BATON ROUGE LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli #8 of the Ole Miss Rebels walks off the field after their 43-36 loss to the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 20 2010 in Baton Rouge Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Ross Bjork Named Ole Miss Athletic Director, Leaving Western Kentucky

Outlets on both sides of the equation are reporting Ole Miss will replace Pete Boone with Ross Bjork, Western Kentucky athletic director.

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Ross Bjork's Fund-Raising Background Impresses Ole Miss Fans

Mississippi Rebels fans have had a day to file through the background of new athletic director Ross Bjork, and it seems that, for the most part, they like what they're finding. He's young, has no ties to the previous regime, and has a knack for making money just appear out of nowhere, a handy talent during facilities reconstruction times.

Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion had a roundtable on the matter. One stance:

From a fundraising standpoint, he seems like a slam dunk. From a youthful, engagement standpoint he seems like a slam dunk. His main job now is to energize an understandably disappointed fanbase. He's not Archie Manning or Walker Jones (which is a good thing), but he'll need to prove himself to the sweater vest crowd. Also, how he handles the women's basketball opening and the Andy Kennedy questions will be an interesting insight into his management style. If he can come through that well, I think he'll go far in gaining support among the Ole Miss community.

Elsewhere, "cheat stew" is referenced as a recipe with which Bjork will need to become more familiar. It sounds pretty good!

Bjork has climbed the ranks quickly, with stops including Miami, Mizzou, UCLA and Western Kentucky before landing his first top job at the age of 42.

For more on Rebels football, visit Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.


Ross Bjork Officially Named New Ole Miss Athletic Director

The Mississippi Rebels have replaced Pete Boone with former Western Kentucky Hilltoppers athletic director Ross Bjork, the school announced Wednesday afternoon. Only 39, he continues Ole Miss' recent trend of going for youth over extensive experience — new football coach Hugh Freeze is 42.

School chancellor Dan Jones, in a statement:

"I've spent a lot of time with him," Jones said. "Integrity and character are important to me, and I'm very comfortable with his strengths on those attributes. I'm also very pleased with the professional track he's taken in college athletics. He has trained for this job through his education and a steady, upward track in athletic administration, and he's demonstrated a commitment to Ole Miss and to winning on and off the field."

Bjork presided over the last two years of Hilltoppers sports, during which the football team had its first-ever winning record as a Sun Belt team and the men's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament, though the latter's quite a bit more precedented. Prior to WKU, he worked in the athletic departments at Miami, Missouri, and UCLA.

For more on Rebels football, visit Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.


Ole Miss Set To Hire Western Kentucky AD Ross Bjork, According To Reports

Ole Miss is on the verge of hiring a new athletic director, according to reports. Ross Bjork of Western Kentucky University is expected to be named to the position.


Houston Nutt Fired, Pete Boone To Resign: 'You're Not Far Off,' Departing Coach Promises Ole Miss

Pete Boone's third failed coaching tenure will officially be his last at the University of Mississippi. After an adversarial relationship with David Cutcliffe (the program's most consistent coach in three decades) ended in a hast firing, and despite weathering the entirety of the Ed Orgeron debacle, the stunningly schizoid run of Houston Nutt at Ole Miss was given an official expiration date on Monday, and Boone along with it.

The Rebels fired their third football coach since 2004 on Monday. This time the administration's trigger man, known to have had stilted relationships with all three men, overshadowed a head football coach's dismissal. Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones announced that Boone would step down as athletic director, but would stay up until but not exceeding December 2012. The timetable move is assumed to appease fans frustrated with the overall malaise of the Rebels' "Big Three" sports (a glut we outlined earlier today) while still standing tough against the "Forward Rebels" campaign that has dogged Jones and Boone through various newspaper ads and media outlets. Jones, still young in his tenure as Chancellor, likely wants to send a message that he won't be bullied

Sources have told that it's highly unlikely Boone will stay on until December 2012, and that a replacement will likely be named by next summer. Boone is the chair of the SEC athletic director's association and will see out the remainder of the 2011-'12 academic year.

Jones also announced that Boone will not be involved in the search for a new Rebel coach (Boone famously declared that Nutt would be his "last head coaching hire" in December of 2007), and that a committee co-chaired by former Ole Miss player Archie Manning and FedEx Executive Vice President Mike Glenn. Jones also confirmed that the same committee would chair a search for a new athletic director. Jones said that Manning and Glenn had yet to meet regarding the matter.

When questioned, Jones also responded to the other most notable topic surrounding Ole Miss: the continued controversy among a vocal group of fans and alumni regarding the replacement of the schools' Colonel Rebel on-field mascot with the Mississippi Black Bear. Jones slammed the dissent by stating that "schools with a pig and a chicken for mascots have had plenty of success," and remained steadfast in supporting the student-led vote for the black bear.

As for Nutt, the lame duck coach seemed shaken at first while addressing the media, but quickly launched into trademark proselytizing. He cited Ole Miss' location relative to other SEC schools as a hindrance to recruiting (a fact he used to highlight the school's potential when he was hired in '07) and various injuries (most notably linebacker D.T. Shackelford this spring) and recruiting misfires as a reason for his 6-14 record the last two seasons. Nutt also told the media "you're not far off" repeatedly, in reference to the talent recruited to Ole Miss in Nutt's last two signing classes.

How Ole Miss handles the two-fold hiring process will define the long-term future of the university's athletic identity. Despite the on-field implosion under Nutt since last season, money has poured into the "Forward Together" capital campaign (unofficially titled to respond to dissent groups like "Forward Rebels"), created to address building a brand new basketball arena and bowling in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, among other projects.

In a bizarre turn, Nutt inadvertently endorsed the fund raising efforts when he acknowledged that a program the size and funding of Ole Miss' created a challenge competing in the SEC. "It's like fighting giants out there sometime. Do you think Florida likes having four losses? Do you think Tennessee does? They're going to do everything they can to get better."

Nutt will coach the final three games of Ole Miss' season: this Saturday's homecoming against Louisiana Tech, November 19 hosting undefeated LSU, and the season finale at Mississippi State November 26.

For more on Houston Nutt, Pete Boone and the living, breathing Southern Gothic drama that is Ole Miss, visit Red Cup Rebellion.


Houston Nutt Fired: Ole Miss Confirms Exit, Pete Boone Stepping Down Too

As reported by SB Nation's Steven Godfrey, the Mississippi Rebels have announced football coach Houston Nutt will not remain as head coach beyond the 2011 season. Nutt will remain through the end of the year before stepping down. There's no word yet on his replacement, though Bruce Feldman has reported a committee of Archie Manning's will be in charge of the search.

Nutt commented on his impending exit:

My time at Ole Miss has been very special, and I've enjoyed working with a wonderful group of athletes and the Ole Miss community at large. Change is never easy, but I understand why it's necessary. My attention is on finishing out the 2011 season and winning this Saturday.

Athletic director Pete Boone announced he'll step down at some point within the next year, though the date for his resignation isn't quite as clear.

When Coach Nutt arrived four years ago, I said publicly he would be the last coach I would hire. I meant it. On several occasions over the past year, Chancellor Jones and I have discussed what would happen if a disappointing football season resulted in a coaching change, including whether a change would affect my timetable as athletics director. When I decided we need new leadership in the football program, I knew it was also the right time for new leadership in the athletics department."

For more on Ole Miss, visit Red Cup Rebellion.


Pete Boone To Step Down As Ole Miss Athletic Director

Embattled University of Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone will step down along with head football coach Houston Nutt this afternoon.

Sources confirmed that Boone's role in the search for Ole Miss' next head coach as well as the rest of his duties will either be "reduced or eliminated entirely." Boone has been athletic director at Ole Miss for 13 years, and with Nutt's expected firing today, has overseen the dismissal of three head football coaches (David Cutcliffe, Ed Orgeron) since 2004.

Boone has been the No. 1, and, at times, sole target of the "Forward Rebels" campaign, set up by fans and alumni of Ole Miss to demand a change in the athletic department's management. Ole Miss holds several dubious distinctions in the SEC's three largest revenue generating sports: the Rebels have never played in the SEC Championship game in football (the only SEC Western Division team not to), its baseball team has not reached the College World Series since 1972 despite numerous upgrades to its stadium and facilities, and has the conference's longest NCAA Tournament drought of any mens basketball team (2002).

Several reports have claimed that former Ole Miss football player and CBS analyst Archie Manning will help conduct the search for the Rebels' next head football coach.

The Ole Miss press conference will stream live at Rebel Vision at 3 p.m. ET today.

For more on Ole Miss, visit Red Cup Rebellion.


Houston Nutt Not Fired Yet, But Possibly Because Pete Boone's Job Is In Jeopardy, Too

Reports of a 10 a.m. CT press conference in Oxford, Mississippi, to announce, well, anything regarding the future of Ole Miss' football program are untrue. However, rumors swirl that Rebels head coach Houston Nutt has or will be fired following Ole Miss' 30-13 loss to Kentucky on Saturday.

Nutt's future might actually be of secondary concern in Oxford: The rise of "Forward Rebels," a group of self-described concerned fans and alumni, has put pressure on University of Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone to step down, with multiple newspaper advertisements and media appearances beginning after the 2010-'11 athletic season yielded no postseason appearances in the Rebels' three largest revenue generating sports, football, basketball and baseball.

"If [Boone's] job wasn't in question as well, we would probably have seen a decision on Nutt made by now," said one source inside the University of Mississippi Athletic Department.

The loss to the Wildcats Saturday was the program's 12th consecutive in the conference dating back to last season, when Nutt followed two nine-win seasons at Ole Miss by with an overtime loss at home to FCS opponent Jacksonville State in the season opener. Ole Miss is currently 2-7 (0-6 SEC). In the program's 120 year history, Ole Miss has never suffered ten losses in a single season.

For more on Ole Miss, visit Red Cup Rebellion.


Jerrell Powe's Forward Rebels Letter On AD Pete Boone: Ole Miss 'Can Do Better'

Mississippi Rebels fans aren't happy with athletic director Pete Boone. This may have become obvious to you at some point. Now former Ole Miss players are joining in -- Jerrell Powe, a former defensive tackle now with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Powe was a five-star recruit who chose Ole Miss over Auburn and LSU, but spent years in prep schools before finally being admitted to play. He became a starter and was picked in the sixth round. Here's the text of his letter to Forward Rebels, an Ole Miss fan group that concerns itself with Boone's eventual replacement, in which Powe alleges Boone "discouraged" him during his academic "struggle."

Dear Ole Miss Friends:

Today, I am a Forward Rebel.

I have struggled for years about whether to take a stand against some of the problems at Ole Miss, and those things have been easier to put aside while playing in the NFL. But, now that thousands are finally speaking up, I am encouraged to state the truth.

Ole Miss Athletics can do better. As you all know, I worked for several years just to be able to be an Ole Miss Rebel, and I was driven by my two dreams: to play in the NFL and to get an education. I've achieved the first goal, and I plan on coming back and working to finish my degree during my off-seasons. During my struggle, many people encouraged me, and many people from Ole Miss were instrumental in my admission and career. Some were not.

Throughout my two and a half year fight to go to college, one voice of encouragement was noticeably missing, and that voice was Athletic Director Pete Boone's. While you would think that Mr. Boone would want me to go to school, and even more to play for Ole Miss, he was, if anything, discouraging to me during my struggle. Although many are familiar with Mr. Boone's desire to keep me out, I have held it back for a while.

But, now is the time to speak, and I am excited that Ole Miss fans are finally calling for change. Although I have a personal story to share here, Ole miss is personal to all of our fans, and I hope that Ole Miss will step up and go get that national candidate who can lead Ole Miss out of the past and into the future.

It's Time!


Jerrell Powe

For more, visit Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion.


Ole Miss Chancellor Responds To Cries For Pete Boone's Job

Mississippi Rebels fans are unhappy with athletic director Pete Boone, and are making that information widely available. Five and likely six losing football seasons in eight years will do that to a fan base. Plus Ole Miss is probably bad at some other sports too, which doesn't help. They're probably really good at some, too. Look on the bright side, y'all.

Chancellor Dan Jones sent a letter to the school's athletic association members, which Red Cup Rebeliion shared and which maintains the verbose tradition that has been established as the preferred style in this debate:

Many are aware of anonymous, malicious and public attacks on athletics director Pete Boone. The Ole Miss family may not be aware, however, that as a part of this orchestrated campaign, I have received threats, promising that if I do not remove Pete Boone, "It is going to get real ugly," and threatening to expand the attacks to other athletics employees.

Friends, supporters and the media have asked how I will react to this anonymous and vicious pressure. The short answer is that I will not react.

To maintain accreditation, the university must remain "free from undue influence from political, religious and other external bodies." I would be less than the chancellor Ole Miss needs if I reacted to these polarizing tactics employed by anonymous critics. To do so would not only threaten the university's accreditation, but it also would impair future university leaders by encouraging others to use such tactics to achieve personal, political or unsavory agendas or to harm the university.

As a university, we are committed to excellence in all things-including athletics. I regularly review the performance of all those who report to me, including Mr. Boone. But I cannot and will not engage in any sort of review in response to a public campaign to force his removal.

That's only about half of it. William Faulkner was from Oxford. Everybody in Oxford just kind of writes and writes and writes, apparently.

For more, visit Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion.

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