HOT BOARD SEASON!!!!,,,
Now that Ole Miss has relieved Wesley McGriff of his duties directing the defense, it is time to turn full attention to hiring a new coordinator to not only rectify but to damn near resurrect the once proud Landshark defense that roamed the proverbial Vaught-Hemingway Stadium waters.
The board will be one that could be moving from time-to-time due to the constant ever-changing landscape of college football but we have a few names right off the bat that we here at Red Cup Rebellion think are in the mix as of this writing.
Here is who we think he should pick from (in alphabetical order).
Jay Bateman, defensive coordinator at Army
The first thing that intrigues me about Bateman is his ability to do a lot with very little as Army is obviously hampered a bit in recruiting by their academic and post-academic requirements if you were to choose to play for him at West Point. But, his defenses are sound, tackle well, and have been known to pester Power 5 teams aplenty.
Army Defense 2018
Earlier this year they gave Oklahoma all they could ask for, holding them to just 28 points, 355 yards, and 165 yards passing, all WELL below their season averages. Despite not winning the game, he certainly put his stamp on it defensively.
Bateman’s defenses are not only known for for being a nuisance for bigger opponents, but they are legit in their own right. In fact, they are 3rd in the country in 3rd-down stop rate and 40th in passing down S&P+, two things that Ole Miss struggled with mightily in 2018.
His only other defensive coordinator gig was at Ball State (2011-2013) and some people criticize the stats, claiming that he benefits from having a ball control offense to play keep away and force teams out of their comfort zone.
Bryan Brown, defensive coordinator at Appalachian State
The former Ole Miss Rebel started his career in New Jersey at Rutgers, then made a brief stop in Oxford before heading to Boone, N.C. Then, after spending six seasons as the cornerbacks coach at App State, the Corinth, Miss. native was promoted to defensive coordinator for this year.
And so far this season, the Mountaineers have been lights out in the Sun Belt. Brown sports the top-rated defense in the conference, giving up an average of just 15.4 points per game and leading the conference in passing defense (153.8 yards), rushing defense (124.36 ypg.), scoring defense, and total defense (278.2 yards).
App State Defense 2018
Just last week, Brown’s App State defense was a key cog in shutting down the Troy Trojans, 24-10, a top 100 S&P+ offensive team that were winners of four-straight and vying for a spot in the Sun Belt title game last week against Brown’s ‘neers.
He may not be the big name, sexy pick like a few listed below, but Bryan Brown’s defense, regardless of conference and competition is ELITE. They are 12th in S&P+ and top 10 in EVERY CATEGORY.
- 4th in standard down S&P+
- 7th in passing S&P+
- 8th in rushing S&P+
- 9th in passing down S&P+
- 9th in IsoPPP+
- 10th in success rate
Despite his defense’s success, people will more than likely unfairly judge him for being a “good Reb” since he’s a former letterman and may question his performance being legit since he’s only been in charge of an defense for just one season. But, if you ask me, he would be an outstanding get who would more than likely be a dynamic recruiter in his home state and would bring tons of energy to a defense that is in need of revival.
Pete Golding, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Alabama
The early 30’s assistant has seen quite the meteoric rise since his days in the Delta. At Delta State, the Statesmen made the D-II title game and won a gulf south title in Cleveland. His defenses were known as “the Green Shirts” and they played fast and loose, forcing a combined 46(!) turnovers, and helping DSU go a combined 22-7 during his two year-stint.
After leaving Cleveland, he made his to SELA, where in 2013 his defense was a key cog in the Lions winning 11 games and going unbeaten in conference play. Next, he returned to the Magnolia State at Southern Miss. The Mustard Buzzards posted a six-win improvement with the help of his defense, going 7-1 in Conference USA, and going to a bowl game.
Alabama Defense 2018
But, Golding really burst onto the scene when he got to the Alamo City. His 2016 UTSA defense finished 20th in S&P+, 10th in success rate, 15th in front seven havoc, 17th in havoc, 25th in S&P, and 28th in defensive back havoc. They were 8th in scoring defense (17.0 ppg), 2nd in first downs defense (166) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (112.19).
Well, maybe that was a fluke, right? Wrong. In year two, the Roadrunners were 20th in S&P+, 5th in total defense, 2nd in pass defense, 25th in rush defense, and 8th in scoring defense. Then, he saw three of his best defenders get drafted in the NFL, led by defensive end Marcus Davenport who went 14th overall to the New Orleans Saints.
Then, Nick Saban hired him.
Since his arrival in Tuscaloosa, he swiped a three-star linebacker away from Ole Miss (Jaylen Moody) and is the lead recruiter for four-star Mississippi strong-side defensive end and Alabama commit, Byron Young
This one is going to be a tough sell for Luke because of the security at Alabama and the “toys” he has to play with there. He could also be looking to spread his wings elsewhere to an elite Power 5 gig as THE guy since he technically shares the DC title with Tosh Lupoi on Saban’s staff.
Mike MacIntyre, former head coach at Colorado
The recently fired head coach from Nashville has been a defensive coordinator at Davidson (1992), UT-Martin (1993-1996), Temple (1997-1998), and Duke (2008-2009). He has also been an assistant at ole miss (1999-2002) as well as in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys (2003-2006), and the New York Jets (2007). And, as we mentioned above, he’s been a head coach at (most notably) San Jose State and Colorado.
His defenses at Duke weren’t overly impressive as far as rankings go, but in 2008, they allowed 67.4 fewer yards and 9.8 fewer points per game than in 2007. Then in 2009, they put up another year of great numbers en route to MacIntyre being named AFCA FBS assistant of the year.
Colorado Defense 2018
Oh, and did I mention his 2016 Pac-12 South Division champs defense was good? How’s 12th overall per Bill Connelly’s S&P+ numbers sound?
- 1st in DB havoc rate
- 9th in passing S&P+
- 10th in passing downs S&P+
- 11th in passing success rate
- 13th LB havoc rate
- 13th in turnover margin
- 24th in success rate
- 32nd in rushing S&P+
Lest we forget that as the head coach at San Jose State, his defense went from 104th in S&P+ to 33rd(!) in just two years, per Bill C’s advanced analytics. And who was there to help him out with the secondary? None other than current Ole Miss defensive backs coach, Charles Clark.
He’s coached under Bill Parcells with the Cowboys and Jets, Ray Goff at Georgia, and of course David Cutcliffe at Ole Miss. He’s also been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Walter Camp Coach of the Year, Home Depot Coach of the Year, and AP Coach of the Year, all in 2016 when the Buffaloes went 10-4, earning a berth in the Pac-12 title game and an invitation to the Alamo Bowl
I personally am not a fan of how he handled the situation with his assistant and a domestic assault charge, but on the field he would be able to get it done and, again in my opinion, help Matt Luke learn how to run a program and a team since he has clearly been there done that.
Kane Wommack, linebackers coach at Indiana
You probably recognize this name and have already more than likely stopped reading. The son of Dave Wommack, the former leader of the legendary 2014 Landshark defense that tormented the SEC and kept Nick Saban up at night, has now moved on from his graduate assistant post in Oxford and is an assistant with Tom Allen in Bloomington.
As a GA in Oxford, he helped coach the Husky position in his father’s 4-2-5 defense, he helped the Rebels 36th in the country in pass defense and 38th in total defense. The previous season, they sat 4th nationally in tackles for loss, 11th in sacks, and 25th in rush defense.
Before arriving in the Big Ten, he was a defensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois and South Alabama. At Eastern Illinois, the Panthers finished an impressive 1st or 2nd in the league in six defensive categories a year after it ranked 2nd in scoring and 4th in takeaways led by four all-conference selections.
Indiana Defense 2018
Then, in 2015 his defense at EIU ranked 2nd in FCS in interceptions (19), 3rd in takeaways (31), 4th in pass efficiency defense (103.0), 8th in red zone defense (67.3 percent) and 10th in tackles for loss (98).
During his two seasons in Mobile, the Jaguars posted the 13th-most improved scoring defense (-10.8) and rushing defense (-69.2) in the nation.
Despite some impressive numbers, I am not ready to let a guy cut his teeth in the Southeastern Conference just because we know his dad and he was a “good Rebel”. Kane could be an up-and-comer in the defensive coordinator field but Luke and Ole Miss can’t afford to whiff with this hire.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Check back throughout defensive coordinator search szn for updates. We will be adding and removing names as they come and go.