Back at work today and catching up on a few key news items that occurred while I was away. ...
The biggest news items to occur last week while I got holidays off the books dealt with basketball and football.
The Rebels lost 68-56 to Middle Tennessee State, a loss that sent their RPI plummeting to near 50. Worse news was the fact that junior forward Murphy Holloway was lost to a bad ankle sprain with roughly 10 minutes left in the game.
What had been a close game turned into a one-sided affair in favor of Middle the rest of the way showing exactly how important Holloway is to Ole Miss. His absence creates a rebounding void, and it's unclear when he'll return. He looked to be in a great deal of pain leaving the floor.
Sometimes ankle injuries tend to linger, and they can limit the explosiveness of high-energy players like Holloway. We'll see how he responds. The bright side for Holloway and this type of injury is that he's got a mental toughness that may help him in his recovery.
Middle's not a bad team, athletic and well-coached, but it will be judged a bad loss in terms of resume building.
The Rebels can counter that loss, to some degree, with a win at Dayton Thursday. The Flyers are 9-4, and if Ole Miss can get the win it would be a third road win against a team from a third different respected conference, this time the A-10. Ole Miss has already beaten teams from the Big East (DePaul) and Big 10 (Penn State) on the road.
In football, the school sent out a release last week saying assistant coach Gunter Brewer had “parted ways” with the program.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Brewer turned down an offer to remain at Ole Miss.
This is not terribly surprising. Freeze is an offensive coach who was hired to implement his system. Brewer is an offensive coach who has ideas too and has reached a point in his career where he's qualified to be a coordinator or a high-level assistant with in-put.
As the son of former coach Billy Brewer, Brewer's history with the program, plus his own personality and success in business, endeared him to many Ole Miss fans.
When Houston Nutt hired three new coaches last January in his quest to turn things around, Brewer was the one who came to be at Ole Miss, not because he had a history with Nutt. He did not. He gave up a lot in leaving his job at Oklahoma State, a team that was in the national championship conversation until the final BCS rankings were released, but moving was a high risk proposition in a risky business.
Hopefully Freeze, Brewer and the Rebels will all land on their feet.
The other football news involved three mid-year juco enrollees, two of them on the offensive line.
Not only do Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke have major work to do up front, they face the possibility of attrition. Two players – junior tackle Bobby Massie and junior center A.J. Hawkins, who lost his starting job at mid-season – have said they'll test the waters regarding the NFL draft.
It seems the line would have been more productive this season if there were two draft-ready underclassmen on board, but you never know who players are listening to or what decisions they will make when it comes to the idea of beginning the pursuit of a professional career.
Freeze picked up a tackle from Coahoma CC, Darone Bailey (6-6, 315), who was all-state as a freshman and injured as a sophomore, and Pierce Burton (6-9, 290) of City College of San Francisco.
The third signee was Dehendret Collins, juco All-American cornerback at Co-Lin.
Collins had six interceptions and 11 pass break-ups last year. Freeze has identified depth in the secondary as a top priority along with the offensive line.