2. Chris Beard – Ole Miss
Instead of dotting on about Ole Miss, let’s focus on the elephant in the room. Beard has had no shortage of drama in recent months after he was fired by Texas after a domestic violence incident. No charges were pressed and the Rebels pursued him, hoping to reenergize a program that finished under .500 the last two seasons and have been an afterthought in the SEC for the most part.
Long before the issues in Austin, Beard had established himself as a fantastic coach in this sport. He bounced around at a number of colleges and Ole Miss marks his eighth had coaching gig at the college level. There was junior college success, a 30-win season at Little Rock, and a shocking run to the national title game at Texas Tech. He built the Texas team that advanced to the Elite Eight last season before his untimely departure.
The Rebels’ 13-0 start to this season certainly got people excited even if it wasn’t the most impressive run of nonconference games. Ole Miss has been significantly tested in conference play, but still sit at 16-3 and 3-3 against their SEC foes. They’ve won all their games at home and have looked much more cohesive than in seasons past. Can Beard actually rewrite the record books at a second school?