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Magnolia State Coaching Rumors (Plus Hearsay From Across The SEC)

There’s already one coaching vacancy in the state of Mississippi.  According to the rumor mill, there might be another SEC school in the Magnolia State that will have to go looking for a new coach soon.

Starting with the known opening at Ole Miss, Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora continues to be the focus of most of the talk.  Makes sense.  In four years at USM he’s taken the Golden Eagles from back-to-back 7-6 seasons to 8-5 all the way to 10-2 and the C-USA Championship Game this year.  Before moving to Hattiesburg, Fedora was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and at Florida (under Ron Zook).

His proximity and reputation as a solid recruiter make him a natural leader for the job Archie Manning and crew are trying to fill.  But his name is also popping up in connection with other jobs — North Carolina for one.

For now, Fedora isn’t talking about about the Ole Miss job… and that’s to be expected.  His team is prepping for unbeaten Houston in the C-USA title bout.

Meanwhile, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth — a former Dan Mullen assistant at MSU — is believed to be rising up the UM charts.  Reports claim he interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee Sunday in New Orleans.

While a post claimed Arkansas State’s Hugh Freeze had already agreed to take the Memphis job — totally false — the school has actually released a statement saying that Freeze does not have permission this week to speak with other schools.  The Red Wolves face Troy this weekend.

Freeze was an assistant in Oxford under Ed Orgeron and he reportedly made a good impression on folks in the UM administration.

For Fedora, Hudspeth and Freeze, Ole Miss is a step up.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also on the Rebels’ watch list, but would he really want to get his start at the bottom of the SEC West at a school that’s never been to the SEC title game?  The money would be good and there’s nothing wrong having the letters S-E-C on the resume, but Smart’s career might be better aided by him starting elsewhere.

Plus, how many Nick Saban acolytes have gone on to great success in coaching?  The most high-profile former Saban aides are Jimbo Fisher (Florida State fans are mad at him), Derek Dooley (Tennessee fans are mad at him), and Will Muschamp (Florida fans are already mad at him).  All of those coaches are relative newbies on the big stage, but that’s hardly a track record of great success.

For his part, Saban says Smart is ready.  “Leadership is really an important part of being a head of anything, a business or whatever it is, and I think Kirby is a great leader,” Saban said yesterday.  He also said he thinks Smart will make “an outstanding head coach.”

We still believe Ole Miss would be wise to check out one of the coaches who beat the Rebels this year — Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech.

The Mississippi job might not be the only opening in the Magnolia State if the rumor-mongers and messageboarders are correct.  Mississippi State’s Mullen has emerged as one of the most talked about candidates to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.

MSU fans went down this road with Miami rumors last year only to hang onto their coach.  Would Mullen make the move to State College this year?

On the surface, Penn State is one of the best college football jobs in America.  It’s the top school in a fertile recruiting zone and the Big Ten isn’t as cutthroat and tough as the SEC at the moment.

Below the surface, someone’s going to have a major clean-up job on his hands — and we still don’t know what the NCAA might due to the Nittany Lions’ program.  Plus, while Joe Paterno’s name is now tarnished, don’t forget, PSU students rioted to keep him.  And Penn State fans are used to winning big — over the long haul — with Paterno.  They won’t be patient regardless of the circumstances.

Other nuggets:

* Vanderbilt’s James Franklin has had his name attached to the Penn State job as well.

* Gus Malzahn — once believed to be the leader for the North Carolina head coaching job — has reportedly dropped a bit with Auburn’s recent offensive struggles.

* At Tennessee, fans are waiting to see if Derek Dooley makes any sudden moves on his coaching staff.  Rumors emerged last yesterday that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand had been let go.  Naturally, those rumors were false.

* Joker Phillips is safe at Kentucky, but there’s much speculation about who from his staff might be let go following the Cats’ first non-bowl season in six years.  Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders — who’d done an excellent job until this year — might be a fall guy since defensive coordinator Rick Minter has just wrapped his first year in the Bluegrass State.  Minter’s defense struggled as much as Sanders’ offense until the season’s final two weeks.



Tony Dungy? Really? Why would a Super Bowl winning coach like Coach Dungy even consider a job like Ole (We) Miss(ed) (Again)?


I am an Ole Miss alumnus and I have to admit that the Ole Miss job is a loser. Ole Miss has killed its uniqueness by disavowing its heritage and now it is just any other football school without any possibility of competing successfully with the LSUs and Alabamas of the SEC.


Before bashing Rick Minter's 1st UK DEF...Go check the # of 3&outs the UK OFF complied during the season & then get back w/ me about how poorly the DEF played and what really lead to some of the DEF shortcomings. Not many teams have the depth to overcome that..(maybe ALA & LSU).



Really? I was "bashing" Rick Minter's defense? Didn't realize I was "bashing" anyone or anything by stating a pretty obvious fact.

In eight conference games, Kentucky allowed 30 points per game.



Your quote: "Minter’s defense struggled as much as Sanders’ offense until the season’s final two weeks."...This is just blatantly false..And I would venture to say "Bashing"..Even if it's unintentional.

And I completely disagree w/ your assertion that Minter's DEF played as bad as Sander's OFF until the final 2 games of the season...IMO, the DEF played well enough that UK could have been 7-5/8-4 w/ just a little help from the "O".

Sure, UK did give up 30ppg in the SEC...But w/ how many Offensive 3&out's, pick/fumble6's, less than 2min drives that ended in w/ extremely short fields for those SEC foes??? F'in plenty, my friend!

Fact is..UK's DEF played better than their stats indicated, as the Offensive ineptitude played a huge role in those DEF stats & the downturn in UK's yr. To not state that is being disingenuous to what caused UK's struggles this season.

Honest Question
Honest Question

There's something I've been hearing quite a bit on the radio in Atlanta and on TV: The NCAA is going to do something to Penn State. It was mentioned in the story above, as well. Question: What do a string of alleged crimes that are sexual in nature have to do with the NCAA? I agree the crimes are horrible, but I don't think that the Penn State football program should be, or will be, punished for them by the NCAA. Am I missing something here?


The lawyer who runs the web site OutKick the Coverage wrote a long article a couple weeks ago explaining how the NCAA could apply their rules to penalize Penn State. I'm not a lawyer so I didn't understand all the reasoning but it appeared to me that some of the rules are written vaguely enough that the NCAA could use them to penalize anyone for anything.

I agree with you though. This seems to be something the NCAA shouldn't be much involved with. The NCAA should enforce their rules against teams that are unfairly trying to get a competitive advantage on the field.

Milo Moon
Milo Moon

Where the NCAA is looking is if there was an actual cover up of crimes by the staff that occurred on school property. The nature of the crimes really does not matter. What the NCAA wants to know is did the football coach, asst. football coach and school president and AD actively participate in covering up crimes. That is an NCAA violation and shows lack of institutional control and willingness to commit and cover up crimes. It does not matter if it was shoplifting peanut butter by a player or child sex ring. In this case a crime is a crime. To put it another way - Pinkel's DUI arrest. Pinkel being arrested is not an NCAA violation and the NCAA is not going to get involved. If the school actively worked with police to cover it up, bribed/threaten people to keep the matter quite, then that is an NCAA violation. So don't look at the crime, look at the actions of the school to hide the crime(s) when considering what the NCAA will do or won't do.


Mark Hudspeth has pulled his name out of consideration for the Ole Miss job, reports David Johnson of Hudspeth alluded to Johnson that the Search Committee lead him to believe that his ties to Mississippi State were apparently going to be too much for Ole Miss.

I'll say "no thanks" To Larry Fedora. They choked against UAB and should not have lost to Marshall either. They should be undefeated as well going into the C-USA championship game against Houston this weekend.

Don't really care for Freeze either. The one game where he got to play offensive coordinator, against LSU, LSU thumped us. He's got 1 year at Ark State. I'm tired of 1-hit-wonders. He needs a couple more years to prove his first year as a HC at a somewhat major program wasn't a fluke. Then there is of course his connection to Pete Boone - connections most Ole Miss fans want to get away from.

Sonny Dykes could be an interesting hire. He's an offensive guru for sure. In just two seasons at Louisiana Tech, he's lead the Bulldogs to an 8-4 record and WAC title this year. Can he be effective at an SEC school and recruit well?

I honestly think we need a huge name just to get recruits in the door. Between the Egg Bowl loss and the 2 horrible seasons now and no coach, if I were a recruit, I don't think I'd be giving Ole Miss much thought right now. Hire someone like Mike Leach or Tony Dungy and recruits will be breaking down the door. But those kinds of hires aren't going to happen without an Urban Meyer/Ohio State paycheck kind of deal.


Surely you can appreciate the irony in your name being RebelREALITY and suggesting something like tony dungy coaching ole miss...

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