After the shocking firing of head football coach Matt Luke on Sunday, players storming out of a team meeting, rumors of players transferring and a recruiting class in question with just weeks before the early signing period, it is imperative that Athletics Director Keith Carter strikes gold with new leadership and fast.
If there is one thing that Ole Miss fans can cling onto about Ventura Partners, the search firm contracted to assist in the search for a new football coach, it is that they can bring in a solid coach, shown in the head basketball coach Kermit Davis’s hire in 2018.
During the social media fallout after the firing, two names stand out the most; one of them is leading a terror just 90 miles north of Oxford, and the other has a national championship ring and SEC pedigree.
Mike Norvell, head coach of the current-AAC West champion Memphis Tigers, is a popular candidate among the Ole Miss faithful. During his time at Memphis, he has led the Tigers to national prominence with three straight bowl appearances and three straight AAC West Championships.
He even brought College GameDay to Beale Street, of all places. It is because of this success that he is the highest-paid head coach outside of the Power 5 and is currently sought after by almost every college football program that is searching for a new head coach.
Norvell has also signed some of the most overlooked recruits in Mississippi and turned them into star conference players — more notably running back Kenny Gainwell and defensive lineman O’Bryan Goodson — two key contributors on each side of the ball.
Because of the convenience of location, hiring Norvell makes sense, and it is easy to see why Ole Miss fans are jumping at the opportunity via social media.
Lane Kiffin is almost always a name that is brought up in coaching searches, simply because of the brand he has built in college football. Kiffin has head-coaching experience with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders as well as Tennessee and USC in the college football ranks.
While he has been more reputable as an assistant coach during his early years at USC and later at Alabama, it may be hard to pass up on someone with that wide range of experience.
Also consider what he is doing at Florida Atlantic, turning them from mediocre to a formidable foe again in C-USA. He has also been around future NFL quarterbacks and knows what he could do to mold John Rhys Plumlee into an elite passer or to polish 2020 Ole Miss hopeful Robby Ashford. While the coach is reportedly in conversations with Arkansas, Kiffin could be a perfect fit in Oxford.
Other names being thrown around include Billy Napier of Louisiana, Willie Fritz of Tulane and Bill Clark of University of Alabama Birmingham. Mike Leach of Washington State caught a lot of attention for the job after a fake Twitter account posted a graphic suggesting he had accepted the job. Ole Miss also could promote from within since there are two former PAC-12 head coaches on staff in Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre, who has been named to the interim position.