By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss offensive coordinator Kent Austin will be introduced today as the new head coach at Cornell, according to multiple reports.
The departure of Austin, a former Ole Miss quarterback, comes a week before national signing day and creates the first true coordinator opening for Houston Nutt at Ole Miss.
Penn State linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden was also a Cornell finalist.
Austin was a rookie head coach with Saskatchewan when he guided the CFL’s Roughriders to the league championship in 2007. He played in the CFL for 10 seasons and coaches in the league for five more.
He was hired in January of 2008 to replace David Lee, Nutt’s offensive coordinator at Arkansas, who accepted a job with the Miami Dolphins and did not follow Nutt from Fayetteville.
Nutt could not be reached for comment.
Although Austin was offensive coordinator, he did not call the plays and was not the highest-paid offensive staff member.
“Kent’s at his best in the box, when it’s third-and-8. Then it’s, ‘OK, Kent, what do you think?’ That’s where he’s brought the most,” Nutt said of Austin in December, 2008.
Cornell, a member of the Ivy League located in Ithaca, N.Y., was just 2-8 last year and ended the season with an eight-game losing streak. Offense was a particular problem for a team that surpassed 27 points just once.
In Austin’s first season at Ole Miss the Rebels improved from 12th in the SEC in scoring at 20.1 points a game to second at 32.1 points.
Much of that improvement was due to the passing of quarterback Jevan Snead, Austin’s pupil as quarterbacks coach, who completed 56.3 percent of his passes and threw for 26 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Snead finished the season on such a roll that some NFL draft analysts projected him the No. 1 pick this year.
This season Snead regressed, throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns, 20 in both categories.
Austin was a three-year letterman from 1981-1985 and continues to rank among career leaders in multiple passing categories.
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org