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Coach ‘O’ is out

By Myra Bean

“Ed Orgeron will not be returning as head coach of Ole Miss next year,” said Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone in a Saturday afternoon news conference.

Questions had surfaced a few weeks ago regarding Orgeron’s employment and he and Boone had assured the public “Coach O” would still have a job.

Boone fielded questions from the media as to what led to the decision to dismiss Orgeron at this point in time. Boone said the outcome of the 17-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Friday was not the reason. Neither was the decision to try to convert a fourth down and one from the Rebels 49 which ended in a tackle for loss, Boone said.

“At 9 a.m. Chancellor Khayat and I met with him and thanked him for his tremendous work ethic, the energy and commitment and sacrifice he has made over the last three years,” Boone said, while Khayat listened from the front row of the media center in the Indoor Practice Facility.

The athletic director outlined five criteria he uses to evaluate coaches:

1. Producing fundamentally sound team;

2. Ability to motivate a team on a consistent basis;

3. Successful leadership of the coaching staff;

4. Ability to recognize and adapt; and

5. Management of the Game.

“Coach O has some tremendous strides in a lot of these areas in his first tenure as head coach,” Boone said. “He did a great job in many of these areas. Unfortunately I do not think it is enough to continue.”

Ole Miss will use a search firm, like it did last year for a basketball coach, to find candidates and hope to begin immediately.

Orgeron will be paid 75 percent of his base salary of $900,000 as a buy out through 2009 for a total of $1,350,000.

Coaching staff met with Boone at 1 p.m. Saturday. All coaching staff has not been dismissed as rumors said. Some have contracts, according to Boone. Hugh Freeze has been asked to take the interim position until a new head coach is named. John Thompson has also been asked to help out.

“I think all of our coaches should have the opportunity to meet with whoever the new coach might be,” Boone said. “So many of them have done such a good job in their areas. They deserve that opportunity. It will certainly be up to the new coach as to who he would want to bring in as his assistants.”

There was no long process, according to Boone. He and the Chancellor talked Friday night and agreed to meet Saturday morning.

Since the Saturday press conference, Ole Miss has hired the firm of Neinas Sports Services to look for potential coaches.