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Opinion

If I were Athletic Director at Ole Miss (Part 2)

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I perceive an overall negative attitude in the Ole Miss athletic department and I suspect this may be an issue with Houston Nutt the Head Football Coach and Andy Kennedy the Men’s Head Basketball Coach. I want to confirm for myself if this is true. After a meeting regardless of their comments I will be able to detect their sincerity and truthfulness with the issue. In Houston Nutt I feel there is already a head coach in place that is a fit for this university and the long range goals of the program. However there is the perception that Houston has flirted with the possibility of leaving for other schools in both of the past 2 years. Has it been speculation by fans and media? Or has it been reality? It is important to evaluate it and come up with the truth. If I have a coach that is not happy for whatever reason it would be important to know all the facts and fix what can be fixed. It is my belief that Houston Nutt is a good coach, a solid man. He is good for Ole Miss and Ole Miss is good for Houston Nutt. My sense is that Houston may have become “worn out” from all the sideline issues that this university has dealt with during his tenure. The chants from students of “the south will rise again”, “save colonel rebel campaigns”, in addition to the KKK showing up to protest prior to a game in 2009. All of these sideline issues have been issues in recruiting and trying to build a program and face it, all of the competition does not have to deal with these age old problems. I want to have these issues resolved and confirm to my coaches it will not be issues moving forward. I would use all of the power of the athletic director’s office to ensure that. In order to move forward Ole Miss must know that Houston Nutt is sold on Ole Miss, so that Ole Miss can be sold on Houston Nutt. There is no reason why Ole Miss can not compete every year at a high level in the SEC. Again we must focus on what we can do and what we do have! In Andy Kennedy, this university at this time has the best possible coach we can have. Ole Miss has not made the NCAA Tournament during his 5 year tenure and this is a disappointment. But Kennedy took over one of the worst programs in the SEC. It is also a program that should compete for SEC West and SEC titles every year. Our location and recruiting base makes this possible. Andy Kennedy has recruited better than any coach in Ole Miss History and has broken the barrier that so long kept Ole Miss from recruiting the top talent from Mississippi. In the last 2 years Ole Miss has signed 5 players from Mississippi. We have averaged 20 wins per season the last 5 seasons. Now it is time to take it to the next level and become what we can become in basketball. We need to get the process started in building a new basketball arena so that we can prove our commitment to winning in basketball. Most likely Andy Kennedy needs to make some adjustments in his program. I believe he will and we need to support him by allowing him to make his necessary changes and supporting the program. That will be done moving forward. In a summary of the major sports head coaches there are solid coaches in place. Despite the recent success of the baseball program the top 2 potential revenue sources remain football and basketball. Some would argue that baseball makes money and has moved ahead of basketball. That is only because basketball has not succeeded at the same level as baseball. A basketball program that makes the NCAA Tournament will always trump a baseball program that makes NCAA regional’s in terms of money. We need all 3 but football and basketball will be the top priority. Actually my impression is the baseball program is not moving forward and is in danger of dropping into the bottom half of the SEC and may need to be evaluated at the end of 2011. We must remove the negativity that exists in our athletic department and get all university staff, athletic department staff, coaches and fans on the same page. Our focus must now be more positive and move forward and it all starts with our coaches and staff. Tomorrow we take a look at a very important area that has been a huge disappointment and lags seriously behind. Marketing.]]]]> ]]>

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