Austin Departs

After two years as offensive coordinator for Ole Miss, Kent Austin is leaving Oxford to become the 26th head coach at Cornell. Read about his decision and a possible replacement inside.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kent Austin, who was entering his third season at Ole Miss, will be named the 26th head football coach of Cornell tomorrow, according to sources close to the situation.

Announced in a press release by the school Tuesday, the Cornell University Department of Athletics and Physical Education will hold a press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. to announce the hire.

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt is already in the process of finding a replacement, as first reported by the Ole Miss Spirit. One name being floated around is current Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach David Lee, who previously roamed the sidelines with Nutt while at Arkansas.

Lee will be a hard pull for Nutt since he is close to being vested in the NFL retirement system. However, Nutt and Lee worked well together in the past, so Nutt will make a run at him just to see the interest level.

Nutt has some other names in mind, but declined to comment further when asked.

While in Fayetteville, Lee tutored the quarterbacks as the team posted a regular season record of 8-4 and went on to appear in the Cotton Bowl. Following the 2007 season, his only season at Arkansas, Lee had assumed a similar role at Ole Miss. However, Lee opted for the Dolphins, joining the staff on January 10, 2008, before ever getting settled in Oxford.

There's also the possibility of promoting from within, but the first option will be to look outside.

Former Ole Miss wide receivers coach and current San Jose State offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze and several others have expressed an interest in the position, but Nutt's stance on any of them is unclear at this writing.

It is believed Nutt will try to move quickly, but he has not put a time line on the hire.

In his first season with the Rebels in 2007, Austin tutored an offense that improved from 12th in the SEC in scoring (20.1 points per game) to second (32.1 ppg). Ole Miss also ranked in the top four in the league in passing, rushing and total offense while under Austin's watch.

As the quarterbacks coach, Austin guided first-year quarterback Jevan Snead to honorable mention All-SEC from the Associate Press. Snead ranked second in the conference in touchdown passes and third in passing yards.

This season, however, Ole Miss had its share of ups-and-downs on the offensive end. The team finished 43rd nationally in total offense, and fifth in the SEC. Ole Miss also ranked sixth in the conference in rushing offense and fourth in passing offense.

Snead, who opted to pass on his senior season and enter the NFL Draft in early January, was plagued with inconsistency. He tossed 20 touchdowns on the year, though he led the SEC with an identical 20 interceptions.

An Ole Miss letter winner from 1981-85, Austin still ranks among the school's all-time passing leaders. He is second in career completions (566) and attempts (981). Austin sits third in school history in passing yards (6,184) and 200-yard games (11).

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