Earlier today, we told you about Hugh Freeze and his quick ascent to the top job at Arkansas State. In just one year in Jonesboro, the
Indians? Hawks? Red Wolves went from a bottom 20 to a top 30 offense in the country with Freeze at the helm. You might be a little surprised that Freeze has been in Jonesboro, since about this time last year he accepted the job as offensive coordinator at San Jose State. But screw that if you can stay in the Dirty, right?
Michael Oher wasn't the only one congratulating/lamenting Freeze's promotion at the Natural State's other FBS program. We pretty much begged Houston Nutt to hire the guy in the wake of Kent Austin's decampment to Cornell. We don't know which (if any) positions might be open on the Rebels' staff, but it's never too early for speculation. Both sides of the ball could use at least one new coach that focuses on a specific aspect of the game.
Though Freeze is in the news, we've got, first our Christmas Wish List for the defense. It's assignment football that has our attention like a Red Ryder B B Gun. After the jump, we have a fairly reasonable list of folks who might be able to help the Rebels in this area.
I, personally, am not advocating that anyone be fired. If ouf defensive staff can outline some credible reasons for me to believe that they are the right choice for the Rebels going forward, I am willing to listen. Like our head coach, I don't believe that Tyrone Nix (or any other coach) turned into a terrible coach over night (Dave Rader did so over the course of many decades). But just in case, here are some ideas.
John Lovett - University of Miami
With Randy Shannon having been shown the door, it's entirely likely that Lovett is on his way out, as well. As defensive coordinator for the 'Canes the past two seasons, Lovett's defenses have done two things in tandem that we Rebels have recently thought impossible: hit hard and be in position. Lovett is a veteran guy that coached linebackers and defensive backs as an assistant (including four years coaching Tommy Tuberville's secondary at Ole Miss). As a defensive coordinator he has made stops at Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, and Miami. If we fire Tyrone Nix, which is only hypothetical at this point, John Lovett should be an immediate call to replace him. This year, he has coordinated another Top 20 defense for the U. Or why not . . .
Randy Shannon - University of Miami
He is looking for a job, after all. And, since, based on recruiting we're practically the fourth Florida school, Shannon might be willing to lick his wounds as an SEC defensive coordinator and get us some 'croots along the way. Shipping Dan Mullen to South Beach and importing Shannon sounds like a good trade.
Willie Martinez - Oklahoma
As a defensive coordinator, Martinez lost a lot of shine at Georgia. But as the coach of their secondary, Martinez helped put together some defenses that sparkled. This year at Oklahoma, he has been a bit of a disappointment. The Sooners pass defense is ranked in the sixties. In past years where the Big XII South has been quarterback central, that might be easily explained. This year, I think Martinez is just adjusting to life beyond being a coordinator. If Nix is retained, hiring Martinez as coach of defensive backs would be high-profile enough to maybe quiet the angry mob.
Melvin Smith and/or Tony Hughes - Mississippi State
If you can't beat 'em, hire them away. Smith and Hughes are two guys that Dan Mullen brought on his staff to help acquaint him with the Magnolia State. Smith is a hold-over from the Sylvester Croom era. You may remember Tony Hughes as a top recruiter and assistant for Ed Orgeron. Manny Diaz's blitz scheme has gotten a lot of attention, but Mississippi State's players have been fundamentally sound all year long. We could use some of that. If we fire Tyrone (and Derrick Nix leaves with him) Hughes or Smith, a Mississippi native, could help blunt the impact on Magnolia State recruit relations.
Mike Dubose - Memphis
You know who Mike Dubose is. Currently, he coaches the defensive line at Memphis. Many of us have been disappointed with the performance of the Rebel defensive line in 2010. Fair or not, that brings down some responsibility on Terry Price's shoulders. All year long, I saw penetration by the defensive line, but opposing quarterbacks seemed to regularly escape the pass rush. I don't know if Price is to blame, but he might lose his job simply because he is not in Houston Nutt's inner circle. If he does, Dubose is a talented assistant with a long record in the twin states.