When it was reported two weeks ago that former Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick had agreed to become Ole Miss’ wide receivers coach, it was roundly praised as a home run hire for a program that had otherwise failed to attract big names to its staff this offseason. Turns out Lubick’s not coming to Oxford after all.
According to Parrish Alford, Hugh Freeze confirmed Monday that Lubick has agreed to become Baylor’s offensive coordinator. Ben Garrett reports that the Bears doubled Lubick’s salary, which, combined with the opportunity to remain a coordinator, was too good of an offer to turn down. Hard to blame him.
Some actually thought Lubick might be a candidate for the coordinator job in Oxford after Dan Werner was fired, but Freeze instead pulled Sam Houston State’s Phil Longo out of the FCS ranks.
The top candidate to replace Lubick might be Gunter Brewer, the son of longtime Rebel head coach Billy Brewer. Gunter coached receivers at Ole Miss under Houston Nutt and has spent the last five seasons in that same capacity at North Carolina, where he also serves as a co-offensive coordinator.
Lubick was about the only hire Ole Miss fans were universally excited about.
New defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is an experienced defensive backs coach and an ace recruiter, but his only coordinator experience came two decades ago at a DII school. Linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto also has an impressive record on the recruiting trail, but was routinely criticized by LSU fans for sub-par on-field coaching. Recently announced D-line coach Tray Scott appears to be a rising star, but has spent just two seasons as a paid member of an FBS staff. That’s still two more seasons than offensive coordinator Phil Longo, whose entire career has been spent at the FCS level.
Lubick, on the other hand, is about as accomplished as it gets for a receivers coach. Before taking over the Oregon offense in its entirety, he spent three years coordinating a Ducks passing game that torched the Pac-12 and helped Marcus Mariota win a Heisman Trophy. Lubick spent three seasons coaching the other side of the ball at Arizona and was named the Wide Receivers Coach of the Year at Duke in 2012. He even had strong ties to Oxford, having coached alongside Hugh Freeze during the Orgeron era.
Ole Miss still needs to replace Grant Heard.
The reason Freeze was in the market for a receivers coach to begin with was because Heard is heading to Indiana to become the passing game coordinator under former Ole Miss assistant Tom Allen, who was recently promoted from the Hoosiers’ defensive coordinator to head coach.
The loss of Heard, whose receiver corps has been one of the most talented and productive position groups of the Freeze era, will have a huge impact on both the Rebel offense and recruiting. Heard’s most notable pupil was Laquon Treadwell, but the first round star wasn’t the only Rebel wideout Heard helped break into the NFL. He helped turn Donte Moncrief into an All-SEC talent and earn a 2014 third-round selection to Indianapolis, where he’s already caught 126 passes for 1,484 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons. Heard took former two-star Cody Core, who was mostly used as a defensive back and special teamer, and molded him into a sixth-round pick of the Bengals. Former Washington transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow has already declared for the 2017 draft and is projected to come off the board by the fifth or sixth round.
But Heard’s best work may have come on the recruiting trail over the past two years, when he stocked Freeze’s cupboard with four-stars DaMarkus Lodge, Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Tre Nixon.
It was thought that group would be molded by the experienced hands of Lubick. But with his initial hire bound for Waco, Freeze will have to find someone else to fill the sizable shoes left by Heard.