Ole Miss vs Auburn: 5 Head Coaching Upgrades over Houston Nutt
With every loss, the end of the Houston Nutt era draws closer. However, just firing a coach is not good enough. You must find a coach who is an upgrade over your current coach. As a result, the Ole Miss Rebels must be careful not to make change just for the sake of change.
I have listed five coaches who would put the Rebels in a better situation. Not all of them are proven coaches, but all of them should be able to assemble a staff that will get Ole Miss back on track.
No. 5: Kirby Smart
Hiring Kirby Smart would have to be a shot of desperation. If Ole Miss were unable to get anyone else to bite, Smart might be worth the gamble.
Smart has been a solid defensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide. Each season the Tide are among the nation’s elite on the defensive side of the ball. He is a well-respected recruiter and a workaholic—which the Rebels will need.
The gamble with Smart is simple. We are not even sure how much of the defense success at Alabama is his and how much belongs to Saban. Saban has a one-voice policy for his football program. While this is a successful model for the overall health of the football program, it leaves the assistant coaches with little experience.
Smart supporters will argue that Smart would be another branch on the Saban coaching tree. However, they should consider two things. One, the coaches who took on high profile jobs first left Saban and branched out on their own. Secondly, the Saban coaching tree has not yielded much on field success.
Smart would be a high risk hire but he also could yield a high return.
No. 4: Skip Holtz
If the Rebels could hire Skip Holtz it would be a grand slam hire. The other coaches on this list are either coordinators or former coaches in need of a second chance.
Could Ole Miss sway him to leave USF?
Holz currently makes $1.9 million per season. Would Ole Miss be willing to pony up the money needed to bring Holtz over? I am not convinced that they are and that is why he is not higher on the list. Their greatest benefit would be if they offered him complete control over an SEC team
Ole Miss could be looking for a new coach sooner than later if things don't turn around quickly for current head coach Houston Nutt, and Skip Holtz might be the best suited person for his replacement. Holtz not only has a great pedigree, but he has proven to be a very good coach and one who is able to rebuild programs.
If you are not impressed by his 34-23 coaching record while at East Carolina, consider they were only 3-22 in the 25 games prior to his arrival. Holtz could look at the Ole Miss job as an opportunity to prove that he is one of college football's top young coaches.
Holtz has also won three conference titles in his career. He understands the importance of recruiting, but he also has a history of developing those young recruits into solid contributors.
No. 3: Bronco Mendenhall
There is an old saying, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Perhaps Ole Miss should take that approach and reach out to current BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
In his six seasons as a head coach, he won ten or more games in four of those seasons. His teams have finished the season ranked in the top 25 four times. It is clear that he can recruit because he was able to lure the No.1 quarterback in the nation to BYU two seasons ago,
The draw for Mendenhall is simple—money.
He currently makes $850,000 a year. Houston Nutt, on the other hand, is making $2,750,000.
BYU is paying $91,000 per win. Ole Miss is paying $340,901 per win. The math is simple.
No. 2: Gus Malzahn
Gus Malzahn is not having his best season as an offensive coordinator. However, he has five tremendous seasons on his resume. This season’s woes are the result of a young offensive line and unproven playmakers.
Malzahn has also proven that his roots in Arkansas are great for recruiting. Currently, Auburns best player, Michael Dyer, and their player with the highest ceiling, Kiehl Frazier, are both from Arkansas. Being Mississippi’s neighbor could prove to be a great value.
Coming into this season, in Malzahn's five years as an offensive coordinator, his teams have averaged almost 11 wins per season (10.8).
Think he didn't have much to do with that success? Think again!
The seasons prior to his arrival at these three schools that he served as an offensive coordinator for they averaged less than six wins per season (5.66).The season after he left they only averaged 6.5 wins.
Some will argue that if he turned down Vandy, he is sure to turn down Ole Miss. However, consider this fact: While Vandy was offering Malzahn a tremendous financial package, building a team at Vanderbilt is difficult because of the academic standards.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, has proven that they will take in athletes with questionable paths for the sake of winning football games
No. 1: Mike Leach
There is no mistaking that the Ole Miss football program is in decline and Mike Leach is the answer to all of their problems. Leech is a system coach that has yet to be slowed down. He can take average players and get dynamic results.
The NCAA record books are filled with players who were coached by Leach. With his reputation for developing players, and the lure of the SEC, recruiting would be taken to the next level at Ole Miss.
Leech also has SEC ties. He served as the offensive coordinator for Kentucky two seasons in 1997 and 1998. During his time in Kentucky, his offense broke four NCAA records, 42 SEC records and 116 school records. During that time, he helped Tim Couch become a No.1 pick in the NFL draft.
Yes there is baggage that comes with Leach. However, Ole Miss hired Houston Nutt, so eccentric coaches must not be an issue for them. Mike Leach was able to take Texas Tech from a bottom feeder to a top 25 team.
Ole Miss is unlikely to field the talent level to be a consistent SEC contender without some type of gimmick offense. However, Leach could help make theme relevant again.