Ole Miss announced the hiring of a new offensive and defensive coordinator on Friday. Phil Longo, most recently the offensive coordinator at Sam Houston State, was named the Rebels new offensive coordinator. Wesley McGriff, currently Auburn's secondary coach, was named Ole Miss' new defensive coordinator. While the two major assistant spots have been filled, a few others remain vacant.
Two coaches the Rebels need to replace are defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, who departed for a defensive coordinator position under his brother Lane at FAU, along with wide receivers coach Grant Heard who has joined Indiana's staff under former Ole Miss assistant Tom Allen. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze expressed his excitement for Heard and Kiffin at his press conference on Friday but admitted the staff shakeup was needed.
“It’s time for some change to maybe revive us a little bit," Freeze said. "We’ve had a good run. The first four years here were incredible.
We live in a society where they forget about those and move on to the next one and we needed a change."
Freeze also spoke on safeties coach and special teams coordinator Corey Batoon who has been rumored to potentially leave Ole Miss for another program.
"Corey right now is going to be assigned in an off-the-field position here," Freeze said. "We love him and his knowledge of the game.
Hope he’ll be able to stay here and assist us in some role, not sure what that is yet, but we’d love to keep him in the building."
McGriff and current cornerbacks coach Jason Jones are anticipated to split duties in the secondary, with one coaching safeties and the other coaching corners. Linebackers coach is another vacant spot the Rebels need to fill along with a new run game emphasized role on defense that Freeze believes is necessary.
"Defensively, McGriff and I are doing that together, Freeze said. "He’s going to be talking to some people this weekend.
We have the linebacker spot and the defensive line spot, which will be critical for him. We really need a run-game coordinator up there who runs the fits. McGriff’s experience is in the back end and he knows what he wants, and we have to marry those two. He’s going to spend some time this weekend with those guys.”
Ole Miss retained four coaches from the 2016 season. Offensive line coach Matt Luke, running backs coach Derrick Nix, tight ends coach Maurice Harris and Jones are all returning.
"Matt Luke has opportunities every year to go other places," Freeze said. "We’re thrilled to hold onto him. He’s a rock here.
He’s somebody who is extremely important to me and vital to our success here. I think he’s got his best offensive line room finally put together and they’re young, and he does a great job in all aspects of representing Ole Miss recruiting. Derrick Nix and Mo Harris, two of my better recruiters do a great job of capturing their rooms. Those guys are rocks here. Glad we held on to them."