John Thompson, who has been a successful defensive coordinator at Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida and USM, and head coach at East Carolina, to name part of his resume, was happily minding his own business as the athletics director of his alma mater, Central Arkansas.
He couldn't deny the itch to coach again was there, but the opportunity would have to be perfect.
"Perfect," for him, came calling when Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron offered him the defensive coordinator post at Ole Miss.
"Being from Northeast Arkansas, I always had a feel for Ole Miss and their great tradition," said Thompson. "When Coach O called me, I had to take a look.
"What I saw was what I was looking for. Coach O is buildin something special at Ole Miss and I want to be a part of it. I am thrilled. This is a great opportunity."
The Ole Miss position was not something he pursued, but when O came knocking, he answered the bell.
"Central Arkansas is my alma mater and this school and community have been wonderful to me and my family. I was not looking to leave, but the situation at Ole Miss - I have known Coach O, Dan Werner and a lot of people there - for a long time - was too much to pass up," he continued. "UCA is an excellent school and place to be, but I found I still had my heart in coaching and being on the field.
"I have the same passion for football that Coach O has and the people of Ole Miss have."
Thompson is known for his attacking style of defense, but John said flexibility is the key to making things work.
"Coach O and I will work very closely. He's the head coach and defense is his background. We will work well together. I just want to come in and help. We will do what is best for our team to make our defense the best it can be," he noted. "I have found through the years that the main keys are believing in what you do and everyone being on the same page more than systems and schemes. Not that those things aren't important, but we will all be on the same page and believe in what we are doing first."
Thompson and his family visited Ole Miss last Saturday. When they got on the plane to go back to Arkansas, they had a family vote on the change.
"It was unanimous. They all wanted to come to Ole Miss. There were no no-votes," he said. "I am thankful to Central Arkansas for everything they have done for my family and me, but this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. And that's doesn't mean 'better,' it just means what's in my heart to do at this stage of my life and with where my passions lie."
Thompson is expected to be in Oxford late this week to begin his duties.
'JT' headed to Oxford
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