Good afternoon. Ed Orgeron will not be returning as Ole Miss' head coach next year. At 9:00 this morning, the chancellor and I met with him, and we thanked him for his tremendous work ethic and the energy, commitment and sacrifices that he has made over the past three years. There are at least five criteria I use in evaluating coaches. One is producing a fundamentally sound team, a motivated team on a consistent basis. A successful brand of leadership by the coaching staff. To recognize and adapt. And his management of the game. Coach Orgeron has made tremendous strides in a lot of these areas during his first tenure as a head football coach. He did a great job in many of these areas. But unfortunately, I don't think it is enough for us to continue. We will be moving forward and looking for a new coach. The search will begin, and we will use the same type of search as the basketball one last year.
What criteria did he fail in?
I wouldn't go so far as to say failure. That is a relative term. I feel that it is important to weigh the whole balance of things. Everything is important. Not one that much more than the others. Strides could be made in some and not so much in others. To say one was a failure, I wouldn't say that. In weighing everything, it wasn't enough to warrant going forward with our program.
What about the rest of the staff?
They all have contracts. I will be meeting with the coaching staff at 1 p.m.
You and the chancellor gave Orgeron support recently. When did that begin to change?
That was with the anticipation that he would finish in a strong fashion. That did not happen. It wasn't any one moment in time. But rather in an assessment of the final games of the year.
How much did the State game play into this decision?
The fourth quarter and the first quarter two games ago. All of those are important. The basis of this decision is all the criteria mentioned before and of course not finishing strong.
What is the timetable for interviewing new candidates?
We will use the same format as the basketball search. The process will obviously start immediately. That was a basketball firm, so this will be a different firm.
Did the hotel situation have any impact?
It had no impact.
Did the fractured fan base play a factor?
It is certainly easier to succeed with everyone pulling in the same direction. I would hope that decisions could be made in a little more sterile environment than that. It would not be correct to say that disharmony had no impact. You have to weigh everything, but that wasn't a major factor. But it is important.
What are the details of Orgeron's buyout?
It is 75 percent of his base salary until December of 2009 minus what he makes in another job. His base salary is 900,000.
Have the players been told?
We have tried to text message as many of them as possible and let them know the situation. My plan is to meet with the team on Sunday.
Was hiring Orgeron a mistake?
I always try to look back and find things I could have done better in every situation. I don't think it was a mistake. He had a great resume and recommendations from top-caliber coaches. He had been in successful programs and been an integral part of those programs. He was recognized nationally as a great recruiter. Based on the available information, you make that call. You don't go back and second guess that now. We have to learn from that going forward and look at the things I could have done better. The first person to look at is me.
What was the process after the game Saturday?
The chancellor and I talked last night and decided to meet this morning. That is what we did.
What is the contract situation with the assistant coaches?
Some have Jan. to Dec. contracts and some are July 1 to June 30. John Thompson is on the first year of a three-year contract. I believe everyone else is in their last year or have one-year contracts.
Does this extend the time it will take to put a winner on the field?
I see this as an opportunity instead of a concern. We now have a chance to reconfigure and rethink. And add energy and enthusiasm back to the program. It is an opportunity to move forward.
Who will run the program in the interim?
Hugh Freeze is the head of recruiting, and I have asked him to be the lead, my point man, as well as John Thompson. I will meet them at 1 p.m.
Will those guys be retained?
All our assistants should have the opportunity to meet with whoever the new coach may be. They have done a good job in their areas, but it will be up to the new coach as to who he wants to bring in as assistants.
Can you explain the progress that was made under Orgeron?
It is a lot more detailed answer than the question. To try to get into stats, facts and figures, as well as the psychological approach to things would be difficult in this type of environment. I would welcome that question down the road.
Are you prepared to make the financial commitment necessary to get the right coach?
We are always ready to pay what is necessary. What I feel very strong about is an incentive structure. I like having a solid base play, but I believe that you pay for performance. That will be the type of approach we have here.
How will recruiting be handled?
I'll meet with the coaches at one. I have asked Freeze to do an analysis of all the recruits. The ones that are very sincere about coming to Ole Miss, and the ones that aren't quite as strong or committed or not. And then we will see which coaches want to continue recruiting.
Will the base salary need to increase?
I don't know at this point. It will depend on the coach and how good his agent is. More than that, I want a coach that wants to be paid fair with market rates. He will have the ability to make a lot of money based on performance. That shows me a competitive coach.
How was the pool of candidates the last time you held a search?
We had a good group of candidates. You can have coaches that have experienced success, but certain things have to fit. There is a certain culture at Ole Miss. There is a certain culture at Tennessee. There is a certain culture at Arkansas State. You have to find coaches that fit and have the ability to communicate with the fan base and things like that. There is more to it than just finding a guy with the best record.
Do you have a certain type of candidate in mind?
It is finding the best person that suits Ole Miss. I know that is a broad comment. I'd like to start with a blank page and find that person.
Is there a timeframe?
Immediately, but I can't go any farther than that.
Is there a short list? Is Franchione on the list?
I think it is too early to speculate.
What does the process involve?
We will have a search firm, and the chancellor and I will communicate as we go forward. I am the lead in this, and I need to do my homework and interviews. When recommendations are made, to communicate with him on that.
Does the NW State attendance go into not finishing strongly?
I don't think so. I have to focus on what happens on the field when evaluating coaches. What he has control over.
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