Personality clash led to Cutcliffe’s removal

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

A conflict of personalities between fired Ole Miss head footballcoach David Cutcliffe and Ole Miss athletic director Pete Booneapparently contributed heavily to the firing of Cutcliffe. Areaalumni and supporters of the Rebels voiced their opinion on thesubject.

“It appeared to me to be some internal conflicts with CoachCutcliffe and his boss, Pete Boone,” said Richard Furr.

“Although the performance on the field was not good, I thinktheir relationship was not very good for several years. (Ole Misschancellor) Dr. Khayat had to make a decision regarding this.”

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Furr said he had the utmost respect for Cutcliffe. “I’ve metCoach Cutcliffe several times. He is an outstanding individual. Ithink he’s leaving Ole Miss a lot better than what he foundit.”

Furr, city president of State Bank & Trust Co., has been aseason football ticket holder for 10 years. “My daughter (Abby) isa cheerleader at Ole Miss so I’m going to go and support her, evenif we are 1-10 or 10-0.

“After she graduates next year, we will continue to contributeto the Loyalty Foundation and purchase season tickets.”

Several names have been mentioned as replacements. Among the topcandidates are Bobby Pertrino of Louisville and Tommy West ofMemphis.

“I do think Pete Boone needs to hit a home run with his nexthire,” said Furr. “He was involved in that mascot controversy andhe bungled the Cotton Bowl tickets.”

Boone came under fire for doing away with the Colonel Rebelimage projected by the team mascots. He wanted the mascot to bemore modern instead of old plantation owner stigma.

“I think Boone needs to go with him,” said W.L. Rayborn. “He’sthe reason we haven’t had a mascot in two years.”

Rayborn, a former state senator, said Cutcliffe was a goodquarterback coach at Tennessee, his former place of employment.

“Going to see Ole Miss over the years, it seemed like the teamwasn’t ready to play,” said Rayborn. “They usually got behind 14-0in the first quarter. You can’t do that against teams like Alabamaand Auburn.”

Michael Spurlock, the projected quarterback last spring, failedmiserably during his opportunity to start the season as the No. 1signal caller. Cutcliffe shuffled three quarterbacks thisseason.

“Cutcliffe should have known that Spurlock was too short to be aquarterback in the SEC,” said Rayborn. “Spurlock is a good athleteand could have played some other position.

“We had a good offensive line but our running backs couldn’tgain six inches when it counted. Something was wrong.”

Rayborn said the dismissal could hurt recruiting. “They did this(firing) pretty late. I hope they can find a good replacement.”

Rayborn has been a season ticket holder since 1960. He had fivetickets to every home game this season, but due to open heartsurgery, missed all of them except the season-ending Egg Bowl, aRebel win over archrival Mississippi State.

Richard Barker, local Ole Miss alumni chapter president for Pikeand Lincoln County, said Cutcliffe’s dismissal was unfortunate. “Ihated to see it happen.

“We have to respect the decisions they make up there,” he added.”I’m concerned about the recruiting.”

Barker said Cutcliffe “did a fine job as a coach. There are somethings that everybody likes and dislikes about him. He was a reallygood guy and the players respected him.”