By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Twelve days after former offensive coordinator Kent Austin was announced as the head coach at Cornell, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has filed his vacancy not once, but twice.
On Monday, Nutt announced co-offensive coordinators with the hiring of veteran Dave Rader and the promotion of offensive line coach Mike Markuson.
Rader had been considered the front-runner, but Nutt also interviewed former University of Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix and former Tulsa and Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Rader, 52, begins his fourth tour of duty as an SEC assistant coach. He had been in private business since his most recent tour of SEC duty, as Alabama’s offensive coordinator under former coach Mike Shula from 2003-2006.
He previously served as head coach at Tulsa for 12 seasons.
Nutt’s attraction to Rader is similar to the appeal he found in Austin three years ago. He’s a coach who can work with young quarterbacks.
“I was looking for a person with 10 or more years of coaching quarterbacks, a man with outstanding knowledge of the passing game and a man of great character,” Nutt said. “We found that in Dave Rader. He has experience teaching quarterbacks and helping them with the decision-making process.”
The experience with quarterbacks was an edge the finalists had over some other names that surfaced during the search, including Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer, the son of former Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer.
Rader will be tasked with getting a first-year starter ready for weekly SEC rigors. The candidates are third-year sophomore Nathan Stanley and redshirt freshman Raymond Cotton in the spring. Junior college transfer Randall Mackey, currently a verbal commitment, is expected to join the mix in August.
Nutt calls Rader a “tremendous asset.”
The promotion of Markuson affirms the significant role in the offense he already played.
While Austin was on board, Markuson, who has been on Nutt’s staff for 16 years, held the title of run game coordinator.
In 2007 the Ole Miss offensive line ranked ninth in the SEC in sacks allowed, but in the last two seasons under Markuson the Rebels have finished in the SEC’s top five in the top 20 nationally in that category.
While the 2009 offensive line struggled early to replace All-American Michael Oher, the group evolved to a higher level of play at the end of the year when freshman Bobby Massie was inserted at right tackle.
Markuson’s lines helped Nutt’s teams rank in the top three in the SEC in rushing for seven straight seasons, a streak that ended this season.
While the Rebels finished 2009 sixth in the SEC with 182.8 rushing yards a game, they did enjoy a home run threat every play once Dexter McCluster moved to tailback.
McCluster finished with 1,169 yards, the second-highest total in school history, while playing tailback for roughly half a season.
In the process he became the first player in SEC history to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing and more than 500 yards receiving in the same season.