Despite being under the cloud of NCAA allegations, the Freeze news, in theory, should help ease some of that burden. And despite the Rebels residing in the competitive SEC West, this is still a very attractive job, given the investment the school has made in the football program, and its proximity to top talent.
With that in mind, there are a number of possible targets and candidates for the job. Some of the names have a familiarity with the SEC but perhaps most importantly right now, Ole Miss needs a candidate who will keep the program out of trouble with the NCAA.
This is the big fish. The problem is that Chip Kelly doesn’t have a squeaky-clean NCAA image, as he did have to serve an 18-month show cause penalty after committing recruiting violations at Oregon. Those aside, his college track record is outstanding. He went 46-7 in his time with the Ducks, and he did it despite never having a top-10 recruiting class per the 247Sports rankings. This would be the slam dunk hire for the Rebels, but Kelly figures to have a number of suitors after the season. Kelly will also be doing television for ESPN this fall.
There were a number of reports this past offseason that Les Miles was trying to get back into the head coaching game, whether it be at Western Michigan or Purdue. He’s already won a ton of games in the SEC West, as he went 114-34 at LSU. Miles recently said that he’ll be doing television this fall, but that was before the Ole Miss gig came open.
Like Miles, Mark Helfrich was fired in 2016. He has no experience in the SEC, but he did lead Oregon to a national championship game appearance in his time with the Ducks. He’s a well-regarded offensive mind and does not currently have a job. In his four seasons at Oregon, Helfrich went 37-16. And he does have experience with cleaning up NCAA sanctions, as his teams were on probation following Kelly’s time in Eugene.
Mike Bobo fits the mold of an SEC coach. Prior to becoming the head coach at Colorado State in 2015, he had spent all but one season of his 15-year coaching career with the Georgia Bulldogs. He produced a number of hugely successful offenses at Georgia, and the Bulldogs have struggled on that side of the ball since his departure. He’s shown the ability to recruit in his time at Georgia, and Colorado State signed the No.2 class among Mountain West teams in the 2017 recruiting cycle. He’s 14-12 in his first two seasons with the Rams, but that’s a better mark than Jim McElwain had in his first two years before going 10-3 in his third year and landing the Florida job.
Before you Google his name, Blake Anderson is the head coach at Arkansas State. The last head coach Ole Miss hired came from Arkansas State — Hugh Freeze. But Anderson has spent time in Mississippi, as he served as quarterbacks coach, running game coordinator and offensive coordinator in his four seasons at Southern Miss (2008-11). In the last two seasons, Anderson’s teams have gone 15-1 against Sun Belt conference foes.
This one might be tough to pull off, given that Phil Longo was passed up for the interim role, but Longo is already at Ole Miss. Longo was the offensive coordinator at Sam Houston State prior to joining the Rebels staff. His 2016 team went 12-1 and led the FCS in total offense and scoring offense (per game). If he can help the Rebels put up some points as offensive coordinator this year, he could be a logical, long-term replacement for Freeze.
Hugh Freeze resignation coverage from SEC Country
- Ole Miss names Matt Luke interim after Hugh Freeze resigns
- Report: Ole Miss found ‘at least one’ call from Hugh Freeze to female escort service
- What Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork and Chancellor Jeff Vitter said after Hugh Freeze’s resignation
- Internet goes nuts over shocking details of Hugh Freeze’s resignation at Ole Miss