Q & A with Sports Illustrated's Bruce Feldman on Ole Miss, Memphis Football

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - College football season is almost back, and the storylines are already heating up.

One of the biggest coming from right down the road in Oxford, where Hugh Freeze is no longer the head coach of the Rebels. He resigned on Thursday after being found in violation of the school's personal conduct rules which includes phone records proving he called an escort service.

Back in Memphis, the headlines are much more positive. The Memphis Tigers right now are now projected to win the AAC West.

Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated's college football reporter Bruce Feldman spoke with WMC to discuss who could potentially replace Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss and what to expect from the Memphis Tigers in 2017.

Q: Obviously Freeze is out and offensive line coach Matt Luke has been bumped up to interim head coach. Unless Luke exceeds expectations, Ole Miss A.D. Ross Bjork is most likely going to go find someone else to replace Freeze permanently. You hear names like Chip Kelly and Lane Kiffin, but who are some realistic names Ole Miss should expect to be in it for?

A: "I think it's crazy for people to think Chip Kelly would actually even consider this. Anyone who's throwing Lane Kiffin's name in there is just kidding themselves and doing it for laughs. Realistically, I actually think Matt Luke would have a good shot to keep the job. He's a David Cutcliffe guy. He's very well regarded. He loves that school. He was obviously a walk on there. If he gets them to seven wins this year, I think that given all the chaos around the program and given all they've been through, that would really impress the administration. If not him, I think Frank Wilson has a good year at UTSA. He's a former Ole Miss assistant. Had a good year last year. Maybe they could convince Mike Norvell at Memphis to look hard at the job. The other guys I think are probably more realistic shots for them would be Neal Brown, who's at Troy. He won 10 games last year. He actually was hired by John Hartwell who was a former Ole Miss assistant A.D., and Scott Satterfield who's at Appalachian State who's highly regarded."

Q: Bruce the sentiment around Oxford right now is that now Freeze is gone the NCAA will be a little easier on Ole Miss as it awaits penalties for NCAA violations. Do you think Freeze being gone will result in a less harsh outcome from the NCAA?

A: "It could. He's not going to be there. I think when the administration sits down with the committee on infractions I think they can outline exactly what was on Hugh Freeze and what wasn't.  Now they've already done a lot of that, but still. I think it certainly doesn't hurt that Freeze isn't there. My guess is they're going to lose more scholarships than what they've self-sanctioned either way."

Q: Here in Memphis the Tigers are getting set for what many are predicting to be a big season. There's been talk of them winning the conference and potentially getting themselves into a New Year's 6 Bowl. What are your thoughts on the Tigers for the upcoming season?

A: "I'm really excited to see what (Mike) Norvell is going to do now. Riley Ferguson I think is primed for a big year. When I talked to Mike a month or so ago he was really excited about the direction of things. That program really has a chance to get on people's national radar. They have some games where I think they can make some noise. It's just kind of really impressive to see how far that program has come first with (Justin) Fuente and obviously now with Mike Norvell. I think the big key thing is, and I know they've redone his deal, but to try to make sure that you can keep a guy like that. He's not gonna jump and you're in that same mode as a Houston or even an Arkansas State where you get good coaches. They do well, but you can't keep them."

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