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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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SEC Headlines – 12/21/11

1.  A number of Alabama footballers are weighing their NFL options.

2.  The Tide hoops team will try to regain its shooting touch against Oklahoma State tonight.

3.  Alabama, Auburn and LSU lead the SEC in football staff salaries.

4.  Tiger defensive back Jermaine Whitehead had to grow up fast this season.

5.  Arkansas had to overcome some cold shooting to off EKU last night.

6.  Les Miles is the AP’s Coach of the Year in college football.

7.  LSU expects another physical game with Alabama in the BCS title game.

8.  Mississippi State’s defense is ready for Wake Forest’s undersized offensive line.

9.  Dan Mullen won’t say if Chris Relf or a banged-up Tyler Russell will start at quarterback.

10.  Hugh Freeze says he did his best to keep assistant coach Gunter Brewer at Ole Miss, but he’s going to North Carolina anyway.

11.  But former UM player Grant Heard will join the Rebels’ staff as receivers coach.

12.  It sounds like Florida’s Brian White has a leg up on the vacant offensive coordinator gig.  (Here’s what we wrote on that topic yesterday.)

13.  Grad assistant Jeff Blasko is being promoted to quarterbacks coach at UF.

14.  The loss of strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti to Ohio State was a big, big blow to some Gators.

15.  Move over, Micheal Scott.  Georgia’s Mark Richt is the World’s Greatest Boss.

16.  UGA has more questions at the quarterback position than you might think.

17.  Samford’s Princeton-style offense was good practice for Kentucky last night.

18.  UK walk-on Sam Malone will have to have a fourth major knee surgery… a situation John Calipari calls “heartbreaking.”

19.  Ellis Johnson won’t be coaching South Carolina’s defense in the Capital One Bowl after all.  (We’re hearing increasing rumors of a bit of rift between Johnson and Steve Spurrier, by the way.)

20.  Spurrier says he has “several guys in mind” that might replace Johnson and current defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is one of them.

21.  Kenny Miles will start at tailback for the Cocks rather than Brandon Wilds.

22.  Tennessee beat back the losing-streak virus last night against UNC-Asheville.

23.  The Vols finally toughed out a win.

24.  Vanderbilt’s perimeter defense will be tested by Lafayette’s long-range gunners.

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