Dan Werner pulls no punches when discussing his dismissal as the Ole Miss offensive coordinator by Coach Hugh Freeze following the 2016 season – he doesn’t agree with it at all.
“My first stint at Ole Miss with Ed Orgeron was not very good. We were not successful on offense, but to have an opportunity to come back with Coach Freeze, who was on Ed’s staff with me, and take a team that was 2-10 to 7-6 our first year (2012) was remarkable to me,” said Dan. “I thought that was our most amazing job, including the Sugar Bowl year in 2015.
“Remember, that team was 2-10 the year before in 2011 and in one spring and fall camp we were able to put up a winning record, which nobody thought we would do, beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to get to a bowl and win the bowl game.”
After that first year the offense continued to put up good numbers, culminating in the Sugar Bowl year when the Rebs led the SEC in total offense and scoring offense.
“I am proud of what we did on offense and felt we got a little better every year until the last part of last year when we lost Chad Kelly,” he continued. “In 2015, we had, arguably, the best offense in the history of the school when you look at the records we broke. At the end of that year, and for most of the year actually, I didn’t think any defense could stop us or even slow us down much.
“In 2016, we were trying to replace Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and a couple of more draft picks off that ’15 offense and we weren’t quite as good, but even without Chad the last three games, we finished fourth in the SEC in offense, which I thought was pretty good.”
Freeze, however, opted to go a different route, stating he felt there was another level the offense could reach and he felt he needed a change at the top.
“I certainly wasn’t happy with the decision by Hugh, but I understand he's the head coach and he has to make tough choices,” Werner noted. “I told him, though, that I thought it was a terrible decision. The biggest disappointment I have is I feel we had recruited well on offense for 2017 and beyond and I feel this coming season we would've had another 2015 type offensive season.
“It hurts me that someone else is going to get to coach that talent. I believe they will put up some ridiculous numbers with those players and I believe I would have too.”
Having gotten that off his chest, Werner, a true friend to Ole Miss, moved into talk of his future, which a lot of Rebels have been asking The Spirit about.
“Everything is going great with me and my family. Having some time off has been good for me and my children and my fiancé,” he stated. “I'm going to make the best out of this situation, even though, as I said, I didn’t agree with it.”
Werner said he has opportunities “all over the country,” but no matter what, home will be in Oxford.
“No matter what I do, I am keeping my house in Oxford,” Werner said. “It will be hard to live here and find a job and I may have to move my family for some time, but this is my retirement place. This is my home.”
The familiarity and friendliness of Oxford has grown on Werner.
“I've been here 11 years in my current house. The longest I'd ever been anywhere before was 2 ½ years,” Dan explained. “I fell in love with this place. When my wife passed away, I had to decide where to go and I decided to stay. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life.
“This is where I need to be.”
For Werner, his “need” to be in Oxford revolves around the people of not only Oxford but of Ole Miss.
“The people in this town are wonderful. The relationships I have made inside and outside of football have been tremendous,” he closed. “I have great friends here and I met my fiancé here.
“No matter what I do or where I go for the rest of my career, Oxford will be my home and I couldn’t be happier about it.”