I have just returned from Oxford and thought about the firing of Coach O on my way home. I was at the press conference when David Cutcliffe was fired and I have to say I was not all too upset to see him go. As I left the press conference announcing the firing of Coach O, my feelings were a little different.
I liked the emotion Coach O brought to the Ole Miss football program. Coach O brought fire to a program like it had never seen before in a head coach. His love for football and effort in trying to make the Ole Miss program successful is something I will never forget. I have stated this before, but I will never forget the moment in Baton Rouge last year, when O had his team fired up coming out of the locker room in the second half. That was the most fired up and emotional football team I have ever seen, and probably will see.
Coach O put Ole Miss on the map with recruits that would have otherwise passed right over us. He had the guts to go after guys, that former Ole Miss coaches would have never dreamed of. And not only did he go after 5 star recruits, he recruited them till the very end. He went after and were competitive on guys like AJ Jackson, Brent Schaeffer, Jevan Sneed, Joe McKnight, numerous others. Granted some of these guys did not come to Ole Miss and some proved to be busts and some have yet to prove, but at the time, these guys were 5 star players that every team in the country were going after, and O was as competitive as USC and LSU arguably the best programs in the land. His recruiting will never be forgotten at Ole Miss and will be hard for a new coach to put as much effort in this aspect of the game as O did.
With all that being said, Coach O failed in the main area that coaches are judged by, wins and losses. In the end, it was his game management or lack thereof that had him fired. In Coach O's three years as the head coach, the Rebels were competitive in multiple games, but could never get the win he needed to unite the fan base. Coach O and staff never really put together a full four quarters of football in his three years at Ole Miss. There were multiple games in his three years that were embarrassing for Ole Miss fans and the program, as well as off the field incidents. However I will argue that every program has just as many off the field incidents, and O did an excellent job in getting a hold of them. Coach O was a disciplinarian and stayed true to his word with discipline issues. This was an area that many of the players will be relieved he has been dismissed over. Coach O worked these players into the ground. Which is another of his faults. Many of the players were just tired of going through the day to day process which Coach O put them through. Early reports out are that many of the players are glad to see him go, obviously for the reason he worked them to death.
When Coach O was hired there were many out to get him from the beginning. The media was attacking him for events that happened earlier in his life involving alcohol and fighting. Then there were the Ole Miss fans that never gave him a chance, these people were out to get him from day one. Why? Because he was a different head coach than Ole Miss had ever had. He had a fiery Cajun style that did not fit in with the upper class Ole Miss fans. O did not feel like he had to wine and dine with the University elite, or go play golf with a bunch of big time boosters to make everyone happy. I respected O for not doing this, however many boosters wrote him off from the beginning when he did not pay attention to their money. The same people that were attacking Coach O to other alumni and anyone that would listen, were the same people that were mad we fired Cutcliffe. Its time to move past the good ole boy network, in case these people have not noticed, there are no Mannings left to play. Most of the same people that were complaining about O from the beginning, are the same people that have been holding this University back in time for years.
This is one thing that can not happen when a new head coach is fired. Ole Miss fans can not fight each other over whether the coach is the right pick or not. They have to unite and get behind whoever is hired. All I ask is whoever it be, let's give this guy longer than a summer before we write him off and attack him because of whatever past he may have or whatever personality he has.
Do I think O should have been given four years? Yes. As I was pulling into the press conference on Saturday Coach O is pulling out. As several cars thanked Coach O for his three years of service to Ole Miss, O responded by thanking them and wished us all good luck.
But as I stated earlier it all comes down to wins and losses and Coach O could not cut it in the SEC with the amount of time he was given. He understands this and knows mistakes were made. I predict the college game will see Coach O as head coach again, probably not in the next five years, but he will appear again and will learn from his mistakes.
Its time to move on and its time for a new mood with the Ole Miss football program.