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How “Strong” are potential Florida replacements for Hugh Freeze?

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire


It’s never too early to talk about next season’s coaching carousel, when plenty of established programs in major conferences could be looking for a new head man. The first huge opening was in Oxford, Mississippi Thursday night, where Ole Miss Rebels head Coach Hugh Freeze abruptly resigned amid allegations of personal misconduct.

The state of Florida holds a couple of names that could easily find their way into the discussion for the job, as the 38th head coach in Ole Miss history, if they decide to part ways with interim coach Matt Luke. Lane Kiffin, Charlie Strong, and even possibly Butch Davis, could find their way to the Grove in 2018.

Kiffin (above), about to enter his first season at FAU, doesn’t have any shortage of publicity which is what could keep him from becoming the head man in Oxford, or it could be his saving grace. On the field, Lane has shown that he knows how to run an offense having several successful seasons as the offensive coordinator at Alabama for example last season he operated the 12th best rushing attack in the nation.

His head coaching past does involve a one year stay at Tennessee before jumping ship for the USC Trojans. Something he would do again, if he indeed were to go to Ole Miss. His stay in Southern California didn’t end like he wanted to but he holds a 35-21 record as a head coach in the college ranks. Kiffin could also be joining the SEC West, where he would be going head to head with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide every year, which could end up being highly entertaining and would keep the Rebels relevant, even in the face of future NCAA sanctions.

Charlie Strong couldn’t meet the high demands that were present in Austin, which resulted in him being replaced as the man at the University of Texas. Strong landed on his feet though in Tampa, where he takes over a talented USF program that could flirt with a “New Year’s Six” bowl this year. Strong thrived at Louisville, while they were a member of the Big East. So seeing more of the same at USF in the AAC wouldn’t be a surprise.

A New Year’s Six appearance or a great one loss season could have the Rebs calling and giving Strong, who’s been an assistant at Florida and South Carolina, another crack at a top program. While Ole Miss may be demanding. it won’t be nearly as much as Texas where he was pressured and not 100 percent welcomed from the start.

FIU’s Butch Davis comes in as the dark horse name on this list, as he hasn’t coached since his time at the University of North Carolina and is the most likely not to leave after one year. Davis though does bring some solid credentials to the field. He was the head coach of the University of Miami’s Hurricanes football team from 1995 to 2000 leading them back to prominence.  Then, he left for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns as coach/GM from 2001 to 2004.

Davis served as the head coach of the Tar Heels football team from 2007 until the summer of 2011. His resume could strike Ole miss as someone they want to lead the program moving forward. The caveat though is there was also the Academic Misconduct and also the improper benefits that caught up to him and led to his dismissal. Obviously, Ole Miss has NCAA issues to content with, currently.

If it’s the on field success that leads to one of these three men getting the call to Oxford the man in the early lead is probably Charlie Strong, as he has the strongest team of the three teams at the moment. If they’re going for a coach that can keep them in the national spotlight and as relevant as possible, then Lane Kiffin could be the man they want. If they are looking for someone with a deep history in the game and has dealt with sanctions and investigations first-hand the Butch Davis could be the guy.

It’s very early in all three cases, as these guys haven’t coached a game at their new school. But, one could find his way to becoming the next head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.

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