Ole Miss has a new offensive line coach, according to Scout’s Ben Garrett. Jack Bicknell, Jr., an offensive line coach for several years in the NFL and former Louisiana Tech head coach, has climbed back into the coaching ranks after a two-year sabbatical to accept the vacant position in Oxford after Hugh Freeze resigned and Matt Luke was promoted to his interim title.
Bicknell, an alumnus of Boston College, was the starting center for the Eagles during Doug Fluties 1984 Heisman year. Upon graduation, he then worked for one season as a graduate assistant in Chestnut Hill before departing for New Hampshire where he was a defensive line and offensive line coach for nine years. During that time, the Wildcats won two conference titles and a division title.
He then left the Northeast to take the offensive line job at Louisiana Tech. After one year, former head man Gary Crowton departed for the NFL and Bicknell took his spot. In his inaugural season as head coach, he led the Bulldogs to an 8–3 record, the school's first AP Top 25 ranking, and a 29–28 upset win over eventual Southeastern Conference champ Alabama. So he’s already gonna piss people off, amirite?!
During his time in Ruston, he was crowned WAC Coach of the Year in 2001, won a conference title and defeated other Power 5 programs like Michigan State and Oklahoma State and he had a number of players make NFL rosters (22).
At the NFL level, Bicknell’s first gig was with the New York Football Giants. All he did there was help the Giants run for 1,427 yards and 17 touchdowns and take down the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. They finished fifth in the NFL in passing while only allowing 28 sacks. After that, he had stints in Kansas City (Jamaal Charles, All-Pro year), Pittsburgh (Le’Veon Bell, 1,259 yards from scrimmage as a rookie) and Miami (Ryan Tannehill had 4,000+ passing yards twice and Lamar Miller ran for 1,971 over two seasons).
What does this mean?
As opposed to the hiring of David Carrao, Bicknell is a position coach and will be able to interact first-hand with the players on and off the field. This is a big-time hire for a staff that is led by an interim coach and about to embark on a season in which they are under self-imposed sanctions and a bowl ban. Not to mention an ongoing NCAA investigation. Matt Luke’s first hire as head coach at Ole Miss is pretty darn good.
For a team that has had constant struggles running the football, it is nice to know that he has mentored two All-Pro NFL backs and worked with an offensive line that sent three dudes to the Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl. He has over 30 total years of coaching experience (24 of them in college) so he’s not a stranger to recruiting and he’s also been at the highest level and won a title at the highest level.
Everyone has been wanting to improve the running game, welp, this might do it.