For much of the past decade, the Ole Miss defense has been average. Actually, they’ve been awful for much of that time, apart from a decent improvement over the past two seasons. But can a change at the defensive coordinator position be the spark that turns around nearly 10 years of mediocrity? We’re about to find out.
Ole Miss has a new defensive coordinator, and based on his resume, he’s one of the best the Rebels have ever had at the position.
After former coordinator Chris Partridge left Oxford to head back to Michigan, where he started his college coaching career, the Rebels made quick work of finding his replacement.
The answer? Alabama’s Pete Golding.
For a lot of people, it seemed like an odd decision from Golding. Leaving the Alabama powerhouse to take the same position at Ole Miss? No one does that.
But when you understand that Golding went to college at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, it at least makes a bit more sense. He was also an assistant coach for the Statesmen, in addition to successful stints at UTSA, Southern Miss, and Southeastern Louisiana, all before heading to Alabama.
Golding’s Tenure at Alabama
Golding spent five years under Nick Saban at Alabama, with the last four being spent as the sole defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa.
In that time, despite Alabama fans’ complaints, his defenses were extremely solid. In fact, in terms of scoring defense, the Crimson Tide finished outside the Top-15 only once under Golding.
Yards per game? The numbers are slightly down, but his Tide defenses still never finished outside the Top-30 in the nation.
Oh, and his defenses led Alabama to one national championship, as well as playing for another during his stop in Tuscaloosa.
Now, it is worth pointing out that it’s harder to get elite-level athletes to Ole Miss. The prestige isn’t there, the past success isn’t there, but as Hugh Freeze (recruiting violations or not) and now Lane Kiffin, have shown, it isn’t impossible.
Add in the new age of NIL, and the new look Grove Collective, an NIL collective for Ole Miss student-athletes, and something could be brewing in Oxford.
Is Golding the Right Fit for Ole Miss?
It’s hard to think he won’t be. He has a successful resume everywhere he’s been, Mississippi ties, and a look that fits in perfectly on campus. He sounds like the guy.
But can his coaching style work at Ole Miss?
While at Alabama, a lot of people criticized his system as being “too complicated.” Many other fans, after all, are relentless and had various other criticisms of Golding.
But former players? They loved him, and constantly defended him against the criticism, which should not be surprising. At barely 39 years old, it’s easy to imagine that he connects better with college athletes than many older coaches can.
That may not do much, as we don’t know how his time with the Rebels will go. And many Ole Miss fans can (without reason) be just as relentlessly critical as a lot of Alabama fans. But what it should do is give hopeful optimism to the future, at least in terms of the defensive side of the ball for Ole Miss.
If anything, the offense should ensure that Golding’s Ole Miss defense doesn’t have to keep opponents to 14 points per game to pick up wins.
Hopefully, that’s something a Golding defense can manage.
Photo courtesy: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports