Hiring of Orgeron puts end to another ride on the coaching rumor carousel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2004

[12/16/04]Thank you, Ed Orgeron.

Thank you for taking the Ole Miss football job and ending nearly a month of ridiculous speculation. The rumor mill was simply out of control.

It seemed as if every coach who was looking for a job, any assistant who coached for a top-name team was rumored to be the next coach. Jackie Sherrill’s name even came up.

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David Cutcliffe’s firing shortly after an Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State started the furor.

Tyrone Willingham, Ron Zook and Urban Meyer were all on the list of Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat and Athletic Director Pete Boone, according to the speculation. Never mind that those two had their own list a list no one was privy to.

Willingham went to Washington, Zook to Illinois and Meyer to Florida.

Then LSU assistant coach Jimbo Fisher became the leading candidate. “We need someone who knows football in the South,” was heard all over talk radio and chat sites.

Then fired Washington coach Rick Neuheisel was a shoo-in for the post. So was University of Miami assistant Randy Shannon. And don’t forget Memphis head coach Tommy West.

Louisville’s Bobby Petrino soon became the top candidate, even though the school said no contact had been made by Ole Miss officials.

The name of Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, who has quietly turned the Broncos from a school known for playing on a blue field to a nationally recognized program, came up. Hawkins soon after signed a five-year contract. Apparently, staying on the blue field was too much to pass up.

Oh yeah, don’t forget the one about Tommy Tuberville, who was so fumed at the way Auburn handled his situation last year that he was certain to return to Oxford.

It was forgotten that Tuberville’s departure from Ole Miss in the first place came with a groundswell of fan ire. It never mattered that Tuberville is still the coach of Auburn and that he will lead his undefeated Tigers into the Sugar Bowl and a $14.5 million payday.

After every college coach had been exhausted, the focus turned to the NFL.

San Francisco’s Dennis Erickson was a “leading candidate” for the Ole Miss job on Sunday. On Monday he said he wanted to stay in the NFL, then reportedly interviewed for the Ole Miss job on Tuesday and that things went well.

Fired Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis had a short run through the rumor wringer a very short one.

Obviously with no pro coach wanting to come to Oxford, the school again turned its attention to the college ranks.

Jeff Bower, the Southern Miss coach who had just completed his 11th straight winning season and 14th season overall, was planning on leaving Wednesday morning for Oxford. That rumor swirled around the New Orleans Superdome as quickly as the wave.

Bower said after the game that he had not even been contacted by Ole Miss.

Everything eventually led back to Ed Orgeron, a Louisiana native currently the defensive coordinator for top-ranked Southern Cal.

All the while, the “experts” on talk radio and Internet rumor sites will say they knew all the time that Orgeron was their man.

They knew because they had seen the list.

What a long list it must have been.

Sean P. Murphy is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail him at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com.