By The Associated Press
OXFORD — Houston Nutt is turning the Mississippi offense over to a familiar face with NFL experience.
The Ole Miss coach has hired Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee as his offensive coordinator. Nutt, shaking up his staff after a dismal 4-8 season, said he is turning over play-calling responsibilities to Lee.
“When you turn over the play-calling duty, it’s important that you know that coach very well,” Nutt said. “We have the same type of philosophy. I love his experience with the professional game and with quarterbacks.”
Lee, 57, is no stranger to Nutt or the college game.
He worked with Nutt at Arkansas on two occasions. He was quarterbacks coach in 2001 and ’02, and then returned in 2007 to become the offensive coordinator. Lee initially followed Nutt to Ole Miss after the 2007 season, but decided to take a job with the Dolphins.
Lee takes over for Dave Rader, who is leaving with one year remaining on a contract that pays $275,000 annually.
“Dave Rader is a great coach and a class act,” Nutt said. “We just needed to do some different things.”
The Ole Miss offense scored 30.6 points per game this fall, which ranked seventh in the SEC.
Nutt said shedding play-calling responsibilities will free him to work more with the defense, which gave up an SEC-worst 35.2 points per game.
“I just felt like I need to spend more time on the defensive side of the ball,” Nutt said. “I feel like I don’t give them the time that I need. I’ll be able to spend a little more time around them, getting to watch them and be in the meeting rooms.”
Details of Lee’s contract were not immediately released.
Lee’s tenure with the Dolphins was mixed. The quarterback play was often spotty, but he was credited with bringing the “Wildcat” formation to the NFL in 2008, which features a running back that takes a direct snap.
In addition to Lee’s hiring, Nutt said Mike Markuson’s coaching title will be changed from co-offensive coordinator to running game coordinator.
Nutt wasn’t sure if he was done making changes to his coaching staff. Receivers coach Ron Dickerson, Jr., is a candidate for the Gardner-Webb coaching job.
“I’m still working through some things,” Nutt said. “We’ve got a really good recruiting class coming together. I’m just trying to do what’s best for Ole Miss.”