Podcast Rebellion: BOWL MANIA WEEK ONE IS HERE

We’ve got a doozy of a Saturday to kick off Bowl Season.

HEY BOWL GAMES REMEMBER THOSE?

We preview this weekend’s bowl slate and also talk some FCS playoffs and D-III title game.

STAGG BOWL BABY!

Get your picks in and get ready for a weekend full of football with bowl games all day tomorrow, NFL on Sunday, the MS/AL All-Star Game on Monday and then we start it all over again on Tuesday with more bowls all next week.

It’s lit.


Before you watch BOWL MANIA, go see Greg and the good folks at LB’s Meat Market, the inaugural sponsor of this here podcast, to celebrate with the best protein for your Ole Miss grilling needs this weekend. And be sure to tell him RED CUP SENT YA for exclusive deals and promotions!

If you like gambling and good food, go see our good friend Kelly English at the Magnolia House in Biloxi’s Harrah’s Gulf Coast. Blackjack, slots, Southern cooking—what’s not to like?

When you’re looking to stock the cooler for the bowl games, ask for Old Dominick at your local package store and be sure to cop their brand spankin’ new high rye bourbon, Huling Station. They’re located in downtown Memphis, trace their roots back to Italy, and take pride in providing you a true sip of Memphis.

Hoops Opponent Tracker: Butler and Cincinnati are rolling

The Bulldogs and Bearcats are doing their best to help the Rebs’ strength of schedule.

In this weekly feature, we’ll look at the previous opponents of the Ole Miss Rebels basketball team for the 2018-2019 season to see how they are trending in an effort to track the quality of wins the Rebels are compiling.

The last seven days of Ole Miss basketball offered up two more wins to the Rebels’ resume for postseason play.

But what have our opponents been up to?

One of the biggest upsets in the last week involved a team the Rebels won’t play until February - Tennessee. The Vols beat previously No. 1 ranked Gonzaga which will undoubtedly raise the profile for the Southeastern Conference.

The non-conference slate for the Rebels has generated a 7-2 record so far with only three games left before SEC play. First, we’ll look at the resume for our losses - neither of which look terrible at all.

Cincinnati Bearcats (9-1); KenPom: 29

Notable wins: 71-57 vs Ole Miss (KP: 60); 62-47 vs Xavier (KP: 61)

Worst loss: 64-56 vs Ohio State (KP: 19)

Upcoming games: @ No. 18 Mississippi State, UCLA

Butler Bulldogs (7-2); KenPom: 26

Notable win: 61-54 vs Florida (KP: 22)

Worst loss: 64-52 vs Saint Louis (KP: 75)

Upcoming games: No. 25 Indiana, Presbyterian

The Bearcats toppled Xavier this week for a solid win to improve to 9-1, but now they must travel to Starkville this weekend for a tough road game with a chance to really bolster its strength of schedule.

Butler most recently has beaten Brown and Northern Illinois, tuning up for a game against in-state IU this weekend. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index puts that game at 52 percent in favor of the Bulldogs.

Moving on to the win column for Ole Miss, here’s the latest on our conquered foes and how they are helping or hurting our postseason cause.

San Diego Toreros (8-3); KenPom: 89

Notable win: 70-64 vs Colorado (KP: 62)

Worst loss: 93-86 vs Ole Miss (KP: 60)

Upcoming games: Northern Colorado, Washington St.

Baylor Bears (5-3); KP: 69 (NICE)

Notable win: 63-57 vs South Dakota (KP: 174)

Worst loss: 72-69 vs Texas Southern (KP: 224)

Upcoming games: Arizona, No. 18 Oregon

Illinois St. Redbirds (6-5); KP: 154

Notable win: 92-89 vs BYU (KP: 63)

Worst loss: 94-75 vs UIC (KP: 173)

Upcoming games: Cleveland St., Central Florida

Western Michigan Broncos (5-4); KP: 222

Notable win: 85-77 vs Oakland (KP: 242)

Worst loss: 71-66 vs USC Upstate (KP: 326)

Upcoming games: No. 5 Michigan, Dayton

Nicholls St. Colonels (5-4); KP: 273

Notable win: 62-61 vs Western Michigan (KP: 222)

Worst loss: 89-72 vs Washington St. (KP: 175)

Upcoming games: Boston University, Louisiana Monroe

Louisiana Monroe (4-4); KP: 219

Notable win: 72-67 vs Grambling St (KP: 297)

Worst loss: 79-73 vs Tennessee Tech (KP: 328)

Upcoming games: Stephen F Austin, Nicholls St.

Southeastern Louisiana (4-5); KP: 300

Notable win: 62-61 vs Tulane (KP:212)

Worst loss: 69-58 vs Miss. Valley St. (KP: 349)

Upcoming games: Cal. Baptist, Grambling St.

The Rebels grabbed a nice true road win over No. 154 Illinois St. who plays a pretty challenging schedule out of conference. Ole Miss also grabbed a neutral site win over SELA in Jackson on Wednesday by a 22-point margin, and according to the numbers, it should have probably been worse potentially.

Next up for Ole Miss on Sunday is a home game against No. 310 Chattanooga followed by a neutral site clash in Nashville, Tenn. versus No. 240 Middle Tennessee State.

Ole Miss could have three 1st round NFL Draft picks… again

Photos by USA Today | Design by Jeff Gray

Greg Little, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf have all declared early.

On Monday afternoon, in a subdued tweet that noted he “will always be a Rebel,” star left tackle Greg Little announced that he will forego his senior season at Ole Miss and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Little, who signed with Hugh Freeze’s team in February of 2016 as a unanimous five-star, is projected by ESPN’s Todd McShay ESPN’s Todd McShay to be the first O-lineman off the board and a top-10 overall pick. Like former Rebel star Laremy Tunsil, Little came out of high school as the No. 1 offensive line prospect and heads to the NFL Draft with the same title.

It’s Freeze’s 2014 class, which included Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche, that’s best known, but his 2016 class was even better, landing Ole Miss in the top five of national recruiting rankings for the first time in program history. It’s poised to deliver three first-round picks in April, which could be more than any school not named Alabama.

Little’s announcement came a week and a half after that of stud wideout A.J. Brown, who’s been projected as high as the No. 2 pick and is a probably a lock in the top 15. He followed fellow wideout D.K. Metcalf, who may just have the biggest upside of the group. Metcalf would probably be a top-15 guy if not for a season-ending neck injury, but even still he’s ranked 31st by CBS Sports.

On that CBS ranking, only Bama has more than three prospects inside the top 32 (Ohio State is the only other with three).

Make your jokes about Freeze and his bag men, but the level of offensive talent he was able to aggregate at a school with middling historical success is astounding. That Ole Miss could have three first-rounders in any year is surprising in itself—that it could happen twice in the span of three years is mind-blowing.

The returns on that talent acquisition are another story. Little, Brown and Metcalf leave Ole Miss with just a 16-20 overall record. Freeze’s dramatic resignation in 2017 certainly disrupted things and offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s inability to capitalize on the talent Freeze left him is a big reason he’ll be coaching in Chapel Hill instead of Oxford next season.

Still, Little, Brown and Metcalf made Ole Miss football a hell of lot more fun to watch over the past few years than it otherwise would have been. In the past two seasons alone, the two wideouts combined for 225 receptions, 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns. Little anchored one of the most reliable line groups in school history and was no small part of a massive improvement in the running game.

Here’s a look at each guy’s profile heading into April’s draft.

Greg Little

CBS Sports overall rank: 16th
Mel Kiper WR rank: 5th

What scouts are saying: “Little, who just announced he’s entering the draft, is a true left tackle. He won’t have to move to the right side in the NFL. He’s light on his feet and can get to the second level to take on linebackers, and he consistently overpowers SEC edge defenders at the point of attack. The former five-star high school prospect protected the blind side of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray in high school.” - ESPN’s Mel Kiper

A.J. Brown

CBS Sports overall rank: 24th
Mel Kiper WR rank: 5th

What scouts are saying: When I go back and study the successful wide receivers at the NFL level, I’m always reminded of the most underrated quality they all have in common: toughness. That is the best aspect of Brown’s game. He plays physical from snap to whistle and isn’t afraid to work in the middle of the field. He can continue to learn and develop the craft of being a successful route runner and pass catcher, but you can’t coach toughness. He’s got it. - NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah

D.K. Metcalf

CBS Sports overall rank: 31st
Mel Kiper WR rank: 4th

What scouts are saying: Metcalf is undoubtedly one of college football’s most intimidating downfield threats. He’s not only a burner. Metcalf has consistently showcased impressive wiggle in the open field and plus contact balance when absorbing hits in the open field. Unsurprisingly, he’s a capable high-pointer as well. My comparison for Metcalf is Josh Gordon, another tall, physical receiver with impressive athleticism and serious speed to take the top off any defense.” - CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso

Podcast: Here is your Early Signing Day Primer for defense

How will the Rebs close in the early goings of CROOTIN SZN?

Early Signing Day is less than a week away so we dive into the commits and targets who are signing and enrolling early next Wednesday. We talk about who we think are the impact guys who are already on the commit list and we also talk about the four main targets for Matt Luke and Co. that could potentially make or break this 2019 class.

And we also talk about the Basketsharks and their midweek win over SELA.


Before you watch BOWL MANIA, go see Greg and the good folks at LB’s Meat Market, the inaugural sponsor of this here podcast, to celebrate with the best protein for your Ole Miss grilling needs this weekend. And be sure to tell him RED CUP SENT YA for exclusive deals and promotions!

If you like gambling and good food, go see our good friend Kelly English at the Magnolia House in Biloxi’s Harrah’s Gulf Coast. Blackjack, slots, Southern cooking—what’s not to like?

When you’re looking to stock the cooler for the bowl games, ask for Old Dominick at your local package store and be sure to cop their brand spankin’ new high rye bourbon, Huling Station. They’re located in downtown Memphis, trace their roots back to Italy, and take pride in providing you a true sip of Memphis.

Ole Miss basketball returns to the Mississippi Coliseum with a 69-47 win

The Rebels’ return to the Big House sends us down memory lane.

Of all the coliseums in the world, the Mississippi Coliseum, much to my protests, wouldn’t crack the top 25,000 in the AP World Coliseum Poll, but on Wednesday night, it found itself ranked number one in places Ole Miss was currently playing basketball. Because the BasketRebs whipped off a 69-47 W against a directional Louisiana club.

It’s unlikely the Rebels’ very nice (NICE) 69-47 win over Southeastern Louisiana will leave a lasting impression on par with the time Garth Brooks, at the peak of his powers, rolled into the Coliseum for three consecutive nights of shows in 1996 as part of a world tour that lasted two and a half years (!!!!), but let’s not rule out the effect of Ole Miss holding the Lions (really?) to two made three pointers in 17 attempts. It could have staying power!

In case you missed the memo, it was the first time Ole Miss crossed the Coliseum’s threshold in 11 years. The last time the Rebels made an appearance on those hallowed grounds was in 2007. when Andy Kennedy’s team defeated Winthrop 76-71 and cries of STREETBALL were just underway.

JACKSON, Y’ALL. BASKETBALL.

The Big House, as it is affectionately known, is home to the final stages of Mississippi high school basketball’s state playoffs, but it hasn’t seen a great deal of HEATED December non-conference basketball action. Ole Miss’ absence has been noted, though Mississippi State has played there regularly in recent years, and Southern Mis—lol jk zero chance I’m spending one second looking up anything about Southern Miss basketball.

[large breath]

Though the Coliseum may not get many chances to showcase a state school trashing a non-conference team or acts outside of the Dixie National Rodeo and Disney on Ice, the building has, you know, seen things over the years, man.

BASKETBALL IN JACKSON, Y’ALL.

For starters, when it opened in 1962, the ad wizards who built it did so on top of a DAGGUM VOLCANO. Fortunately for those who have regular appointments to watch the rodeo’s bull riding or Cinderella drop a triple axel on her stepmother, the volcano is estimated to have been extinct for 66 million years, which sounds EXACTLY like what an extinct volcano would say.

BASKETBALL, BUT JACKSON, Y’ALL.

While the stream of entertainment acts to perform there has tailed off, look at the list of past acts. I mean, LOOK AT IT.

Fine, you won’t click the link so here’s a quick sample of who has entertained the people over the years:

  • AC/DC
  • Boyz II Men
  • Cher
  • Elvis
  • Ginuwine (obligatory, click this now)
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Heart (YOU DAMN RIGHT)
  • MC Hammer
  • Prince
  • REO Speedwagon (no one wants to follow that!)
  • The Beach Boys
  • Vanilla Ice (absolutely was in a Miami Hurricanes jersey)
  • Willie Nelson

Additionally, there’s the professional wrasslin’ shows, monster truck rallies, and my personal favorite, the four seasons it was home to a minor league hockey team. Again, a minor league hockey team for four seasons. In Mississippi.

The Jackson Bandits made their Mississippi debut in 1999 after being brought from Maryland by a local sports management group. In perhaps the most Mississippi thing possible, one of the group’s primary owners was Bernie Ebbers, former president and CEO of WorldCom, who eventually had to sell his interest in the team because he was on his way to spending 25 years in a federal penitentiary for fraud and conspiracy to the tune of $11 billion.

CORRUPT HOCKEY BARON IN THE DEEP SOUTH ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

In 2003, one year after Ebbers’ departure from the scene, the Bandits folded, Fortunately, I was able to attend a game before the Bandits — who burned too brightly for this world — sank into the volcano.

The only memory I have of the game is this: there was a massive fight between the teams, which sent all of us in the crowd into delightful insanity. Hockey fight hollerin’ is one of the better forms of hollerin’.

The penalty box was filled with players who lacked their helmets, jerseys, pads, and sticks because those items were all over the ice. The referees had to scoop all of this equipment in their arms, then opened the penalty boxes and dumped everything just inside the door. Y’know.

HOCKEY REFEREES MAD ABOUT DOING HOUSEKEEPING ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

While the Big House’s better days are likely in the rear view mirror, it would a good thing if Ole Miss made a trip there a regular event. Attendance at Wednesday night’s game wasn’t great, but it’s the first year of the Kermit Davis era and enthusiasm around Ole Miss athletics right now is — clears throat, leans head back, shouts — NOT GREAT, BOB.

Make it more of an event, rather than come watch Ole Miss play because it’s $5 and close to your house, and let’s see what happens.

If anything, Ole Miss can add “played yet another game on top of a volcano and were not incinerated” to the basketball media guide.

The Rebs won by 22 points over a lesser opponent on neutral ground. Let’s see where that carries them in March.

Don’t get too excited about Phil Longo, UNC fans

Longo’s Ole Miss offenses put up gaudy numbers but struggled against good defenses.

There was a lot of eye-rolling in the college football world the day North Carolina re-hired Mack Brown. Sure, he had an unprecedented run of success in Chapel Hill in the ‘90s and won a national championship at Texas, but he also stumbled through his final years in Austin and has spent the past five years in an announcers booth.

Rather than find a young innovator, North Carolina turned to a known—and, the argument goes, stale—commodity. SB Nation’s Bill Connelly sums it up this way:

Thirty years ago, UNC hired a charismatic 36-year-old named Mack Brown... an exciting recruiter who had just taken Tulane to its first bowl in seven years. Within six years, he’d unleash a run of success that UNC hadn’t seen in 50 years and hasn’t seen since.

Instead of finding the next Brown, though, UNC just decided to hire the old one again.

Of course, the North Carolina administration fully realizes that Brown, who will turn 68 before he retakes the sideline in Chapel Hill next season, isn’t a dynamic innovator. That’s not why they hired him. Like Herm Edwards at Arizona State, Brown will be employed as a CEO-coach—a recruiter and program manager who can surround himself with talented coordinators capable of handling in-game tactics.

On Tuesday, we learned that one of those coordinators will be Phil Longo, who spent the past two seasons coaching the Ole Miss offense. On the surface, it looks like just the hire Brown needed: a former FCS offensive guru whose uptempo, balanced Air Raid adaptation landed an SEC West team in the top 10 nationally in yards per game.

But hiring Longo is more of a risk than it might seem.

It’s hard to argue against the overall numbers Longo’s Ole Miss offenses accumulated: in 2018, the Rebels ranked fifth nationally in yards per pass, seventh in yards per play and 12th in offensive S&P+.

But a more nuanced look at the numbers reveals a concerning trend: during his two year tenure, Longo racked up yards and points against overmatched opponents but routinely underwhelmed against top defenses. In 15 games against teams ranked outside the top 60 in defensive S&P+, Longo’s offense poured on eight yards per play and over 41 points per contest; in eight games against defenses inside the top 30, those numbers plummet to 4.9 yards per play and about 15 points per game.

Sure, any offense’s production will dip against top competition, but a disparity that large is significant. Huge outputs against bad defenses—like 40 points* and 546 yards vs. Texas Tech or a 70-point, 826-yard explosion against Louisiana-Monroe—provide statistical cover for struggles against better conference teams.

*All scoring stats in this article exclude defensive and special teams touchdowns.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Longo’s system worked when his offense had a talent advantage. When it didn’t... not so much.

The bedrock principle of Longo’s offense is simplicity. He famously runs less than 30 plays, each of which include a plethora of individual post-snap options that allow players to adapt to what the defense gives them. By cutting down on memorization, he reasons, he frees his athletes to react.

That worked great against lesser defenses, when the loaded Ole Miss offense could lean on its athletic superiority. Years of Freeze’s recruiting handed Longo one of the most talent-rich offenses in school history: three Rebel wideouts will play in the NFL next year, including likely first-rounders A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf; Jordan Ta’amu, whose mobility and pinpoint deep-ball accuracy made him a perfect fit for Longo’s system, was one of the SEC’s best passers; JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips was a revelation at running back and he ran behind a sturdy line anchored by future first-rounder Greg Little and three other returning starters.

But against SEC teams with the talent to match up outside and apply pressure on Ta’amu, the offense faltered. In four games against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State (all of which rank near or above Ole Miss in the 247 Sports team talent composite), Ta’amu completed just 50 percent of his passes and averaged 181 yards per game (nearly 150 yards off his season average) while throwing more picks than touchdowns. Ole Miss averaged just 10.5 points in those games, getting pummeled by a combined score of 173-42.

There’s a thin line between simple and predictable. When the Rebel offense lacked a distinct talent advantage—when coaching and scheme gained importance—it floundered.

While Longo won’t face the same calibre of defense at North Carolina (just five teams in the entire ACC rank top 50 in defensive S&P+ this season; there are five such teams in the SEC West alone), he won’t have anywhere near the offensive talent he enjoyed in Oxford.

Longo lived and died with explosive plays at Ole Miss.

The combination of Ta’amu’s deep ball accuracy and the big-bodied, downfield receiving threats posed by Brown, Metcalf and senior DaMarkus Lodge gave Longo one of the best vertical attacks in the country. Ole Miss ranks second nationally in plays of 30-plus yards and eighth in Bill Connelly’s explosiveness rating.

But if Ole Miss wasn’t scoring from far out, it had trouble scoring at all. As the field shrank, so did the offense’s effectiveness: the Rebels rank 50th in points per trip inside opponents’ 40 yard line and just 59th in red zone scoring percentage. In the five games after Metcalf, the top deep threat, was lost to a season-ending injury, the offense’s points per trip inside the 40 dropped to just over a field goal: 3.3.

Without an elite cast of downfield playmakers, UNC fans have to wonder where Longo’s points will come from.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Not that Longo is doomed to failure in Chapel Hill.

Maybe he can make it work at the FBS level without talents like Ta’amu, Brown and Metcalf. Longo prides his system on its ability to adapt to the players within it. His offense is more balanced than that of a traditional Air Raid and his ability to generate an efficient rushing attack was one of the big reasons Freeze hired him out of the FCS ranks. Indeed, the turnaround he worked with the Rebels run game (59th in rushing S&P+ the year before Longo arrived, 15th this season) is probably his most impressive accomplishment in Oxford.

But Longo was hired to augment, not overhaul, an already successful system designed by Freeze. The pair spent seven months installing these tweaks before Freeze’s dramatic resignation in July of 2017.

It becomes difficult then, to judge how much of Longo’s success in Oxford is the result of Freeze’s system and players. With no prior FBS experience from which to draw evidence, Longo is still somewhat of an unknown, and therefore more of a risk than his gaudy Ole Miss numbers suggest.

Mack Brown is hoping the risk pays off.

Phil Longo is off to UNC. Here are 5 potential replacements.

Ole Miss needs a new offensive coordinator.

Less than three weeks after firing his defensive coordinator, Matt Luke finds himself searching for someone new to coach the other side of the ball. Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo has been hired in that same capacity under Mack Brown at North Carolina, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.

UNC fans and the national media will be quick to gawk at the overall numbers Longo produced in his two years in Oxford—indeed, Feldman noted that the 2018 Ole Miss offense ranked seventh nationally in yards per play and second in gains of 30 or more yards.

But Longo’s offenses routinely struggled against sturdier defenses, averaging just 10.5 points in blowout losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State this season. Most rumors in the wake of the Rebels’ three-point Egg Bowl debacle suggested Ole Miss encouraged Longo to take a new job this offseason.

Either way, Luke now gets to make his own hire at offensive coordinator—remember that Longo was brought in by Freeze a few months before his resignation.

Here are five names you should know heading into the search.

Dan Werner, QB coach at South Carolina

Per Ben Garrett, Luke’s search starts with Werner.

There’s a good chance it will end there.

It was Freeze’s firing of Werner in 2015 that opened the door for Longo’s hiring. Werner and Luke split play calling duties for a couple years, which would make his return to Oxford rather seamless.

The biggest plus here is that Werner, who groomed Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly, is something of a quarterback whisperer. In his recent years in South Carolina, he’s developed Jake Bently into one of the SEC’s better passers. He’s best known for his role with Miami, where he coached 2001 Maxwell Award winner Ken Dorsey, 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta, and Heisman candidates Steve Walsh and Craig Erickson.

Of course, there was a reason Werner was fired from Ole Miss after the 2015 season. His offenses sputtered down the stretch of a 5-7 campaign, having particular issues with rushing efficiency and red zone scoring.

Still, Werner’s the favorite at this point. He knows Luke, knows the recruiting landscape and has documented success in the SEC.

Larry Fedora, former head coach at North Carolina

The College Station, Tex. native has ties in spades in the Magnolia State and head coaching experience.

After stops at Baylor, Air Force, and Middle Tennessee State, Fedora really got his career off the ground in Gainesville as a part of Ron Zook’s staff. He coached running backs and receivers for Florida while also serving as running game coordinator, passing game coordinator, and offensive coordinator.

Then, after spending some time in Stillwater with Mike Gundy, he took the head coach gig at Southern Miss where all he did was win 34 games in four years and take them to a bowl game every season he was in Hattiesburg.

And despite his struggles in Chapel Hill, he did win an ACC division title and take them to four-straight bowl games from 2013-2016. His offenses did high hit marks of 17th, 26th, 27th, 28th, and 38th in S&P+ during his tenure leading the Tar Heels.

He was a part of three elite recruiting classes at Florida (10th, 1st, and 5th) where he recruited blue-chip prospects like Ciatrick Fason, Deshawn Wynn, Andre Caldwell, Chris Leak, and Chad Jackson and his offense at North Carolina attracted NFL players Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Switzer.

Tee Martin, former offensive coordinator at Southern Cal

The former BCS champion quarterback at Tennessee was at USC for six years before being relieved of his duties this offseason. Aside from 2018’s disappointment, Martin put up some impressive numbers, ranking in the top 16 of offensive S&P+ each of the past two seasons. Last year, he helmed the Trojans to their highest per-game yardage total since the Leinart/Bush days.

But Martin’s real strength is ‘crootin. Sure, the network and resources help at Southern Cal, but dude still signed 21 top-100 prospects during his time there. In 2012, Marqise Lee won the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, and was a first team All-American. Martin also recruited and coached Juju Smith-Schuster and Nelson Agholor to first-team Pac-12 and All-American seasons in which they broke conference records.

I’m curious to what kind of relationship he has with Luke given their mutual ties to Tennessee. There wasn’t any overlap between the two of them in Knoxville but one would have to think they have at least spoken a few times. Tee is a Mobile, Ala. native and could potentially want to return to the South to get closer to his son, Clemson standout Amari Rodgers.

Matt Canada, offensive coordinator at Maryland

It is unclear if new Terrapins’ head coach Mike Locksley will keep Canada on board, but if he’s available, you have to interview this dude. In addition to Maryland, he’s held positions at Indiana, Wisconsin, NC State, Pittsburgh and LSU.

Canada is revered for his innovation in the pro spread offense. During each of his stops stops, he’s mixed in looks under center, shotgun, pistol and empty sets. Despite its simplicity, his sets are almost completely different every play, utilizing motions and shifts to confuse the defense and manipulate coverage schemes.

In 2016, his Pitt offense finished fourth in S&P+ and upset eventual national champion Clemson. At LSU, despite shuffling quarterbacks, his offense finished 42nd in S&P+. And this year at Maryland, the Terps were a joy to watch on offense when they damn near upset Big Ten champ Ohio State in overtime.

Also, his Terrapin offense finished 3rd(!) in red zone scoring in 2018.

If Ole Miss is going to empty the bank account on someone, Canada wouldn’t be a bad one to do it on given his track record utilizing pro spread and tempo schemes, something most believe Matt Luke wants to use moving forward.

Zac Roper, offensive coordinator at Duke

An Ole Miss grad, Roper has spent nearly all of his coaching career on staff with former Rebel coach David Cutcliffe at Duke. He was promoted to run the offense in 2018 and rewarded Cutcliffe by jumping 13 spots in S&P+ this season.

Roper’s offense also produced, for the first time in school history, not one, not two, but three players with 500-plus rushing yards each. The three were one of just two in the ACC to post 500-plus rushing yards and six-plus rushing scores each, the same as league champion and College Football Playoff semifinalist Clemson.

I know, I know, he’s a “good Reb”, but he has been a coordinator for several years at a Power 5 school and has done a lot with a limited recruiting network and challenging enrollment standards. If you take away the diploma and his mentor, he’s a pretty good candidate.

Phil Longo is off to UNC. Here are 5 potential replacements.

Ole Miss needs a new offensive coordinator.

Less than three weeks after firing his defensive coordinator, Matt Luke finds himself searching for someone new to coach the other side of the ball. Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo has been hired in that same capacity under Mack Brown at North Carolina, according to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.

UNC fans and the national media will be quick to gawk at the overall numbers Longo produced in his two years in Oxford—indeed, Feldman noted that the 2018 Ole Miss offense ranked seventh nationally in yards per play and second in gains of 30 or more yards.

But Longo’s offenses routinely struggled against sturdier defenses, averaging just 10.5 points in blowout losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State this season. Most rumors in the wake of the Rebels’ three-point Egg Bowl debacle suggested Ole Miss encouraged Longo to take a new job this offseason.

Either way, Luke now gets to make his own hire at offensive coordinator—remember that Longo was brought in by Freeze a few months before his resignation. Here are five names you should know heading into the search.

Dan Werner, QB coach at South Carolina

Per Ben Garrett, Luke’s search starts with Werner.

There’s a good chance it will end there.

It was Freeze’s firing of Werner in 2015 that opened the door for Longo’s hiring. Werner and Luke split play calling duties for a couple years, which would make his return to Oxford rather seamless.

The biggest plus here is that Werner, who groomed Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly, is something of a quarterback whisperer. In his recent years in South Carolina, he’s developed Jake Bently into one of the SEC’s better passers. He’s best known for his role with Miami, where he coached 2001 Maxwell Award winner Ken Dorsey, 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta, and Heisman candidates Steve Walsh and Craig Erickson.

Of course, there was a reason Werner was fired from Ole Miss after the 2015 season. His offenses sputtered down the stretch of a 5-7 campaign, having particular issues with rushing efficiency and red zone scoring.

Still, Werner’s the favorite at this point. He knows Luke, knows the recruiting landscape and has documented success in the SEC.

Darrin Chiaverini, co-offensive coordinator at Colorado

After a brief stint in Lubbock as a special teams coordinator for Texas Tech, Chiaverini returned to his alma mater with Mike MacIntyre. In 2016, he helped lead the biggest turnaround in Pac-12 history, improving from 1-8 in conference play in 2015 to 8-1 and winning the division title. That turnaround was fueled largely by the offense, which set school records for yardage and first downs. His group has cooled off since, falling to 70th and 90th in offensive S&P+ in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

His acumen as a recruiter and Texas connections—he signed six blue-chippers, including an while at Texas Tech and Colorado—certainly doesn’t hurt things.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Will remain in Boulder on Mel Tucker’s staff)

Tee Martin, former offensive coordinator at Southern Cal

The former BCS champion quarterback at Tennessee was at USC for six years before being relieved of his duties this offseason. Aside from 2018’s disappointment, Martin put up some impressive numbers, ranking in the top 16 of offensive S&P+ each of the past two seasons. Last year, he helmed the Trojans to their highest per-game yardage total since the Leinart/Bush days.

But Martin’s real strength is ‘crootin. Sure, the network and resources help at Southern Cal, but dude still signed 21 top-100 prospects during his time there. In 2012, Marqise Lee won the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, and was a first team All-American. Marin also recruited and coached Juju Smith-Schuster and Nelson Agholor to first-team Pac-12 and All-American seasons in which they broke conference records.

I’m curious to what kind of relationship he has with Luke given their mutual ties to Tennessee. There wasn’t any overlap between the two of them in Knoxville but one would have to think they have at least spoken a few times. Tee is a Mobile, Ala. native and could potentially want to return to the South to get closer to his son, Clemson standout Amari Rodgers.

Billy Napier, head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette

I know he is a head coach and that will more than likely be a tough get for Luke, but this is one that has me really thinking.

Napier has extensive Power 5 experience, having held assistant jobs at Clemson, Alabama and Colorado State. He’s also a hell of a recruiter: his hauls include former five-star Cameron Robinson, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy and four-stars Tajh Boyd, Hootie Jones, Brandon Thompson, Cameron Sims, Trevon Diggs and Joshua McMillon.

He spent one year as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State before losing his job during the Herm Edwards regime change. He took the head coach gig at Louisiana-Lafayette last year and orchestrated an impressive turnaround: a 7-5 record and a berth in the Sun Belt Conference title game. The Cajuns ranked top five in the conference in scoring and rushing offense and top-40 in offensive S&P+.

This one is a bit of a stretch because of his gig as a head coach, but never underestimate former Power 5 coaches wanting to get back into a power conference.

Zac Roper, offensive coordinator at Duke

An Ole Miss grad, Roper has spent nearly all of his coaching career on staff with former Rebel coach David Cutcliffe at Duke. He was promoted to run the offense in 2018 and rewarded Cutcliffe by jumping 13 spots in S&P+ this season.

Roper’s offense also produced, for the first time in school history, not one, not two, but three players with 500-plus rushing yards each. The three were one of just two in the ACC to post 500-plus rushing yards and six-plus rushing scores each, the same as league champion and College Football Playoff semifinalist Clemson.

I know, I know, he’s a “good Reb”, but he has been a coordinator for several years at a Power 5 school and has done a lot with a limited recruiting network and challenging enrollment standards. If you take away the diploma and his mentor, he’s a pretty good candidate.

Who are the top 4 targets for early signing day?

Return of the Mac has come to fruition. Now can he work some magic?

After Pete Golding notified Ole Miss that he was staying at Alabama, the Rebels wasted no time hiring Mike MacIntyre. And almost as quickly as he was added to the staff, early signing day is almost upon us. On December 19th-21st, high school seniors will sign on the dotted line for the school of their choosing. The Rebels will add quite a few that are already committed, but what about the ones who are still undecided.

New defensive coordinator MacIntyre has his work cut out for him being that he will have just eight days to make an impression a select group before they sign with their school next Wednesday.

The former Colorado head coach has been around the block and knows a thing or two about recruiting. In fact, he’s been doing it since 1992. And now that he has arrived in Oxford and is beginning his stint as the Rebs’ DC, he will need to work on four particular targets who are in Matt Luke’s sights.

5-star Nakobe Dean - No. 14 overall, No. 1 ILB

We all know who he is. The state’s top prospect has been the Rebels’ No. 1 target from day one. Now that Ole Miss has a defensive coordinator to sell to, it is time for MacIntyre to do what he does best: sell.

The 6’0, 220-pounder is all done with official visits and will report to Montgomery, Ala. for the MS/AL All-Star Game later this week and will be gone through next week, meaning that Nick Saban, Ed Orgeron, Kirby Smart, and Matt Luke will all be doing their best to see him before he heads out.

MacIntyre is known for sealing the deal with former Rebel and 49ers Pro Bowler Patrick Willis so one would surmise that will come up in conversations when he goes in-home with the Horn Lake star. But, will it be enough to sway him over Saban and his trophy case? The Rebels are the only one close to Georgia in the Crystal Ball race, but can Mac pull a fast one and sign one of the most talented players ever to come out of the Magnolia State?

4-star Brandon Turnage - No. 99 overall, No. 12 CB

The other Alabama commit on this list is one of Oxford’s own. The Lafayette two-way player has been a Crimson Tide commit for some time, but like Dean, he visits the Ole Miss campus A LOT. He just recently returned from his official visit in Tuscaloosa where within 48 hours, Bama flipped two top 100 secondary players.

This would be an opportune time for MacIntyre to mention to Brandon how he mentored and coached Pro Bowler Roy Williams in Dallas and Darrelle Revis in New York. He could also mention how the Rebels are dying for help at the third level and he would be an instant impact guy the moment he got out of the car after making the quick drive down University Avenue.

The smoke around Turnage’s recruitment has been bellowing for some time, but the thickness of it has withered a bit over the last few weeks. If Ole Miss is going to flip the 6’1, 185-pound Under Armour All-American, Mac is going to need to convince him that he can get him where he wants to go: the NFL.

Luckily for Ole Miss, the new DC has been there done that.

4-star Derick Hall- No. 181 overall, No. 12 WDE

The Gulfport native just visited Oxford officially after cancelling his Mississippi State official. An Under Armour All-American in his own right, Hall has kept things relatively close to the vest throughout his recruitment. The jumbo athlete is listed as a weak-side defensive end, but could be a menacing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

MacIntyre could certainly speak to that when he gets in touch with the 6’4, 216-pounder. The Rebels struggled to generate any semblance of a pass rush in 2018 and long and fast athletes like Derick are just what you need for an attacking 3-4 defense in the SEC.

Despite take his official visit way back in September, Auburn is still in the lead for his services per his crystal ball. Can Matt Luke’s Gulf Coast ties pay off for a signing day shocker? Will MacIntyre be able to sell him on being a Rebel and coming off the edge for his defense?

4-star Raydarious Jones - No. 361 overall, No. 19 ATH

Nakobe’s teammate has seen his stock rise tremendously during his senior season, jumping from a three-star to a four-star and cracking the top 20 in the athlete category. After going head-to-head with Georgia commit and fellow athlete John Rhys Plumlee in the 6A title game, Jones has now turned his attention to his recruitment.

He has already officially visited Oxford at the beginning of the month and just wrapped up an official to LSU this past weekend. His crystal ball has held strong at 100% for Ole Miss for months now, but the Tigers are lurking in the shadows, trying to steal the in-state product away. As mentioned above with Turnage, MacIntyre could speak to playing in the NFL and coaching some of the game’s best with Jones.

“Raydar” played quarterback for Horn Lake, but it appears his future is on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary. So who better to coach you up to prepare you for the next level than a guy who coached defensive backs for four years at the highest level, right?

Oh and it doesn’t hurt that he and Dean are high school teammates and close. Maybe a two-for-1 for Coach Mac to get his tenure started in the right direction bringing instant impact guys to his defense, right?

Not a bad idea.

Podcast: Ole Miss got a DC, Kermit Davis basketball is fun

We’ve got a lot to unpack.

Ole Miss got a defensive coordinator! So we talk about Mike MacIntyre’s tenure at Colorado and why a lot is being made about his win-loss record when that is irrelevant. We also discuss Nakobe Dean’s recruitment and how big of an impact he could have on this 2019 class.

Then, we discuss Kermit Davis and his 6-2 hoops team and how they’re brand of basketball is completely different from Andy Kennedy’s brand.


Before you watch BOWL MANIA, go see Greg and the good folks at LB’s Meat Market, the inaugural sponsor of this here podcast, to celebrate with the best protein for your Ole Miss grilling needs this weekend. And be sure to tell him RED CUP SENT YA for exclusive deals and promotions!

If you like gambling and good food, go see our good friend Kelly English at the Magnolia House in Biloxi’s Harrah’s Gulf Coast. Blackjack, slots, Southern cooking—what’s not to like?

When you’re looking to stock the cooler for the bowl games, ask for Old Dominick at your local package store and be sure to cop their brand spankin’ new high rye bourbon, Huling Station. They’re located in downtown Memphis, trace their roots back to Italy, and take pride in providing you a true sip of Memphis.

The BasketSharks head to Jackson!

When the hoops are back.

Hinds County rise up.

OK.

Alright.

Things are starting to get kind of serious now.

Ole Miss basketball wrapped up a finals week and got its first true road win of the Kermit Davis era: a 81-74 W over Illinois State, who is a top 150 KenPom rated team.

The lack of a mid-week game last week came mostly because of final exams for the fall semester. From here on out, there will be less breaks in the glorious sport of basketball for Ole Miss fans.

Revenge dished in Normal, Ill.

Breein Tyree and Terence Davis combined for 42 points to lead the Rebels in a game they really controlled for the majority of the 40 minutes. The 81-74 win at Illinois State wiped away the bad memory of an overtime loss to the Redbirds last season in Oxford.

So Breein’s final stat line of 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists — a fantastic night for a player who last year would show flashes like this, but this was in my opinion one of his best games to date.

Coach Davis lamented a slow start as the Rebels were down 8-4 early, but they methodically built a lead in the first half that would never be truly challenged. The Rebels shot 56 percent from three point range with some great ball movement to have a five-point advantage at the half.

The scrappy Devontae Shuler, who I had hoped preseason would be an emerging leader on this team, had eight points and five rebounds but most importantly led the team with four steals. He didn’t have the most efficient 31 minutes of play, but his defensive abilities continue to show why he is on the court.

Ole Miss had a +8 rebounding advantage in the game with Tyree, Dominik Olejniczak and KJ Buffen all chipping in with seven boards. The Rebels now sit at 6-2 on the season with four non-conference games left until Southeastern Conference play.

LOOK OUT JAAAACKSON TOWN.

If you visit message boards in the history of ever, you have noticed a trend from time to time regarding sporting events in Jackson — they are few and far between, and Ole Miss alums who live there are sad about it.

So typically they’ll ask why they don’t get more games in Jackson, they complain about the drive to Oxford, et cetera, et cetera.

Well, boy oh boy, is this the week for you, folks: real, live, American college basketball in JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI. Who cares if they’re playing directional Louisiana college? You can hop in your Tahoe, drive 15 minutes, shove $25 worth of concessions down your face and enjoy a win. Merry Christmas, you guys.

Something REALLY Nice *winking face emoji*

The movie Christmas Vacation is way better than A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, and pretty much any other Christmas movie you can come up with. Finally, it’s getting its due.

The first 1,000 fans at Sunday’s game against Tennessee-Chattanooga will get an Ole Miss branded Christmas Vacation ornament. Dress up like Cousin Eddie, bring a moose mug, really go all out for this one.

Chattanooga is a 300-level KenPom team, so this one should be a fun one that the Rebels can really get every player into the game for experience sake.

So, yeah, the promotion is the most important part of this game. It shouldn’t be a competitive game, and with a 5 p.m. CT tip time on a Sunday after students have essentially left town, this is going to be a family friendly atmosphere most likely unless you load up on eggnog pre-game.

Ole Miss women’s basketball is rebuilding

Coach Yo is bringing along promising young players.

When Matt Insell was fired last season after a really bad year, Ole Miss found Yolett McPhee-McCuin or “Coach Yo” at Jacksonville University and hired her. A prolific mass exodus followed, with nine players leaving despite no seniors on the team.

Yeah. That’s pretty rough. Coach Yo scrambled to fill the roster, signing four high schoolers, two junior college players, and three transfers from four-year colleges.

The Rebels have been bad this season. They’re 3-6 with a No. 200 RPI ranking. Real Time RPI predicts they’ll finish the year with a 12-18 record. With an injury to freshman point guard Mimi Reid (who I’ll talk more about in a minute), the team is starting three seniors and two juniors. There isn’t a single sophomore on the roster right now.

To say the roster construction is rough would be an understatement. It’s almost as if Coach Yo has had to start all over again and throw out this season.

But there’s hope in her recruiting.

Last year’s class was a stopgap, but her first real class just signed, and it is quite good. Yo signed two high schoolers (both top 50 players nationally on ESPN) and two junior college players, who both play for winning programs and are well regarded.

The bigs, JUCO Dominique Banks (6’5) and high schooler Tai-Yanna Jackson, would each be the tallest player on the team right now by three inches. Banks started for the team that lost last year’s national championship, and Jackson is the No. 11 post player overall in the class.

JUCO PG Valerie Nesbitt is small, but Yo called her explosive in signing day quotes. High school senior Sarah Dumitrescu comes from IMG Academy, and is a 6’0 guard ranked as the No. 49 player in the country by Prospect Nation. She is originally from Romania and has played on Romanian national teams at every level.

Yo doesn’t have commitments for next season yet, but she has shown the ability to sign highly regarded players already, and that will likely continue.

And the freshmen aren’t bad, either.

I mentioned Mimi Reid above; Reid is actually a redshirt freshman who had to sit out last season with an injury. She has started all seven games in which she’s played this season at point guard, and she’s doing pretty well there too, with a team-leading 31 assists (next highest is 16). Reid was also a top 50 player out of high school and the No. 11 point guard in her class.

Then there’s Gabby Crawford, a 6’2 forward who is playing 20 minutes or so a game after being a late qualifier. Crawford was the No. 80 player in her class nationally and one of the first jewels in Coach Yo’s cap. She’s likely to step in as a starter next season.

Iyanla Kitchens was ranked just ahead of Crawford at No. 76 and is also a 6’2 forward. She has played sparingly this season, but remember— she’s a freshman.

Past those three, there’s uncertainty, but whenever I’m evaluating things I always like to look for the foundations a new coach can build upon. Yo has some good long-term pieces in place.

Sure, this season is going to be a dumpster fire, but this is not what she should be evaluated on. She’s taking great steps to make this program better.

Mike MacIntyre to be next DC in Oxford

The former Pac-12 coach who has resurrected defenses at multiple stops has his next challenge.

Ole Miss wasted little time getting rid of Wesley McGriff after a disgustingly bad 2018 season where the Rebels finished 109th in S&P+ defense. But, they certainly took their time finding his replacement in the weeks following the 35-3 loss to Mississippi State.

Head coach Matt Luke and director of intercollegiate athletics Ross Bjork finally got their man after a long and winding search when former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre accepted an offer from them to become the Rebels’ defensive coordinator, per Chase Parham of Rebel Grove.

At one point, it appeared that Alabama co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Pete Golding might be interested in the gig, but he eventually decided to stay in Tuscaloosa as a part of Nick Saban’s mortal engine.

The former 2009 AFCA Coach of the Year and 2016 Pac-12 Conference/Walter Camp/Home Depot/AP Coach of the Year was relieved of his duties after a tough 2018 season in Boulder where the Buffaloes went 5-6 and finished 6th in the Pac-12 South. But, the resume and pedigree is there in spades for the Miami, Fla. native who has coached under the likes of Ray Goff at Georgia, David Cutcliffe at Ole Miss and Duke, and Bill Parcells in the NFL for the Cowboys and the Jets.

As a head coach, he had successful campaigns at San Jose State and Colorado but ultimately struggled to consistently win at Colorado. He was able to turn the Spartans from a 1-12 team to an 11-2 in just three seasons. He did win a Pac-12 South division title at CU, going 10-4 (8-1) and earning a berth in the Alamo Bowl. Still, the other five seasons he went just 20-40 and 6-38 in conference.

Alas, MacIntyre is coming to Oxford to fix the defense, not be a head coach. And he has shown that he is very good at doing that. Especially in spots where it is glaringly awful. Let’s take a look at that and two other reasons why this is a surprisingly good hire.

He has experience building things up from nothing.

His first big-time defensive coordinator gig was at a basketball school in Durham, N.C. for a former Ole Miss head coach. The year before he arrived the Blue Devils were 84th in defense S&P+.

Insert MacIntyre and they made a 37-point jump and finished 47th overall in defense S&P+. His two years in Bull City saw him field the two best defenses statistically EVER in Duke history, earning him the AFCA award for assistant of the year in 2009. And he did it with very few, if any, blue chips at a higher education institution that demands a lot from its students.

We already talked a little bit about his stint with the Spartans in NorCal but you have to see the numbers to truly appreciate what he did with that defense there in such short time.

You might remember this from our hot board that was released earlier this month, but his defense went from 104th in S&P+ to 33rd(!) in just two years, per Bill C’s advanced analytics. When he arrived in Boulder, a place that had won just four games combined the two years before he arrived, the program saw immense improvement across the board.

MacIntyre became just the second head coach since 1932 at Colorado to win his first game, joining Rick Neuheisel in 1995, as the only to do it in the 81-year span.

In 2015, his Buffs defense jumped 50 spots nationally in many major defensive areas despite the team finishing just 4-9. The largest improvement came in scoring defense, shaving off 11.5 points per game from the previous year, good enough for the 5th best improvement in Power 5.

Ole Miss would certainly like to see this kind of improvement upon his arrival after finishing dead last or close to it in almost all SEC defensive categories.

His recruiting chops go coast-to-coast.

Granted he didn’t set the world on fire in the recruiting rankings at Colorado, but that has more to do with geography and it being one of the tougher jobs in the country. Nevertheless, his first signing class saw him sign 13 players from California, three players from Texas, one from Washington, and three from in-state Colorado.

This began a trend of sorts for MacIntyre, as he continued to hit the trail hard in California.

His second class saw the Buffs sign 13 again from California, his 2015 class finished 69th (nice) and signed another seven from the Golden State, 2016 they signed five from California but also a combined six from the Southeast, and finished off 2017 with the 35th overall class and 11 from California and eight from Texas.

Now, I’m not saying Mac is gonna have dudes jet-setting from Cali all of a sudden, but he has shown the ability to recruit from hot beds like California, Texas, and the Southeast despite limitations.

Oh, did I mention he recruited Patrick Willis to Ole Miss? That may not be a bad thing to mention to five-star Nakobe Dean if you ask me.

He has NFL connections with a Hall of Famer.

After helping the Ole Miss defense finish 5th in total defense in 2001, MacIntyre took a gig in the NFL on Bill Parcells’ staff in Dallas. Mac coached defensive backs for Big Tuna in Dallas and in New York when he coached the Jets.

In Dallas, he mentored five-time Pro Bowler Roy Willams and helped the Cowboys make a return to the playoffs. In his three seasons with Parcells and the Cowboys, his unit snagged 59(!) interceptions.

He left Parcells and went to New York where his Jets’ unit included Darrelle Revis (17 PD, 3 INT) and Kerry Rhodes (10 PD, 5 INT).

It’s only fitting to bring up NFL ties on the heels of talking about recruiting. It’s obviously the main goal for elite talent these days and Mike will be able to go into living rooms and talk about his experiences during his four years in the league.


It won’t be an instantaneous fix mind you, but Mike MacIntyre is a former Power 5 head coach with 26 years of experience that will now be on the sideline next to Matt Luke, in meeting rooms, and on the recruiting trail. That is the biggest key here. The Rebels now have two former head coaches on staff (Jack Bicknell) that will hopefully continue to help Luke progress as a program CEO.

He may not be the big, flashy young gun that everyone wanted, but if he is a consolation prize then it was a good one.

2019 just got interesting.

Rebs flip in-state RB from Memphis

The Rebs flip the Mississippi 5A Player of the Year.

Ole Miss flipped wide receiver Dannis Jackson from Mississippi State earlier this year and are certainly hoping for more flips down the stretch with some of their top targets. Well, maybe this is the start of the FLIP-FLIP-FLIPADELPHIA party now that Hattiesburg star Jarod Conner has changed his verbal commitment from Memphis to Ole Miss.

The No. 63 running back in the country committed to Mike Norvell and the Tigers back in August, but after the Rebels began their search for a running back to join Jerrion Ealy in the 2019 class, Conner became a primary target. As we have stated multiple times, despite Ealy’s presence in the class, he will most likely never make it to campus due to MLB money.

And with Eric Gray now most likely ending up in Tennessee, the Rebs made their move and Conner jumped at the opportunity. The Hattiesburg High star had a banner career for the Tigers, rushing for 1,622 yards and 27 touchdowns and passing for 2,324 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning him Mississippi’s 5A Player of the Year award.

Conner chose the Rebels over other offers from Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama, Southern Miss, and Tulane. Granted the offer sheet is star-studded, but Jacob Peeler has been a great evaluator during his young career in Oxford, so if JP says he’s good enough to be a Reb, I’ll take his word for it.

The newest Rebel commit officially visited last weekend and one could hope that he will be able to sway his four-star teammate, Jaren Handy, who is currently committed to Auburn. The strong-side defensive end was another key cog for Hattiesburg, making 29 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and five sacks.

Conner was a large part of the Tigers’ dominating 2018 season, going 13-0 before getting upset by West Jones in the 5A playoffs.

Conner talked with David Johnson from the Ole Miss Spirit about his commitment and why he took a bit to look around despite his commitment to Memphis.

“They told me Tuesday, but they have been recruiting me since my eleventh-grade year. (Running backs) Coach (Derrick) Nix has always kept up with me, so I knew it was going to come soon,” said Conner.

His primary recruiter at Memphis was Mississippi native Will Hall, who was just hired by Tulane. Conner told Johnson that he felt the need to recalibrate after he left Norvell’s staff.

“Me and Coach Hall, we had a good relationship. We talked on a daily basis. I believe when he left that made me take a step back, because I had already been hearing rumors about coaches leaving. When he left, I didn’t hear from him any more,” said Conner.

The Rebs submitted an offer to Conner later in the process and the state’s No. 30 player knew “it was time to stay home...represent my hometown.”

Johnson asked Conner about early signing day and he revealed that he will in fact sign early and enroll in time for January intercession.

How does he fit in?

The 5’11, 210-pounder impressed at the Rivals Camp in Mobile earlier this year, putting his impressive skill set on display. Despite his sturdy, compact frame, he displays quickness in small spaces, athleticism whether in the pocket as a quarterback or on the edge as a running back, and plenty burst. The MS/AL All-Star Game selection may not have the home run speed that most people covet, but the guy produces in bunches.

In three years at Hattiesburg, the back known as “Snoop” rushed for 3,465 yards in 37 career games, averaging 7.7 yards a carry, and scoring 63 touchdowns. As mentioned above, he played some quarterback as well and was a pretty damn good signal caller for HHS. All he did in 28 games as a quarterback was throw for 4,879 yards, 49 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 104.6

Not bad for a makeshift QB.

Maybe it’s because he’s a running back-turned-quarterback, but he does have a little Cam Akers in him. He looks comfortable receiving a snap and shows exceptional vision and can set up blocks and cuts in the open field. He runs with good pad level and has no issue lowering the boom on a defender. Get him in a college strength and conditioning program and see what he can do once he arrives on campus.

Ignore the ranking, he has some sneaky speed and is a load to bring down. Not to mention, success on the coast is hard to come by for the Red and Blue.

Highlights

Oh, Hugh Freeze is now the head coach at Liberty University

Not long ago Freeze seemed to be facing a show-cause. Now he’s back in college football.

A year to the week after the NCAA bulldozed the Ole Miss program with a two-year bowl ban and hefty recruiting limitations, the man once thought to be at the center of the wreckage is once again a head college football coach.

As confirmed by SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey, Hugh Freeze has been hired by Liberty University, a private Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia. Of note: the man who hired him, Ian McCaw, was the Baylor athletic director who resigned during that school’s ugly scandals.

Liberty clearly isn’t afraid of the baggage Freeze carries into Lynchburg. After seemingly surviving the multiyear NCAA investigation that ended with allegations that the program lacked institutional control, Freeze was undone when a lawsuit by Houston Nutt, of all people, revealed that Freeze contacted escort services on his school phone. He resigned from Ole Miss in July of 2017.

I guess it makes sense that Freeze, whose press conferences and pregame speeches were often more fit for a Baptist preacher than a football coach at a public university, begins his comeback tour at a religious institution. His first public appearance in the wake of the prostitution scandal? A convocation session on Liberty’s campus last January.

Here’s your reminder that while the NCAA did its best to bury Ole Miss, it let Freeze off with a surprisingly light sentence: a two-game ban and only if he was a head coach in 2018. He won’t have to sit out any games next season for Liberty.

Freeze had plenty of options this offseason. He’d been heavily rumored to be Tennessee’s top choice as offensive coordinator, sat down with Florida State head coach Willie Taggert earlier this week and had been connected to jobs at Alabama and Auburn.

It seems he wants to be a head coach again. Sixteen months after that looked like an impossibility, he’s getting the opportunity.

Welcome to the Ole Miss basketball Opponent Tracker

We need to see this happen in Oxford ASAP

Who’s beating who? Who’s being true? Who don’t even care anymore?

In this weekly feature, we’ll look at the previous opponents of the Ole Miss Rebels basketball team for the 2018-2019 season to see how they are trending in an effort to track the quality of wins the Rebels are compiling.

Sometimes a win is a great win in the moment, but it eventually turns into a win you should’ve won.

And sometimes a win seems like no big deal at the time, and it over time becomes a nugget of gold in your schedule.

Such is the life of college basketball scheduling and how teams plan to build resumes for March Madness.

Ole Miss currently sits at 5-2 on the season, and the wins and losses all matter right now in a way that could vastly change by the time a tournament committee sits down to decide their collective fate for the Big Dance.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Absolutely. Ole Miss sits at No. 66 in the vaunted KenPom rankings, which would put them on the bubble already.

But we wouldn’t be doing ourselves justice as Ole Miss very good Rebels if we didn’t throw as much coal into the hype train as we possibly could.

First, we’ll take a look at the losses, which consist of one true road and one neutral site loss each.

Cincinnati Bearcats (8-1); KenPom: 33

Notable win: 71-57 vs Ole Miss (KP: 67)

Worst loss: 64-56 vs Ohio State (KP: 20)

Upcoming games: Xavier, No. 25 Mississippi State, UCLA

Butler Bulldogs (6-2); KenPom: 28

Notable win: 61-54 vs Florida (KP: 21)

Worst loss: 69-64 vs Dayton (KP: 84)

Upcoming games: Northern Illinois, Indiana

With both of the losses, neither of these teams should cause resume problems for Ole Miss down the stretch if they continue to avoid any schedule bombs. Butler has already faltered against Dayton and Saint Louis, but they’ll be buoyed later in the year by a strong Big East schedule.

Now, for the five wins Ole Miss has tallied so far, believe it or not, there may be some hay in the proverbial barn already.

San Diego Toreros (7-2); KenPom: 87

Notable win: 70-64 vs Colorado (KP: 58)

Worst loss: 93-86 vs Ole Miss (KP: 67)

Upcoming games: San Diego St., No. 18 Oregon

Baylor Bears (5-3); KP: 64

Notable win: 63-57 vs South Dakota (KP: 158)

Worst loss: 72-69 vs Texas Southern (KP: 228)

Upcoming games: Arizona, No. 18 Oregon

Western Michigan Broncos (4-4); KP: 233

Notable win: 85-77 vs Oakland (KP: 251)

Worst loss: 71-66 vs USC Upstate (KP: 324)

Upcoming games: No. 7 Michigan, Dayton

Nicholls St. Colonels (5-4); KP: 271

Notable win: 62-61 vs Western Michigan (KP: 233)

Worst loss: 89-72 vs Washington St. (KP: 163)

Upcoming games: Boston University, Louisiana Monroe

Louisiana Monroe (3-4); KP: 216

Notable win: 80-52 vs Northwestern St (KP: 348)

Worst loss: 79-73 vs Tennessee Tech (KP: 332)

Upcoming games: Grambling, Stephen F Austin

I wouldn’t even say some of these are notable wins, but it’s really just the best some of these teams have got right now, sheesh.

What we can glean from the wins so far is that we really, REALLY need Baylor and San Diego to help us out. Right now, Baylor looks to be in the bottom half of the Big XII for sure, and San Diego plays in the difficult West Coast Conference with the likes of Gonzaga.


Every team has their cupcakes in the non-conference, so of course in perspective Ole Miss has done what it needed to do against those teams. The Rebels next game comes on the road against Illinois St. (KP: 151) in what will be a revenge game from last season when the Redbirds beat the Rebels in Oxford in overtime.

Podcast Rebellion: Which defensive coordinator hire would excite you the most?

Do you want the souped-up sports car or the fuel-efficient sedan?

Ole Miss still doesn’t have a defensive coordinator and they are seemingly waiting on Pete Golding’s answer after extending an offer to him earlier this week. And they are supposedly bringing in former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre this weekend for an interview/offer if Golding declines said offer to stay at Alabama?

So which one would you prefer?


Before you watch Championship Week, go see Greg and the good folks at LB’s Meat Market, the inaugural sponsor of this here podcast, to celebrate with the best protein for your Ole Miss grilling needs this weekend. And be sure to tell him RED CUP SENT YA for exclusive deals and promotions!

If you like gambling and good food, go see our good friend Kelly English at the Magnolia House in Biloxi’s Harrah’s Gulf Coast. Blackjack, slots, Southern cooking—what’s not to like?

When you’re looking to stock the cooler for this week’s games, ask for Old Dominick at your local package store and be sure to cop their brand spankin’ new high rye bourbon, Huling Station. They’re located in downtown Memphis, trace their roots back to Italy, and take pride in providing you a true sip of Memphis.

#TheNetwork Files: Can Rebs hold off Vols for 4-star RB?

Will Matt Luke and Co. be able to make up some ground on the record-setting running back?

Last weekend was a big one for this staff. Five-star Nakobe Dean was in town, as well as four-stars Raydarious Jones and Charles Cross. But, this weekend is next man up for head coach Matt Luke and his staff as they will entertain yet another group of talented recruits in Oxford.

Leading the way on the docket this weekend is newly-uncommitted four-star Memphis running back Eric Gray. The No. 4 APB recently decommitted from Michigan and is seemingly down to the home state Tennessee Vols and the Rebels.

The Lausanne Collegiate School all-purpose back finished his high school career as the first Tennessee player to win the Mr. Football award three-straight years and he virtually owns every rushing record in the state after finishing his career for the Lynx with an overall record of 46-5 and two state titles. He wrapped up his career (only three full seasons mind you) with 8,187 yards (190.4 yards per game) and 138 rushing touchdowns.

The Vols made a big push for the 5’10, 193-pounder last weekend when he was in town for a visit, taking charge of his 247Sports Crystal Ball. But, the Rebels get him in town for a 48-hour official visit and have their opportunity to sway him back in their good graces.

This recruitment is especially important because, not only will four-star running back commit Jerrion Ealy almost certainly be bypassing college to play professional baseball, but they need an impact back to come in and immediately contribute with the health concerns of returnees D’Vaughn Pennamon and Eric Swinney.

Secondly, the Rebels need something positive to happen in the city of Memphis. Luke and his staff desperately need to sign someone from the 901 and for it to not only be a hub for elite talent (85 miles away) but for their presence to be a positive one. If the Rebs are able to get Gray and MUS two-sport star Maurice Hampton in the boat, it could go a long way in 2020 when the Rebs will be heavily-involved with several top prospects in the Bluff City.

With that said, the U.S. All-American is in town this weekend and it is time for the Rebels to shoot their shot and tell Eric that he is their No. 1 guy and is wanted in the worst way.

Who else is visiting?

  • 3-star S Fred Peters, No. 17 JUCO overall
  • 3-star S Jonathan Haynes, No. 36 JUCO overall (commit)
  • 3-star WR Dontario Drummond, No. 41 JUCO overall
  • 3-star CB Jamar Richardson, No. 78 JUCO overall (commit)
  • 4-star OLB Derick Hall, No. 216 overall
  • 3-star RB Keshawn King, No. 519 overall
  • 3-star DT Patrick Lucas, No. 585 overall (commit)
  • 3-star OT Nick Broeker, No. 701 overall (commit)
  • 3-star OLB Ashanti Cistrunk, No. 722 overall (commit)
  • 3-star S Tavario Standifer, NR (commit)
  • 3-star OT Caleb Warren, NR (commit)

The biggest visitor this weekend outside of Gray has to be the four-star linebacker out of Gulfport. Hall has been quite the mystery this season, flirting with Ole Miss early on in his recruitment before receiving offers from Auburn, Florida State, Florida, LSU, Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Tennessee among others.

He recently received an in-home visit from receivers coach Jacob Peeler right before he officially visited Gainesville to see the Gators and Dan Mullen. Outside of Florida, he has only officially visited Auburn and Florida State, leaving him open for one more before signing early on December 19th.

Could the Rebels be his last trip? Lord knows they will pitch him the idea of “hey we REALLY need linebackers to help fix the defense and you’re 6’4, 216-pounds so you would be PERFECT”. Despite being ranked as the No. 13 weak-side defensive end in the country, the Under Armour All-American is the perfect 3-4 defense outside linebacker and would most likely immediately contribute once he got to Oxford.

Can Matt Luke work some magic late in his hometown? We’ll find out in two weeks.

HOOPS LOOKING FOR NORMAL REVENGE

Road test marks only scheduled game this week.

It’s finals week.

So you may be a student reading this, and I would usually absolutely recommend spending your time on RCR as often as possible. However, please not this week - study, don’t drink too much and make good grades.

There’s a massive Christmas break coming up where you can debauch, gain 15 lbs., and maybe meet up with people you went to high school with who never left town.

But basketball has a light week because of finals with only one game against Illinois St. in Normal, Ill. on Saturday. The Redbirds defeated Ole Miss last season in Oxford in an overtime thriller that marked the beginning of a disappointing season.

Ole Miss will go into this tilt with a 5-2 record after a 2-0 finish last week.

The win over San Diego is apparently a BIG deal!

Five Rebels scored in the double digits led by Breein Tyree with 22 points to topple San Diego 93-86.

Most exciting out of this game is freshmen KJ Buffen and Blake Hinson combining for 30 points, 15 each in the win. Buffen and Hinson have come along quicker than the Cup expected and have already proven pretty competent, regular contributors.

The Toreros look to be a pretty solid squad led by three seniors who scored more than 60 of the team’s points. Ole Miss was in control most of this game, but USD really wouldn’t go quietly as they generated 21 points off 14 Rebel turnovers.

USD plays in the competitive mid-major West Coast Conference where only one sub-.500 team resides along with #1 Gonzaga. If they can stay competitive, this win could pay off for the Rebels.

A dunk contest broke out against ULM.

Tyree went off again for 20 points in a 83-60 win over the hapless Warhawks in the debut of our very good powder blue uni’s. Two of the 20 came in the form of a fast break reverse dunk that got the crowd of 6,100 to its feet - ok, maybe like half of them to their feet.

Terence Davis added 15 points including one breakaway dunk that he cocked to the side before thundering down. Davis also had a 360 dunk go awry in the second half, but he collected the rebound, missed a lay-up, fought off two Warhawks for another rebound and got the second lay-up to go in.

Truly, ULM might be the worst team we’ve played thus far.

Rebs out for Redbird Revenge on Saturday.

Ole Miss will hit the road for Saturday’s game against Illinois State (6-3) in the second part of a home and home that was schedule via Twitter.

The Rebels lost to ISU last season 101-97 in overtime in a game that the Redbirds really controlled for the most part. Bruce Stevens was the leading scorer last year with 27 points, and he is still on Ole Miss’ roster, which is actually good!

The Redbirds finished 18-15 last season, but they seem to have rebounded this year starting out 6-3 so far on the season. Losses to Georgia on a neutral site, at Belmont and San Diego St. at home most recently paints this team as absolutely beatable if the Rebels play well.

After Saturday’s game, the Rebels play three of its next four games in the state of Mississippi before entering Southeastern Conference play.

Everybody wants to hire Hugh Freeze apparently

The internet has exploded with Freeze rumors. We’re here to make sense of them all.

To be frank, we’re just now groggily reanimating from our Thanksgiving dinner hangovers here at Red Cup Rebellion. There was lots of dressing, lots of bourbon and apparently a football game that devolved into near-fisticuffs. Dunno.

If you yourself have taken a while to get tuned back into the college football news cycle, you may have missed the rapidly expanding Hugh Freeze rumors that have been flying around the internet. Hell, even if you’ve been glued to Twitter, it’s probably been tough to keep up with all of them. Over the past 24 hours, the former Ole Miss head coach has been linked to at least five schools, most notably Tennessee and Florida State.

Most of this speculation links Freeze, who hasn’t been on the sidelines since Ole Miss fired him in July of 2017, to offensive coordinator positions, though he’s been tied to at least one head coaching gig.

To help you wade through it all, we’ve set up a tracker, which we’ll update as rumors develop.

Mind you, Freeze is scheduled to be the offensive coordinator in The Alliance of American Football when the new developmental league opens its inaugural season in February. With all the rumors flying, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll be back in college ball instead.

Tennessee

In the week since Vols offensive coordinator Tyson Helton accepted the head coach job at Western Kentucky, nobody has been mentioned more as a possible replacement than Freeze. ESPN’s Chris Lowe reported Monday that Freeze is “in the thick” of UT’s search. Tennessee’s Rivals site claims that Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt met with Freeze last week during a recruiting trip to Memphis.

Yet Freeze remains unsigned. Some rumors suggest that UT could be deliberately slow-playing Freeze as the administration wrangles with his past. Others suggest Freeze is waiting to see what other jobs open up across the college football landscape.

“Tennessee has competition, and in talking with people in the last 24 to 48 hours, it’s pretty obvious that Hugh Freeze really likes Tennessee a lot,” Volquest’s Austin Price said on Monday afternoon. “Out of Florida State, Auburn, and Tennessee, I think Tennessee is at the top of his wish list. But for whatever reason, it’s not a done deal yet.”

Which brings us the rest of the rumors.

Florida State

The Noles snapped their national-best 36-year bowl streak thanks largely to an impotent offense rated 108th by S&P+, so it makes sense that Willie Taggert is on the hunt for an innovative coordinator to turn things around. Per Football Scoop, Taggert spent “considerable time” speaking with Freeze on Monday.

“It’s unclear if the FSU administration would sign off on his hire, but we’re hearing from sources that Freeze is a serious candidate for this job,” 247’s Florida State site reported. “If FSU chooses to go in the Hugh Freeze direction, we believe a deal could get done quickly.”

Auburn

Gus Malzahn’s job depends on his ability to revitalize his offense after a disappointing 2018. AL.com reported Monday that Auburn is expected to part ways with coordinator Chip Lindsey, opening the door for Freeze to land on the Plains.

There haven’t been reports of formal contact between the two sides, but you’d have to assume that Freeze and Malzahn, who both came up coaching high school ball in the Mid-South and are close friends, have been in touch.

Alabama

With Mike Locksley the frontrunner to land the head job at Maryland, it appears as though Nick Saban will once again be in the market for an OC. When the job opened up last offseason, only an intervention from SEC commish Greg Sankey kept Freeze from landing in Tuscaloosa.

From AL.com:

It was only a few days after Saban’s mid-January meeting with Freeze that he learned he couldn’t make the hire. Sankey informed both Freeze and Alabama that it would look bad for the SEC for Freeze to be back coaching in the league while Ole Miss suffered from NCAA penalties incurred under his watch. The SEC preferred that Freeze, who resigned in July following a “pattern of personal misconduct,” go off the radar for at least a little while before trying to return to work at one of its schools.

With all the buzz surrounding Freeze, it doesn’t sound like Sankey is stepping back in this season. Volquest’s Austin Price expects Bama to speak with Freeze and “go down that road.”

Liberty

If Freeze prefers a head coach position to a coordinator, it sounds like he’ll have a chance at Liberty. In the wake of Turner Gill’s retirement, Football Scoop reports that Freeze is a strong candidate and that the private school has already “advanced discussions.” Freeze, who’s never been shy about his Christian faith, reportedly has strong connections with the administration of the evangelical school—when he made his first public appearance in the wake of Ole Miss departure, it came at a convocation session at Liberty.

It could be that these rash of rumors are a ploy by Freeze’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, to force Tennessee’s hand. Either way, it sounds like Freeze has plenty of options for where to begin his comeback.

Podcast Rebellion: Could Ole Miss actually get Pete Golding?

Will Matt Luke’s Alabama safari end well?

The jig is up. There’s no hiding it now. Ole Miss’ top target for the vacant defensive coordinator position is Alabama’s co-defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Pete Golding. The Louisiana native and former Delta State, Southern Miss, UTSA coach is in year one in the Alabama Machine but the Rebels apparently have his attention now.

On this episode, we talk about the risk versus the reward, what the pluses and minuses are if he were to take the job, and why he would stay in Tuscaloosa on Nick Saban’s staff.

THE GOLDING HOUR IS HERE, Y’ALL!!!!


Before you watch Championship Week, go see Greg and the good folks at LB’s Meat Market, the inaugural sponsor of this here podcast, to celebrate with the best protein for your Ole Miss grilling needs this weekend. And be sure to tell him RED CUP SENT YA for exclusive deals and promotions!

If you like gambling and good food, go see our good friend Kelly English at the Magnolia House in Biloxi’s Harrah’s Gulf Coast. Blackjack, slots, Southern cooking—what’s not to like?

When you’re looking to stock the cooler for this week’s games, ask for Old Dominick at your local package store and be sure to cop their brand spankin’ new high rye bourbon, Huling Station. They’re located in downtown Memphis, trace their roots back to Italy, and take pride in providing you a true sip of Memphis.

#TheNetwork Files: 5-star Nakobe Dean talked with Matt Luke about DC search

The state’s No. 1 player spent the weekend in Oxford.

Everyone knows about Nakobe Dean by now.

Five-star linebacker. Mississippi’s 6A Mr. Football. Under Armour All-American. 4.3 GPA student. And Ole Miss’ top target.

The Horn Lake product just recently wrapped up a 15-0 senior year and 6A state championship over Oak Grove. But, instead of celebrating upon returning home from Hattiesburg, the 6’0, 220-pounder traveled South to Oxford for a weekend visit.

Rebel Grove’s Russell Johnson caught up with Nakobe Dean before he left campus and the nation’s top inside linebacker had quite a bit to say.

For starters, when he arrived in Oxford (with four-star teammate Raydarious Jones), the ENTIRE Ole Miss staff was waiting on them and their families.

“That was surprising, man,” Dean said about seeing the entire coaching staff waiting for him when he got to Oxford. “That was crazy, actually for them to be up there at 4:50 after entertaining recruits all night.”

Dean told Johnson that even though he’s been on campus plenty of times already (15 times this year if you’re keeping score at home), this time he wanted to interact more with the players.

“For me, this time I wanted to hang out with the boys. All throughout my recruitment, coaches have been the ones answering recruiting questions. The players are the ones going through this, and they answered my questions.”

But, he did meet with head coach Matt Luke to talk shop before the weekend was over. And naturally the vacant defensive coordinator topic came up. And Nakobe wasn’t bashful about asking about other things in regards to Ole Miss.

“He cleared a lot of stuff up. I expressed some concerns I had about some things, but he cleared them up.”

And speaking of the DC position, we mentioned Alabama co-defensive coordinator Pete Golding on our hot board last week, and Saban’s assistant was on Dean’s mind as well during his meeting with Luke.

The No. 15 overall player in the country knows Golding is Luke’s top candidate to coach him at Ole Miss and the two spoke about it.

“Yes it has,” Dean said when asked about Golding’s potential candidacy at Ole Miss being discussed. He offered no further comment on the matter.

Here’s the deal, we don’t know what all was said behind closed doors between Luke and Dean. But, since it has all been confirmed by Luke himself that Golding is the No. 1 target to be Wesley McGriff’s replacement, we can surmise that the two had a lot to talk about this weekend.

And Neal McCready and Chase Parham said as much on their Monday episode of their podcast. So for now, we are on Golding Watch until he says ‘no’.

Further, Golding visited Dean last week for an in-home visit and, yeah, I’m sure it was talked about there, too.

But, the point remains. Luke still has to pry away the talented 34-year old coordinator not only from Saban, but from other Power 5 suitors as well as he has become quite the candidate after turning around UTSA’s defense in 2016 and earning the trust of Saban this year to run his defense.

If Luke were to pull this off, it would not only earn him some points in the earning the fan base back camp, but also the Rebels’ chances of landing Dean would grow exponentially.

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