Herring-Like Kehoe Answers The Call

FAYETTEVILLE — Art Kehoe admits he was in shock when his employer of 25 years fired him in January. He stayed in the house for a few days and considered his options.



That's when Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron began recruiting Kehoe.

Orgeron called 2-3 times a day, left messages and even had his wife call Kehoe's fiancee to try to convince them to come to Oxford, Miss. Orgeron considered Kehoe to be a "five-star recruit" and pursued him accordingly.

Orgeron wanted Kehoe — with his fiery personality and uncensored mouth — to be Ole Miss' offensive line coach so he could bring a much-needed jolt to the program. To get him, Orgeron called his friend relentlessly.

"I do believe I was the first guy to call him immediately after he was fired," Orgeron said. "I told him I was coming to get him, he had no choice.

"I'd leave messages like, ‘Hey Art, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, what do you think? Are you scared?'"

The idea of Kehoe coaching at any school but the University of Miami seemed odd. He had been with the Hurricanes for 27 years, first as an offensive guard, then a student assistant, then a graduate assistant and finally as the offensive line coach.

Kehoe worked for five different head coaches at Miami, and he was on the staff for all five of the Hurricanes' national championships.

But after getting fired as part of Miami coach Larry Coker's staff shakeup following a 9-3 finish last season, Kehoe was in need of a job. And Orgeron was willing to do whatever it took to get him.

"I went to a (coaching) convention," Kehoe said, "and as soon as I got to the convention, like a day later, he (Orgeron) came right to my room, knocking on the door and told me in no uncertain terms, ‘This is my home visit. Before I leave here, I'm going to get a commitment from you.'"

Kehoe knew little about the state of Mississippi, let alone Ole Miss. But he agreed to join Orgeron's staff, and he has since shaken up the Rebels' offensive line. He's also brought a level of intensity that was noticeably missing.

"You can see his stamp on them for sure," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, whose No. 15 Razorbacks (5-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) host Ole Miss (2-5, 1-3 SEC) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

When asked how important the addition of Kehoe has been to the staff, Orgeron said, "Tremendous, more than people would know from the outside."

Kehoe has a demeanor similar to that of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. They're both bald and large in stature, with intense personalities and mouths that sometimes get them in trouble.

In fact, the two coaches faced each other when Herring was a linebacker at Florida State and Kehoe played offensive guard at Miami from 1979-80.

"Besides being a funny person, he's a real good coach," Ole Miss wide receiver Mike Wallace said of Kehoe. "He's got the offensive line much better than I've seen since I've been here. He's done a real big turnaround with the time he's had."

Kehoe's firing came as a surprise, not only to him but to others in the college football ranks. Coaches assumed he'd never leave Miami.

Kehoe prefers not to talk about Miami, insisting that he's moved on. He said his focus is strictly on turning Ole Miss into a winning program. But it's evident that there are still some hard feelings over how he left his alma mater.

"You know I can unleash a bombast (about Miami) ... but I don't want to do that because I don't want anybody to think that I think that way about the University of Miami," Kehoe said. "Some individuals involved, for sure. But not the University of Miami. The University of Miami is great to me."

Beside, he's more concerned with Ole Miss nowadays.

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