Sports With Walter Moore

Ole Miss Hires McGriff As Defensive Coordinator


On December 16, 2016, University of Mississippi head football coach High Freeze hired Wesley McGriff as his defensive coordinator.

McGriff, who is known around the country as a defensive guru and a dynamic recruiter, comes to Ole Miss after spending the past year at Auburn where he served as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

This will be Mc- Griff’s second go round at Ole Miss, having spent the 2012 season as the Rebels co-defensive coordinator/ cornerbacks coach.

McGriff, who will turn 49 on January 23, got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Savannah State, as a graduate assistant, where he coached the Tigers’ running backs in 1990 before moving into a fulltime role as secondary coach in 1991-92. He then served as Savannah State’s defensive coordinator in 1993- 94, and he was the team’s interim head coach for three months in spring 1993.

In addition, he was Savannah State’s head baseball coach from 1991- 95, winning two conference championships and being named conference Coach of the Year twice.

A native of Tifton, Ga., McGriff played cornerback, running back and wide receiver for the Tift County High School state championship team. He played at South Carolina State for one year before transferring to Savannah State, where he started at outside linebacker for three seasons.

In his first year with the team in 1987, he led the Tigers in tackles (82) and sacks (10). He was named the conference’s 1989 Male Academic Athlete of the Year. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Savannah State in 1990 and graduated cum laude. In 1993, he earned a master’s in public administration from Georgia Southern, graduating with distinction. McGriff was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1990

and was a member of the Army Reserves until 2001.

From 1995-99, McGriff served as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kentucky State. The Thorobreds had the No. 1 defense in the nation in 1995 and the No. 1 pass yardage defense in 1997. He was named the AFCA’s NCAA Division II National Assistant Coach of the Year in 1998.

After leaving KSU, McGriff worked at Eastern Kentucky (2000) as the secondary coach, Kentucky (2001-02) as the running back and cornerback coach, Baylor (2003-06) as the recruiting coordinator and defensive , Miami, Fla. (2007-10) as defensive back coach, and Vanderbilt (2011) as defensive back coach and recruiting coordinator.

McGriff spent three seasons (2013-15) with the New Orleans Saints before taking the job at Auburn.

Wherever McGriff has coached, teams showed improvement.

Baylor’s defense notched 16 interceptions and ranked 13th in pass efficiency in 2005; in 2010, Miami ranked second in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 164.3 yards per game; McGriff helped Vanderbilt to only their fifth all-time appearance in a bowl; as a member of Hugh Freeze’s first Ole Miss staff, McGriff helped the rebels go from 2-10 the year before to 7-6 and a win over Pitt in the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl; in his first season in New Orleans, the Saints ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (305.7 ypg), second in opponent passing yards per game (194.1 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (19.0 ppg), posting an 11-5 record and advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs; and in his one season at Auburn, McGriff helped guide the Tigers to a Sugar Bowl berth and helped turn around a defense that struggled during a 7-6 season the year before he arrived.

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