It’s official: Ole Miss has a new offensive and defensive coordinator.
The Rebels announced on Friday that they had hired Sam Houston State offensive coordinator Phil Longo to the same position and Auburn defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff as Ole Miss’ next defensive coordinator.
Coach Hugh Freeze commented on each hire in a Friday press release:
- On Longo: “We explored every name for this position, but Phil has been on my radar for a long time and it was clear that he is the man that can take our offense from good to great,” Freeze said. “Over the past three years, he has authored one of the most prolific and innovative offenses in all divisions of college football. Specifically, his units have excelled in three key areas that we need to address — rushing offense, third down efficiency and red zone success. From Chip Kelly to Joe Moorhead, we have seen offensive coordinators make successful transitions from FCS to FBS, and I expect Phil to continue that trend.”
- On McGriff: “Wesley is the total package — an outstanding leader, creative coach and dynamic recruiter,” Freeze said. “The defenses have been outstanding at every place he has been, and his most recent experience at Auburn has him well prepared for this opportunity. He helped lead a unit that was tremendous at stopping the run, limiting explosive plays and being stingy in the red zone, and we look forward to Wesley applying those same principles to our young men on that side of the ball.”
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.
Sam Houston State scored on 80.3 percent of red zone chances this season, good for best in the nation. Longo’s offenses generally features a pass-heavy attack, but did finish within the top-10 FCS programs in rushing offense each of the past two seasons
“My family and I are excited to be joining the Ole Miss community,” Longo said in a press release. “I am looking forward to working together with the offensive staff and taking advantage of the opportunity that Coach Freeze has provided me.”
McGriff comes to Oxford 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).
His stint on The Plains came after three seasons as defensive backs coach with the New Orleans Saints. He also spent the 2012 season as Ole Miss’ co-defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, helping the Rebels defense finish second in the SEC in tackles for loss (7.7) and sacks per game (2.8).
He has also coached at Vanderbilt, Miami, Baylor and Kentucky.
“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to return to Ole Miss and work with Coach Freeze again,” McGriff said. “Obviously, I am familiar with the history and tradition of success here. This is an elite program, and I look forward to helping this team win championships.”