Color McGriff McGone! Gifts are not required on Thanksgiving, but Matt Luke gave me and all Ole Miss fans a big gift the Friday after Thanksgiving when he fired Rebel defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff.
I hate to see anyone lose their job, especially in these hard economic times. But, I’ll make an exception in McGriff’s case.
Hiring McGriff was former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze’s first big mistake. From the time he was hired until he was fired, McGriff didn’t accomplish a single thing as defensive coordinator. The Rebel defense was bad from the get-go and seemed to get worse week after week until they lost, 35-3, to arch-rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night. There were brief moments of success, but too few to mention.
Gus Malzahn had hired him to coach defensive backs at Auburn but Derrick Mason hired him away to become the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt and Vandy improved in 2016 with McGriff in charge of the defense, so Hugh took a chance. I don’t know what happened, whether McGriff missed on recruiting efforts or what, but he became dead wood on the Rebels’ staff.
Under McGriff, the Ole Miss defensive unit became as porous as Parchman Prison with teams rushing for yardage whenever needed, especially on third down.
Now, all Matt has to do is find a defensive coach who is available who wants to coach at Ole Miss.
The sanctions are behind us and Luke is as clean as a whistle so the NCAA should not be a factor for the new defensive coach.
I don’t have a clue who is available, but I hope Matt begins his search ASAP and gets somebody soon.
The new DC needs to study his players and evaluate them on tape and compare them with talent that is available in community colleges and high schools around the country. Then he needs to recruit the best players — period. What the Rebels need are big defensive linemen that can move and big linebackers that can do likewise.
Matt doesn’t need to concentrate on wide receivers and running backs during the spring recruiting season. The Rebels had the best wide receivers in the SEC this past season. And Scottie Phillips had enough speed to satisfy the Rebel running game. If he recruits enough defensive linemen, maybe one or two of them can become offensive linemen and satisfy that need next season.
I’m not picky as to where they come from, just as long as they can block and tackle.
And McGriff is not involved with their development.
A.J. Brown should get the award as the best wide receiver in the country. I don’t agree with the selection process as I don’t think the team record should be a factor in winning the award. What matters is what the individual does on the field. What hurts A.J. is the drops he’s suffered caused by him taking his eyes off the ball looking to run before he catches the ball.
But, Matt needs to know, as I am sure he does, that there are plenty of coaches out there looking for jobs and it is his job to go find them and sign the best one for his staff.