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Ole Miss coaching staff updates: rumors and interviews

It’s coaching carrousel season in college football, and the rumor mill is spinning in Oxford. Regardless of fan opinion, Matt Luke’s job is safe. He’s going to get one year of full recruiting, without sanctions, to turn the program around. However, uncertainty swirls as to who will be surrounding Luke on the Ole Miss staff.

Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is out, let go of less than 24-hours following the Egg Bowl. That position is still open. As of today, Phil Longo is still on staff as the offensive coordinator but has been interviewing for outside head coaching openings. In the heart of recruiting season, coaching ambiguity is hardly ideal. Right now, uncertainty a reality for the Rebels.

The Defensive Coordinator hunt

It should be noted upfront that everything about the defensive coordinator hunt is rumors and speculation. Matt Luke said at his season ending press conference that finding a DC is his top priority, along with recruiting, but he won’t rush finding the right fit. He needs to move fast, as it’s often hard to recruit kids when there is coaching uncertainty.

It is believed that Alabama co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Pete Golding is Matt Luke’s top candidate for the opening. Golding is a native of Hammond, Louisiana and played football at Division II Delta State. There’s a good chance Golding won’t be going anywhere. Even if he does, Ole Miss is not the only team pursuing the Alabama product: Oklahoma is also on the hunt. Reports as early as Tuesday morning say Golding may have already turned down Luke’s offer, but these are unconfirmed.

Former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre is also believed to be on the Ole Miss shortlist. MacIntyre coached defensive backs and wide receivers for the Rebels from 1999-2002. Colorado fired MacIntyre in November after six seasons and a 30-44 record.

What’s going on with Phil Longo?

Longo hasn’t been shy about his desire to be a head coach again. In his end of season press conference, Matt Luke acknowledged that Longo is getting looks from other schools. Longo interviewed last week for the head coaching opening at Texas State, but did not get the job. They hired West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

While Longo said his priority at this point is Ole Miss and recruiting for the Rebels, it’s unlikely that his name will stop being linked to lower-level division-one head coaching openings. His name was also connected to the opening at the University of Massachusetts, a job that was filled yesterday.

The Ole Miss offense was one of the most prolific in the country, by yards, under Phil Longo. However, they struggled mightily in the red-zone. The Rebels were 9th in the NCAA in yards per game, but were tied with Syracuse for the most red-zone field goals among power-five teams. If Longo is to leave Oxford, the sooner the better for the Rebels, as they’d then have to re-enter the carrousel for a second coordinator position.