Who will lead the gridiron Rebels?: Indianola’s Richard Noble once helped with that decision

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

The Egg Bowl has led to plenty of great memories but lately it’s more about the lack of decorum, the nonexistence of discipline and those ingredients have cost coaches their livelihood. With the latest casualty being Matt Luke, the Rebels are now looking for their 38th head coach in their 126-year football history.

While everyone has an idea of the perfect coach - for me that would be former Rebel quarterback Kent Austin - only a few get to help make that decision.

In 2011, Indianola attorney Richard Noble, a 1968 alum and 1973 Ole Miss Law School Grad was serving as president of the Alumni Association for the Rebels.

He got to sit with Archie Manning and others on the search committee and decide on who would become the new athletic director and head football coach. Noble’s love for the Rebels was prevalent in our phone conversation earlier this week.

But a non-disclosure agreement keeps the meat of the content of those meetings shut down to those outside the room. He did answer a few broad questions about the process and his involvement.

“I served on the search committee but we also hired a search firm to vet all the applicants,” Noble said. “That was when we hired Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork.”

With Archie Manning chairing the committee, Noble was chosen to be part of it as president of the Alumni Association.

“There were six members on the committee at that time. It may be entirely different now. The committee came from the chancellor’s office back then,” he said. “In 2012, a national search firm received all the applications and made all the inquiries and once all the applications were received the committee went through most if not all of them and got recommendations from here, there and yonder. The search firm did the heavy lifting because we had a lot of applicants back in 2012. It took about six weeks for us to do our stuff. I think they are going to be pretty quick this time.”

None of the applicants contacted Noble but had to go through the search firm.

“That’s what you hire them for. They do all the talking and bring the candidates resumes and we pared them down and bring them in for live interviews and hire the best one you think. That’s how we did it back then but I don’t think they are going to do it that way this time. They haven’t named a search committee. The athletic director has hired a search firm and I think between them, that’s the most expeditious way to do it.”

I asked him if there were any names he thought should have been on the 2012 list but that question was too specific for the NDA.

“We were sworn to confidentiality on the specifics but back then we hired the right guy in Hugh Freeze,” Noble said.

The NCAA sanctions hurt the Ole Miss program for several years as the punishment didn’t quite fit the crime when compared to other programs with similar infractions, according to Noble.

“The NCAA thing was over the top as far as I was concerned. You look at other schools, Memphis State gets caught paying parents to come live in Memphis and they get 12 games. What’s fair when it comes to the NCAA. We got reamed, steamed and dry cleaned and that’s hurt Ole Miss more than Hugh Freeze leaving or Matt Luke. We took it on the chin for about five years.”

With a new man in the Lyceum in Chancellor Glenn Boyce and a new athletic director in Keith Carter, Noble feels our alma mater is not treading water but looking to rebuild the right way.

“If we can get this right hire here and Keith Carter – I’ve known Keith for a number of years and I think he’s got the wherewithal and disposition and if he hires some good people around him, he’ll do a great job. Boyce is a top-notch educator and knows Ole Miss and the IHL – he’s definitely the right guy.”

Noble’s look into the near future for the University of Mississippi is a good one.

“Ole Miss is going to be fine.”

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