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Ole Miss Hires 4; Vandy Now A Real, Live Football Program

Yesterday, Ole Miss officially announced the hirings of three assistants for its football program:

* Former Rebel player Grant Heard will follow Hugh Freeze from Arkansas State where he was the Red Wolves’ passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  In Oxford, he’ll be the receivers coach.

* Paul Jackson has been hired as UM’s new strength and conditioning coach.  Jackson is moving just up the road from Hattiesburg where he handled the same duties at Southern Miss last season.  From 2007 to 2010 he served on LSU’s strength staff.

* Finally, Mississippi has officially hired Wesley McGriff to be the team’s co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach.  McGriff comes to Ole Miss from Vanderbilt.

* It’s also been reported that a fourth coach — Dan Werner — will be taking over as UM’s quaterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.  Werner worked with Freeze on Ed Orgeron’s Ole Miss staff.  Werner comes to Ole Miss from a private high school where he has been serving as head coach.

Which brings us to the Vandy part of this story.  James Franklin got a lot of people believing on Nashville’s West End this year and nothing that’s happened since the end of the season should change that.  In fact, Vanderbilt’s starting to look like a real, live, honest-to-God SEC football program.

What do I mean by that?  McGriff is the second assistant coach Vandy has lost this year.  Chris Beatty left the Dores’ program to become a co-offensive coordinator at Illinois last week.

Also, Franklin himself has become a bit controversial.  He’s had postgame dust-ups with Georgia and Tennessee assistants (blame whoever you like).  He’s had at least one exiting player accuse him via Twitter of running players off his team.  And today there’s a bit more buzz.

Running back prospect I’Tavius Mathers has re-upped his commitment to Ole Miss because he “just felt like (Vandy’s coaches) weren’t being completely honest with me” regarding playing time.  The player’s father added: “He wanted to go to Vanderbilt.  But they were playing around with him on his playing time.  They were not being honest with me in what they wanted to do.”

So while Ole Miss is adding assistants and a top running back recruit, Vanderbilt is adding street cred.  Franklin has Vandy making the kind of headlines normally associated with the other 11 programs in the SEC.  And that’s a step in the right direction if you’re a Commodore fan.

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