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Ross Bjork says the coaching search will ‘heat up’ in November

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Ole Miss’ athletic director spoke candidly with Clarion-Ledger’s Antonio Morales about his biggest decision yet.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

With October coming to a close, the Rebels’ football season will soon be ending as well after Thanksgiving’s tussle with Mississippi State. But, the real “season” will start at the beginning of the month, according to athletic director Ross Bjork. In an interview with Clarion-Ledger’s Antonio Morales, he spoke with Bjork about what exactly he wants in a candidate and told him that the next five-to-six weeks "are going to be some defining moments for the program."

Despite this being the first time Bjork has led a coaching search, he has been involved in a few big-time hires that worked out pretty well for other programs. In 2000, Mike Alden, the former Missouri Tigers’ athletic director, had Ross assist him in a search that ultimately ended in Gary Pinkel being named as the Tigers’ head football coach. All he did was have five 10+ win seasons, win five division titles, and tally six bowl wins before retiring after the 2015 season.

Then in 2007, Bjork was working for Dan Guerrero, UCLA's athletic director. All he did then was sway Washington Huskies’ head coach Rick Neuheisel to leave Seattle and coach in Westwood after winning 33 games in four years, including a Rose Bowl. Despite it not exactly working out on the field (21-29 overall record, one bowl win, and a division title), as a candidate it was an excellent hire at the time according to most pundits.

So fast forwarding to now and this particular coaching search, and Bjork seems to be a seasoned veteran who knows what he is looking for. But, he was honest enough to suggest that Ole Miss’ search will be "totally different." You know, because of that whole NCAA COI decision thing. Nevertheless, Bjork told Morales “he expects things to start moving fast and for the search to heat up ... he'll keep his eye on the national landscape and how the coaching market shifts.”

This might sound like a whole bunch of stereotypical A.D. jargon. But, he did mention the three things that he is looking for that I personally think tells us all we need to know about the upcoming decision.

  1. “We need somebody who has seen it at the highest level. This is the SEC. We have to embrace that. Somebody who has an identity of what they want to bring to the program and they’re very consistent in that identity.”
  2. “We have to recruit and recruit and recruit. And you have to have the chops for that in the SEC. This is not for the faint of heart from a recruiting perspective ... so obviously, we have to be dialed in there or have the staff that can do that.”
  3. “Leadership. Pure and simple leadership at the highest level. These jobs are CEO-type jobs ... They need to be able to manage a lot of different constituencies."

After hearing those three criteria, I think it’s very clear that Ross wants a Power 5 coach who has been in the shit before. He is wanting someone who can go toe-to-toe with Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Texas A&M on the recruiting trail while being a “CEO-type” leader of the program who can delegate, make the appropriate staff hires, use burner phones handle himself in the media, and be able to energize a fan base that is searching for anything remotely close to an answer right now.

Piece of cake, right?