It it time for a new identity in Oxford.
After Hugh Freeze left the program in disarray amidst an NCAA investigation, sanctions wrecked hope for immediate success, and interim complacency loomed large, Keith Carter stepped into an opportunity to redefine the future.
Now, four days after moving on from Matt Luke, a hire is imminent.
These five qualifications should be mandatory for the next head coach at Ole Miss:
A great coach is one who gives all the credit to his players and his staff for a win, and takes full responsibility for a loss. As a talented youth continues to mature under the next hire, and recruiting brings in a fresh crop of high-profile athletes, growing pains are sure to remain over the first few years of the new era.
With such, a coach can blame the inexperience, or fault himself for being unable to get his guys prepared for the game plan and make adjustments. Take PJ Fleck for example:
Beyond accountability, a head coach needs to know his place.
Though in many cases all press is good press, college football doesn’t emulate that sentiment. Keeping honesty and transparency is at the forefront of a program is essential, but knowing when to remain behind closed doors is crucial. What players and staffers need to know, is not always what the outside world needs to know.
And for crying out loud, no phone calls to escort services.
It’s not about arrogance, or being a dictator, but a head coach needs to make decisions and stick by them.
Ole Miss has two high-profile coordinators on both sides of the ball. Whether the new head coach will retain both, or either, is to be determined. Whether Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre are retained or not, an OC or DC may call plays and offer suggestions, but the head coach has to be the top dog calling the shots.
Though it might seem simple, a chain of deliberation has to come from the top-down, with ideation coming from the bottom-up, which was jumbled over the course of the last three years in the interim.
In addition to the confidence to lead, confidence in-game must be a factor.
Fourth-and-short situations cannot intimidate into a punt, playing for a field goal should be an after-thought, and every second on the clock should be considered an opportunity.
Win football games.
Ole Miss has a lot of ridiculously athletic rising sophomores. The new head coach must be willing to think outside of the box and use the legs of John Rhys Plumlee, arm of Matt Corral (if he stays), versatility of Jerrion Ealy, power of Snoop Conner and athleticism of the Nasty WideOuts however necessary to score points.
Whether that’s running a two-quarterback system (which has proven to work under other successful coaches), motioning Ealy into the slot like Dexter McCluster, or simply putting the best players on the field at the same time, a shift toward the innovative is needed.
The program fell from the sun. It’s time to bring it back to national relevance.
Playing it safe is not an option, or a disinterested Rebel nation will not return. The new head coach doesn’t necessarily need to be a polarizing figure, but he needs to command the team, the media, and the fans. He needs to excite.
Plain and simple... a GOB decision won’t cut it.
As Carter approaches a hire, he needs to make a statement:
Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Ole Miss ain’t messing around.