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November 9, 2011

The Ole Miss Coaching Search

After reading Blutarsky's outstanding headline regarding the Ole Miss search, I did a little early morning reading about candidates for the job.

It's not that Ole Miss has never made a good hire. It's just they can't get out of their own way.

David Cutcliffe was a well tenured offensive coordinator for Tennessee going into the National Title game in 1998 with ties to the Manning family. It was a logical hire that worked until Cutcliffe's recruiting fell apart. Tommy Tuberville was a tenured Defensive Coordinator for Miami with 3 national title rings, and he was a DC at Texas A&M when they went 10-0-1 in 1994. The hire worked for them until a better offer came along.

Ed Orgeron had a national title ring, but he had never even been a coordinator...and he had a checkered past. Houston Nutt was being run out of his last job on a rail. And the other 5 coaches following Vaught's retirement were just bad.

Who will they hire? Athlon has a very comprehensive list which includes everyone except Terry Bowden (Pictured above). My only issue with the Athlon list is that it lists Mike Leech as a riskier hire than coaches at Southern Miss and Florida International.

If I were running their search, my top 3 candidates would be Leach, Malzahn and Rodriguez. Malzahn's resume is closest to their prior successes...a proven coordinator with a national title. Rodriguez was a horrific fit at Michigan, but winning at West Virginia without an in state recruiting base is a major accomplishment. Leach put forth a consistent winner despite major recruiting, facility and logistical drawbacks.

Would Leach help Ole Miss pass Bama and LSU in the West? No. But there's no coach in America who could do that and not leave them for a bigger job. Leach could build a program that would consistently beat MSU, Texas A&M, the non-conference tomato cans OM schedules, Vandy, Kentucky and Missouri. He could also put them on equal footing with South Carolina and Arkansas. That's enough to build a consistent 8 win program which Ole Miss hasn't been since desegregation.

Having said all of real hope is they hire Terry Bowden. The comedic potential is better.



stick jackson said...

At least they wouldn't make fun of Rich Rod's accent at Ole Miss like the leather elbow patches set did at Meechigan.

Anonymous said...

Great, now I want some tater tots for lunch.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Dear Ole Miss,

Hiring Tater Tot is an Obamaish Blogger Bailout Plan. Please make this happen.


Anonymous said...

why is he called Tator Tot? I guess I never got that.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis. I'm looking forward to your insights on Mark Fox's recruiting haul/debacle. I'd really like to see someone try and make sense of it.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Anon 1:53,
I always assumed it was because "The Hammer" was taken.

j.leonardjr said...

That just validated my choice of tater tots at lunch!

Hunkering Hank said...

Penn State needs a coach now too.


Here's hoping the feds indict him...

RC said...

While I love to rail on Tater Tot as much as the next guy, I think he gets the short (couldn't help it) shrift as far as game day, x's and o's coaching goes. I always thought he was very good in that regard. He just couldn't recruit to save his life after Garner left. In fact, I said last year that, if I were hiring for UT's job, after their first 5 targets rebuffed them, that I would have given him a call, and required him to present me with 4-5 names of potential recruiting coordinator candidates he felt like he could reasonably bring along with him. I'd have to think UT would be better off with him than Dooley, but what do I know.

That said, I like your list, and I'm embarrassed to say I kind of glossed over RichRod in coming up with my own list. I would actually put him at the very top of my list if I were hiring for this one, given his background at Tulane, and presumed familiarity with the recruiting grounds nearby.

As it regards Leach, I think the AZ job just makes too much sense for him for it not to work out, given that he's a) Mormon, thus getting him closer to Zion, b) has deep professional and personal ties in Southern Cal and West Texas, between which the U of A is conveniently located. I haven't heard whether or not they are targeting him, but they should be. About the only thing they're missing is a place for him to park his pirate ship, which is the greatest crime of him not getting the Miami job in my estimation.

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