Ole Miss Football: Grove Grinder, Always A Lot To Discuss As A Rebel

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 21: Head coach Matt Luke of the Mississippi Rebels reacts during the second half of a game against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 21: Head coach Matt Luke of the Mississippi Rebels reacts during the second half of a game against the LSU Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Even though the 2018 Ole Miss football season has ended and in disappointing fashion there is still a lot of Rebels news to discuss.

Well the 2018 Ole Miss football season has come and gone but there is still a lot going on behind the scenes and a lot for Rebels to talk about. Despite the season going downhill towards the end and changes being made most Rebels are simply happy to see it finally over. It was sad to see a team with so much talent hamstrung by a terrible defense.

There was a point in the season where we still had hopes of a winning record but there were obvious defensive issues which were addressed this past Friday with the firing of Wesley McGriff who was in his second season as defensive coordinator. Naturally this raises questions of who McGriff’s possible replacement may be but we have to assume the defense couldn’t get much worse than it did as the season progressed.

Of course, there have been a number of candidates which have surfaced and I have taken the liberty to produce my own short list. Personally I believe McGriff should have been relieved of his DC duties after last season and at the latest by midseason of this year and replaced by Ole Miss linebackers coach Jon Sumrall. Had Luke done his job his record might look somewhat better. I seriously doubt it would have been much worse if at all.

First Things First

Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss Rebels /

Ole Miss Rebels

As much as Rebel Nation has been split over head coach Matt Luke and his staff there is little denying many Rebels fans are not happy. As most of you have deduced from Luke’s Tuesday season-ending presser he is here to stay for at least one more season.

Look, like most of us I really like Matt Luke and want to see him do well. None of us wanted to see what happened to the Ole Miss football program which resulted in Luke becoming head coach, however it really did happen and here we are now.

While I can understand appreciate the feelings of many Ole Miss fans I can also understand and appreciate the dedication which coach Matt Luke and his family have shown the Ole Miss football program over the years. Luke wants what is best for Ole Miss and he has a chance to make it happen but he has to learn his job is the most important in Oxford.

Now My DC Short List

So we have identified part of the problems we saw with the Rebels in 2018. When we watched Ole Miss part ways with coach Wesley McGriff this past Friday we know somebody else saw what we’ve been seeing the whole season. So now Matt Luke is in the market for a new DC and I have a few favorites of my own. So with a little help from OMSpirit.com here we go.

You can already ascertain from my earlier comments where we would be right now if I had been Matt Luke. Ole Miss would have linebackers coach Jon Sumrall as our DC since the Bama game and we would be 7-5 at least, instead of 5-7. Jon Sumrall is a good coach and there is little which can be said to convince Rebels fans the LBs were the bright spot of our defense this season.

Sumrall came to Ole Miss via Troy State where he served as assistant head coach and worked with the linebackers.. During his tenure with the Trojans they were one of the best defenses in the nation. Sumrall was also very instrumental in the success which Tulane saw while he was there before Troy State.

It’s a toss-up between he and some of the other candidates but for now Sumrall would be the safest hire for Ross Bjork and Matt Luke and with his record before Ole Miss its really difficult to dispute. At Tory Sumrall saw success behind the No.1 red-zone defense in the nation, No.2 in TFLs, No.7 against the run and No.24 in the nation in total defense.

Next Up

Another not so surprising candidate for the defensive coordinators position also has former Ole Miss ties and in fact is a former Rebels player. Bryan Brown who is currently the defensive coordinator at Appalachian State has had his name tossed into the mix. A native of Corinth, Mississippi and a four-year letter-winner for the Rebels DC Brown has helped to compile a 9-2 record for App State in the Sunbelt Conference.

Before you laugh consider one of those two losses came in the Mountaineers season opener against then No.8 Penn State in a 45-38 OT decision on the road in Happy Valley. In 2018 Brown’s defense is ranked among the top in total defense in the FBS. The Mountaineers have proven themselves both on the field and especially on the sideline. Could Brown be back on the field in Oxford? It’s another very safe hire for Bjork but of course there are others in the mix as well. These are just my favorites and the most likely to be hired in my opinion.

Now The OC Position

The performance of the Ole Miss offense was off the charts at times this season but the Rebels found serious struggles in the red-zone. Coach Matt Luke stated in his Tuesday presser, “I know what a red-zone offense looks like.” I’m sure he does but it was because he saw it this season. It was widely speculated among many Rebels 2018 would be offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s last season in Oxford.

With the top offense in the SEC returning it was expected Longo might be called on to seek a head coaching job. Now with a 5-7 record and a ‘no red-zone offense’ it appears it might be more than some ADs want to tackle with a Longo hire for head coach. It was widely known Longo was being considered for the Texas State job but apparently the job fell thru. Much to the dismay of many Ole Miss fans Ole Miss is likely stuck with the OC we have for at least one more season.

Who Do We Owe?

OK, so the Ole Miss football program has been under the strong-arm of the NCAA for the last half decade and we have finally gotten to the point of possibly, and I use possibly very liberally, of seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Or have we? Apparently the Ole Miss Rebels now owe something to the SEC offices in Birmingham. We watched some pretty bad officiating in the SEC this season in quite a few games which didn’t even involve the Rebels and our plight.

However, we also watched the SEC officials absolutely slaughter us in the last two games of the 2018 season. The SEC is the NCAA cash cow and have to make the dollar. The SEC elite knew the Rebels were out of the postseason play picture against both Vandy and Miss State and used the SEC officials to ensure Vandy and Miss State would both draw better bowls. I get it, college football is a huge industry and the SEC is at the top.

We have to find it more than just a little ironic of some of the events when you consider ‘sportsmanship’ in the game of college football and the damage a ‘unfair advantage’ can cause for the game. This is exactly why Ole Miss is on probation. It was determined Ole Miss created a ‘unfair advantage’ and in the name of ‘sportsmanship’ the Ole Miss football was chastised. I’ll be the first to admit we were wrong and got caught but the whole time our own SEC commissioner Greg Sankey bowed out.

Now Sankey wants to meet with the ADs of both Ole Miss and Miss State to discuss the events of this past Egg Bowl and address the rivalry going forward. Is this just another ploy by the SEC to catch the Rebels AD Ross Bjork in another stranglehold or did Sankey’s daughter, who attended Miss State, influence his sudden interest in ‘helping’ Ole Miss once again? Give us a break Sankey. You are the head of the problem in the entire Ole Miss witch hunt. We don’t trust you to do the right thing for Ole Miss. You had your chance and didn’t. Period.

So What’s Next?

Right now a lot of us are still in a daze from this football season and the disappointment of the season has left many of us wanting to just clean house and start over. Trust me, it will not happen at Ole Miss. It never has and never will. However, there are changes coming sooner rather than later and it has to be an improvement from what we saw in 2018.

As the 2018 college football season winds down there will be a number of coaches who will be looking for their next gig. It is highly possible we could see more changes made but we know Matt Luke is in the head coaching position for at least one more season. Matt Luke says Ole Miss football will win again and we will see just how deep his Ole Miss commitment lies in order for us to get back where we were just a few years ago.

Next. The GOATS of Ole Miss. dark

As bad as things may seem right now for Ole Miss football it has been worse than it is and could be much worse. Over the next few weeks there will be a lot going on for Ole Miss football and it could be very exciting moving forward. Hang in there Rebels and lets see where the future for Ole Miss football leads us. Please be sure to check back here and visit and like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for the latest Rebels news and updates. Hotty Toddy!