Coach Hugh Freeze came to the harsh reality: It was time for change in Oxford.
“I think we had been together so long it was just time to shake that up some,” Freeze said of his previous staff Friday on The Paul Finebaum Show.
That change came on Friday as Ole Miss announced the hires of two new Rebels coaches — offensive coordinator Phil Longo and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff.
After coaching at Ole Miss with the same offensive and defensive coordinators since 2012, Freeze will now adjust his coaching style moving forward.
“I’m looking forward to being in the game more as a head coach. Obviously, I’ve had to do that but was very involved offensively in some parts of that. Then last year, defensively too, I tried to wear too many hats. I apologized to both Dave (Wommack) and Dan (Werner) after the season,” Freeze said.
“I owned what I thought to be my shortcomings in not being able to help them enough in certain areas. Or either making it more confusing and more difficult for them. I’ve learned from those mistakes hopefully and excited to giving control to McGriff and Phil and assisting them in certain areas of preparation and certain calls during the game.”
Longo comes to Oxford after leading the FCS’s No. 1-ranked offense last season. He helped lead Sam Houston State to the FCS playoffs in each of his three seasons in Texas. The Bearkats led the nation in total offense (547.3 yards per game) and finished No. 2 in scoring offense (49.5 points per game) in 2016.
McGriff joins the Rebels after one season as Auburn’s defensive backs coach. He helped lead the Tigers to a Sugar Bowl appearance this season, and aided Auburn in finishing with a top 3 SEC defense in scoring defense (11th in 2015/26 points per game to 2nd/15.6), rushing defense (11th/182.7 to 3rd/124.8) and third-down conversion defense (13th/44.9 to 2nd/34.0).
He also coached at Ole Miss in 2012 as the Rebels’ co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach.