 season, Earle was the one that taught Davis about what it would take to bring the Blue Raiders to the top of the program’s new conference home, the Sun Belt. Davis said Earle was helpful in showing him around the area.
“He gave me a great pulse of the basketball community, when I first got here,” Davis said. “He introduced me to a lot of people.”
Both men agree what makes this friendship great is they enjoy each other company and talk more that just hoops.
“We just hit it off,” Davis said.
Davis, who is in his 10th season at MTSU, added win number 166 on New Year Eve with a 68-52 home victory over South Alabama.
Currently, the Blue Raiders are tops in the SBC with a 13-2 record that includes signature wins over UCLA, Ole Miss and Belmont.
Tonight, MTSU looks to continue its five game winning streak at Troy.
The Blue Raiders will return home Saturday evening against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Davis has credited the tremendous start to the team working as a unit and getting everyone involved on both sides of the court.
“The biggest thing is our team is so unselfish,” Davis said after Tuesday practice at the Murphy Center. “They make the extra pass, and they just play hard. Everyone gives themselves up for the team.”
The Blue Raiders hopes to make more history by the end of this season.