Ole Miss will be looking for a head coach after the 2017 season thanks to embattled head coach Hugh Freeze resigning on Thursday night. And because of the NCAA cloud hanging over them and the potential backlash from Freeze’s actions, the Rebels likely won’t be able to nab a big-time name as their next head coach.
But one of the names being floated around to replace Freeze in 2018 is eye-catching for Vol fans.
Former Tennessee head coach and current Dallas Cowboys wide receivers coach Derek Dooley was listed as a serious candidate for Ole Miss’s head coaching position by Fox Sports 1’s Jason McIntyre on Friday.
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) July 21, 2017
And McIntyre isn’t the only one linking Dooley to Ole Miss.
According to a press release, Dooley has the second-best odds to be hired as the Rebels’ next head coach. According to odds on Betonline.AG, SMU head coach Chad Morris is a 3-1 favorite to land the job with Dooley coming in second with 5-1 odds. Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is third (7-1), and former LSU head coach Les Miles is fourth (8-1).
The last (and only) time Dooley coached in the SEC was with the Vols, and his tenure was one of the worst in Tennessee history. Dooley went just 15-21 as the Vols’ head coach, and his Vol squads never beat anyone outside Kentucky, Vanderbilt, or (ironically) Ole Miss in the SEC. And Dooley notoriously lost to both Kentucky in 2011 and Vanderbilt in 2012. His loss against the Wildcats was Tennessee’s first loss to Kentucky since 1984.
Ole Miss had success hiring a former Tennessee coach before when they brought on former Vol offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe as head coach. Cutcliffe was 44-29 at Ole Miss before being unceremoniously let go at the end of the 2004 season.
Dooley, however, isn’t Cutcliffe. Dooley has a career coaching record of just 32-41 for his stints at Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. Cutcliffe has a career record of 96-90 at Ole Miss and Duke, where he currently coaches.
Ole Miss may be desperate for a head coach in 2018, but hiring Derek Dooley would still be a surprising move for an SEC program in the SEC West that has to compete against Alabama every season.
Dooley was 0-3 against Alabama, and his Tennessee teams lost by an average of 31 points in those three games.