Coaching search entertainment | Ole Miss Sports

Coaching searches can be both exhuasting and wildly entertaining at the same time.

The two best “scenarios” I heard during the Ole Miss search that ended with the hiring of Hugh Freeze Sunday were these: Phil Fulmer and Jimmy Johnson.

I heard Fulmer early in the search. It was presented not as “This is going to happen” but as “This should happen and would be good for Ole Miss.” The idea was not Fulmer alone, but with the guarantee that he would be joined by LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis. The two were highly successful together when Fulmer was head coach at Tennessee.

Fulmer, of course, did not fit the age and energy description that seems to be popular among coaching candidates these days. Not that he can’t coach, but he’s very different from Freeze in those categories.

Chavis, by the way, just won the Broyles Award which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Jimmy Johnson came to me much later in the search. It’s not clear if Howie, Terry and JB would come along from the set at Fox studios and join up as assistants.

The theory said that Johnson was helping a friend’s son, a junior college offensive lineman, find a place to play, that place being Ole Miss. Through the conversations Johnson became interested in the job. Supposedly there’s an itch to coach and a desire to prove himself against the upper echelon coaches in the SEC.

I can believe the part about Ole Miss needing a junior college offensive lineman.

Whenever a coach search occurs at Ole Miss it seems like Kent Austin’s name comes up. He was popular as an Ole Miss quarterback, successful as a CFL player and a CFL coach, winning the championship with Saskatchewan. He was successful for two years as Ole Miss offensive coordinator, though his hands were tied to a degree as Houston Nutt was more involved with the offense at that time.

Austin has been less successful as head coach at Cornell (7-13 in 2 years, 5-5 this year) but is now being courted for a possible return to Saskatchewan.

I am reminded that once upon a time during one Ole Miss coaching search former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was believed, by some, to be a candidate. That was before my time, but that’s a story that’s been handed down.

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