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Before the Black Friday sales were over, Black Sunday took college football jobs around the country. The title isn’t as catchy as the NFL’s ‘Black Monday,’ but I can’t think of a better alternative. While you’re brainstorming ideas for a new way to honor this occasion, I’ll tell you what all of the departures around the SEC mean for Kentucky.
Matt Luke is Axed
Of all the moves made following the regular season, Matt Luke’s dismissal at Ole Miss is the most surprising. The former Rebel lineman kept the boat afloat following the Hugh Frieze debacle. A well-respected man in the Magnolia State, he turned that goodwill into positive momentum with Rich Rodriguez’s offense in 2019. The program’s upward trajectory came to a screeching halt in one touchdown celebration.
The PeeAT cost Ole Miss the Egg Bowl and Luke’s job. An unexpected termination, the void leaves room for Jon Sumrall to clean up on the recruiting trail in the Deep South. I anticipated UK would reap the most rewards from Sumrall’s connections in the 2021 class, but Luke’s dismissal may have changed that.
Josaih Hayes, a four-star top 15 defensive tackle, was once committed to Ole Miss. The Rebels were the perceived leaders as Miss. State, Auburn and Kentucky tried to wedge their way into his recruitment. Without a head coach in Oxford, Hayes will officially visit Lexington this weekend. Timing is on Kentucky’s side as the Wildcats try to make a big late move.
Food for Thought
Ole Miss and Boston College head coaching jobs opened today. I'm sure there will be plenty of candidates for each, but they could do much worse than Eddie Gran (former Ole Miss assistant) and Brad White (New England native) respectively.
— Jon Hale (@JonHale_CJ) December 2, 2019
Hale makes a good point, even though it is unlikely. White just finished his first year calling a defense at a high level. While Gran has been great, I still don’t know if it’s ‘SEC head coach’ great. A fit that might make more sense for Gran is at USF. With Charlie Strong out, Gran has the South Florida recruiting ties and pedigree for that position. Even so, I don’t expect either to depart, simply because ‘holy crap, next year’s going to be awesome.’ Never say never, but like their head coach I expect each coordinator to stick around for the 2020 season.
The Trolls are Out
Someone on the internet is going to great lengths to dupe Ole Miss fans. One “247 Sports reporter” announced that Mike Leach will be the Rebels’ next head coach. After making a quick glance it appears to be real. Just look at the photoshop work. However, the link is bad, sending you straight to the message board’s home page. The only discernible difference is one letter. The fake account uses a capital “I” in the handle instead of an “l” to spell out Rebels. Coaching searches are crazy.
The one on the left is the real account. The one on the right, which is tweeting Leach, is the fake account. pic.twitter.com/2SOrGtWeeD
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) December 2, 2019
Muschamp Cleans House
Will Muschamp’s offensive coordinators are doomed the day they accept the position. When the 2020 season kicks off Screaming Bill will still be on the sidelines. He’ll be accompanied by a new offensive coordinator. The next OC at South Carolina will be his fifth in nine seasons dating back to his time at Florida. Continuity and consistency aren’t really a thing in a Will Muschamp program. He’ll be tiptoeing on thin ice for the next 12 months.
See ya, Barry Odom
Most believed Odom would get a pass for a year in which the Tigers were not eligible for a bowl game. Even so he was let go a year after negotiating a big contract extension.
The recruiting ramifications for Kentucky aren’t as significant as the other losses, but it does make the SEC East a comfortable place for Mark Stoops to call home. The longest-tenured coach in the division will face a first-year head coach at Missouri and two head coaches that are a couple bad moves away from being fired, Derek Mason at Vanderbilt and Muschamp at South Carolina. That leaves Kentucky near the top competing against Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, three of the most successful programs in the history of the SEC. Not too shabby.
Transfer Portal SZN
Two of our favorite quarterbacks will not be on the schedule in 2020. Jake Bentley will leave South Carolina after 22 seasons. Kentucky never lost to the Gamecocks when he started under center. Kentucky probably would have claimed a victory over Florida if Feleipe Franks did not suffer a season-ending injury against the Cats. He’ll leave Gainesville for his final season of eligibility.
Don’t be sad for long, Big Blue Nation. There’s another quarterback in the transfer portal that’s ever so close to becoming a Kentucky Wildcat.