Who will be the next football coach at Ole Miss?
That’s a debate going on well beyond Oxford, Miss. in the weeks following the disgraced resignation of former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze.
On Monday, CBS Sports columnist Dennis Dodd took a shot at compiling a list of “realistic” names Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork may be interested in following the upcoming season. And let’s just say there were some serious head-scratchers among the 15 names on the SEC-centric list.
SEC head coaches
Butch Jones, Tennessee: Jones is coming off back-to-back Top 25 seasons in Knoxville and would likely require a serious nose-dive in performance this fall to even be in a position to need this job, but Dodd doesn’t want to ignore his recent change to agent Jimmy Sexton. “Jones’ recent move to super agent Jimmy Sexton reminds us that nothing will happen at Ole Miss until Jimmy says it does,” Dodd wrote.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: Sumlin’s name is a favorite among hot-seat watchers due to his AD’s statement about winning this season in College Station. But would the Rebels really hire a SEC West coach who was in better position at another institution? Would Kevin Sumlin really go to a program with an NCAA investigation casting dark clouds? Seems like he could do better.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss (interim): Hey, Luke deserves a chance to earn this job. Right? Well, it’ll probably take a very impressive season, but Dodd is right to include the in-house choice as a “realistic” candidate.
Former SEC head coaches
Les Miles, free agent: Dodd claims that Miles’ odds go up the longer that the job stays open, writing that a December opening should up his chances dramatically.
Lane Kiffin, FAU: Technically, Kiffin was listed as one of five “longshots” outside of the list of “realistic” choices, but he’s enough of a wild card to make sure his name was mentioned.
SEC assistant coaches
Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama defensive coordinator: Another SEC coach fresh off the Nick Saban coaching tree? It wouldn’t be the wildest idea to see Pruitt step into the head coaching ranks in the SEC West, but another solid season with the Crimson Tide may open his window of opportunity to a job with a little less baggage.
Former SEC assistant coaches
Frank Wilson, UTSA head coach: The long-time LSU assistant branched off on his own last season and had a nice Year 1 as the head coach at UTSA, which ended with a bowl appearance. At 43 years old and a strong understanding of recruiting in the SEC, Wilson may be one of the more realistic candidates out there.
Geoff Collins, Temple head coach: The former Florida defensive coordinator is just getting his feet wet as a head coach at Temple. Would an opening in the SEC West make it a one-year stop with the Owls?
Neal Brown, Troy head coach: The former Kentucky offensive coordinator has a 14-11 record after two years with Troy. At 37, the time may be right for Brown to take on a rebuild project in Oxford.
You can see the rest of Dodds’ “reaslistic” choices here.