On March 13, Illinois State’s men’s basketball coach Dan Muller tweeted out a general message to six conferences looking for takers on a home-and-home series for the 2017-18 season. He quickly got a response from Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork and head coach Andy Kennedy.
Just a few short hours later, Muller tweeted once more with an optimistic outlook on the matchup.
Ole Miss basketball promptly responded with a message from Kennedy’s alter ego.
The connection between the two schools goes well beyond three tweets about a potential matchup.
Before the 2006 season, Torrey Ward was hired by Andy Kennedy as a part of the Rebel staff. Ward spent five seasons with the Rebels helping mentor several players on their way to earning All-SEC honors. Those players include Clarence Sanders, Todd Abernathy, Chris Warren and David Huertas. While Ward was on the staff, the Rebels won two SEC West titles and earned three postseason berths.
Ward left Ole Miss to join the Illinois State staff before the 2012 season and quickly made an impact on the Redbird staff as an assistant to head coach Dan Muller. Ward was promoted to an associate head coaching position before the 2014-15 season.
Tragedy struck when Ward among six other passengers died as a result of a plane crash upon their return from the 2015 NCAA championship game in Indianapolis. The small plane crashed just five miles from the ISU campus and two miles from Central Illinois Airport. While 532 miles separate Oxford and Bloomington, the connection between the two schools transcends mileage. A matchup between the two in 2017 would be a great testament to a man who made an impact on both programs.
HottyToddy.com will continue to update this story with any new information on the scheduling.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.