Ole Miss Head Coaching Search Update

We Rebels are looking for a new head football coach, remember? The Archie Manning-led search firm has been ahrd at work over the past week and are looking to have this wrapped up within the nexst couple of weeks so that Houston Nutt's staff can be quickly whisked away as the new one transitions in. Here is what we are hearing regarding some potential coaching candidates. The candidates are listed in no particular order.

And, before we begin, need we remind you that most of what is being reported here is hearsay, speculation, and conjecture. In some cases, there is smoke where there's fire, but really anything is still possible at this point.

 

Mike Leach - Former head Coach at Texas Tech
Why him?
In ten years in Lubbock, Mike Leach never had a losing season. His offenses put up incredible stats and score a lot of points, oftentimes keeping his team incredibly competitive even when seemingly overmatched. He focuses on hard work off of the field as well, as his Tech program had an excellent graduation rate and very few discipline or NCAA issues. He is also unintentionally hilarious.

What the fans say:
He is by far the guy Ole Miss fans want. He has is detractors, as all coaches are subject to, but he is generally considered the best option available to Ole Miss by many.

What we're hearing:
The guy is more-or-less lobbying for the job at this point. He has conducted interviews with many Ole Miss media folks and spoke highly of the Rebel program and its potential. Still, he likely will not be considered for the Rebel job if the people we are talking to are to be believed. His issues at Texas Tech and how he dealt with the Red Raider administration seem to be keeping him out of the running.

 

Larry Fedora - Head Coach, USM
Why him?
Southern Miss is looking to go 11-1 this season and could eventually wiggle their way into the Sugar Bowl if everything works in their favor (that would include a win over Houston in the CUSA championship game). Fedora has plenty of experience developing quarterbacks and prolific passing attacks, having served as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and Air Force before his gig in Hattiesburg. He is also already recruiting in and about Mississippi, so that can't hurt.

What the fans say:
People seem to be warming up to the idea. I think that most fans wouldn't jump for joy with the hire, but people wouldn't be disappointed either. There's just something skeezy, to Ole Miss fans, about doing anything that Southern Miss does, even if that's hiring a talented football coach.

What we're hearing:
He seems to be one of the guys the committee is most interested in hiring. I wouldn't be at all surprised were this hire to actually happen.

Rich Rodriguez - Former Head Coach at Michigan and West Virginia
Why him?
Rodriguez was one of the first coaches to take the leap and use a spread option, the offense of today. He produced tremendous results at West Virginia before struggling during a three year stint at Michigan. Many claim that Rodriguez was fired at the wrong time and should have been given one more season to make the team his own.

What the fans say:
Perhaps yours truly aside, most fans don't consider Rodriguez to be a top choice. I don't think there are many people who would be pissed off by a Rodriguez hire, but it's always questionable when someone hasn't coached in a year or two.

What we're hearing
Rodriguez is interested in the job, but I'm not certain the interest is mutual. This is all a guessing game of course, but of the many people who have given us bits and pieces on the search, it doesn't appear that Rodriguez is a front runner. He is rumored to be a frontrunner for his old Tulane job, though, and we're in no way joking about that.

 

Art Briles - Head Coach, Baylor
Why him?
Before Sumlin was at Houston, Briles was, and he was winning games and turning Kevin Kolb into an NFL Draft Pick. There, as he has done in Waco, he installed a powerful offensive attack which relies on consistent quarterback play. He has head coaching experience in a BCS conference and, by golly, Baylor is ranked this season.

What the fans say:
Ole Miss fans haven't really been talking much about Briles, which is likely to change soon. Why?

What we're hearing:
Because he is rumored to be interested in the job and to have actually expressed as much, that's why. We don't know what kind of a look Briles is getting from the committee, but they'd be foolish to not contact the guy.

 

Kevin Sumlin - Head Coach, Houston (Cougars, not Texans)
Why him?
Sumlin has produced a prolific offense as the head coach of Houston and has the Cougars on the brink of an undefeated season and BCS bowl game. Before being head coach at Houston, Sumlin was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and was a Broyles finalist for Assistant Coach of the Year. And I'll just go ahead and say it because you all know you're thinking it: Sumlin is black. Ole Miss is working very hard to dispel many of the preconceived notions regarding race used to lobby against the university and football program, and you have to to imagine that does play in a role in this hiring process.

What the fans say:
Fans are torn on this option. Proponents cite the offensive output, dynamic strategy, and ability to get more from less. Opponents say that he's nothing without Case Keenum, doesn't field a good defense, and hasn't been a head coach in a legitimate conference.

What we're hearing: 
Sumlin is being highly considered for the job but doesn't have the steam behind him that some other candidates share. We are not sure what his interest level is in the position.

 

Kriby Smart - Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Why him?
Smart is the current defensive coordinator for Alabama, and to say Bama's defense is good is a slight understatement. He's young and energetic and is known for being a solid recruiter. As for our current situation, he's someone who would likely attract some of the bigger name defensive recruits we're pursuing. Long-term, he may not have significant Mississippi ties.

What the fans say:
For fans who want a defensive coach, Smart appears to be the #1 choice. This of course all returns to the question of what you want in a coach, but to fans who think defense wins championships, it certainly makes sense to roll the dice on the coordinator of the #1 defense in the country.

What we're hearing: 
Mum's the word on Smart. Media outlets report he's way up there, but I've never heard his name mentioned by donors or others heavily involved in athletics. That doesn't mean we won't get him. I'm just not even able to pretend to have insider info on Smart.

 

Mark Hudspeth - Head Coach, ULL
Why him?
This is one of the guys who really seems to want the job. He has ties to Mississippi (is from the state and coached at Mississippi State as their passing game coordinator) and would do a fine job recruiting. He has, seemingly overnight, put new life into the moribund Ragin' Cajuns program.

What the fans say:
He, like the next guy we're going to list, seems to be one of the favorite backup plans for the job. People like him and what he has done, but he doesn't even have a full season's worth of head coaching experience in the Sun Belt.

What we're hearing:
He is interested as are we, assuming other plans fall through.

 

Hugh Freeze - Head Coach, Arkansas State
Why him?
It should come as a surprise to no one that Hugh Freeze is being given serious consideration for the job. He has strong Ole Miss ties (OMG HE IS IN "THE BLIND SIDE", Y'ALL!) and would be loyal to the program. He has also done excellent work at Arkansas State in just one season's worth of work.

What the fans say:
Literally everything we just said about Hudspeth.

What we're hearing:
Ditto.

 

Al Golden - Head Coach, Miami
Why him?
This one's coming out of left field, huh? Golden might want to get the hell out of dodge as The U seems to be the target of future NCAA sanctions. Ole Miss would be a good place for him to sorta start over at trying to prove himself as a BCS head coach.

What the fans say:
Few are talking about Golden, but the ones who are are pretty high on the guy, and rightfully so. His work at Temple is rather impressive.

What we're hearing:
We're hearing that Penn State is interested in hiring him to cleanse their program of, well, all that horrible shit that's been going on up there.

 

Gus Malzhan - Offensive Coordinator, Auburn
Why him?
He won a BCS national championship as an offensive coordinator. He also hates Houston Nutt's guts, for whatever that's worth.

What the fans say:
People seem wishy-washy on him. Some think he's a great offensive mind, while others think he's not everything he's hyped to be.

What we're hearing:
It is being rumored that the Gus Bus will be heading to Chapel Hill to coach the Tarheels. I guess that clears this situation up a bit, being as how UNC was one of the programs comparable to Ole Miss with a coaching vacancy (the other being Arizona).

 

Bob Davie - ESPN Announcer
J/K LOL. He's not a coaching candidate. He's a dipshit announcer on ESP - what? New Mexico just hired him? Wow.

 

Peyton Manning - Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
What did I tell you earlier this morning? Stop it. Don't make me say it again. 

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