A few rambling thoughts here that never quite made it to the keyboard.
1. What about the Auburn coaching search? The Auburn coaching search was a source of great humor over the last couple of weeks, right down to athletics director Jay Jacobs being booed coming off the plane after hiring Iowa State coach Gene Chizik, the former Auburn offensive coordinator.
It wouldn’t have been so funny if Auburn’s cash has lured Houston Nutt and left me with a Christmas coaching search, but once that search mowed through its first tier of candidates, it seemed like Turner Gill would have been a better fit. He’s obviously a hot name right now, but he’s had big success with a non-existent program, and he would bring offensive know-how.
So Auburn fires a guy who won 85 games in 10 years to hire a coach who won five games in two years.
Maybe Chizik will prove his doubters wrong. He’ll certainly have more resources at Auburn than he did at Iowa State. He’ll have more resources than Tuberville had at Auburn, because he’ll have to succeed so the administration and the football money can say they had the right guy from the start.
2. How about State’s hire? He’s a guy the MSU folks certainly can rally around. Everyone in Starkville wants better offense, and Dan Mullen brings excellent offensive credentials.
MSU athletics director Greg Byrne said he was the first guy he offered the job. Well, I don’t know that’s necessarily a good thing. Nutt’s success this season underscores what experience means in that position.
Maybe Mullen was the first candidate offered the job, but there sure seemed to be a lot of smoke around Chris Petersen. It all reminds me of those elementary school discussions where you passed a note to your sweetheart that read, “Will you by my girlfriend if I ask you?”
The MSU folks I’ve spoken with don’t think Mullen’s age is an issue, and frankly I don’t think it will be a huge obstacle. I think you can be young and skilled at the same time. Obviously there will be a learning curve, and he can improve as he goes along.
Experience is a really good thing if you can get it, but the two assistant coaches hired at Ole Miss before Ed Orgeron — Tommy Tuberville and David Cutcliffe — turned out to be successful hires.
3. What about Ole Miss basketball? After a 103-70 thumping against a vulnerable New Mexico team it’s no longer only about injuries. Obviously this team is missing Eniel Polynice for his defense and his scoring potential, but these talented freshman haven’t acclimated all that well.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy recruited long and lean post players who could get out run. So far they haven’t been able to stay in and rebound, and sophomore Malcolm White appears to have digressed instead of making standard year one to year two improvement.
I thought from the beginning for Ole Miss to reach some of the expectations bubbling around the program that at least one of these freshmen — possibly more — were going to have to jump into the fire the way Chris Warren did last year. That hasn’t happened.
The loss at New Mexico was ugly, but it’s too soon to hit the panic button. The West Virginia loss at home was a good test, one the Rebels could have won, and that’s a good indication of much of the SEC talent that they will face.
What is most troubling about the New Mexico loss is the way the new Rebels handled — or failed to handle — a hostile environment. It won’t be the last time they’ll see that, and right now they’re not a team that can take home games for given.