David Cutcliffe, an assistant for 16 years at Tennessee, became Mississippi's new football coach Wednesday.
Cutcliffe was introduced just four days after Tommy Tuberville left to become Auburn's coach and four years to the date after Tuberville took over the Rebels.
This is the first head coaching job for the 44-year-old Cutcliffe, who has been the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee since 1992. He had been on the Volunteers staff since 1982.
"I know David's ready," Fulmer said Tuesday. "He's certainly deserving of the opportunity. Personally my feelings are very mixed. He's probably my best friend. I would miss him, but I would feel proud for him."
Cutcliffe was also a finalist to become the new coach at Middle Tennessee State, which is making the transition to NCAA Division I-A.
In 1996, Cutcliffe was a finalist for the head coaching job at Kentucky that went to Hal Mumme. Last year, Alabama coach Mike DuBose tried to convince Cutcliffe to be the offensive coordinator at his alma mater.
Cutcliffe was among three candidates interviewed for the Ole Miss job.
SMU coach Mike Cavan and former Texas Christian coach Pat Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn, both confirmed that they interviewed with Ole Miss athletic director John Shafer and Chancellor Robert Khayat.
While his college playing career was ended by an injury, Cutcliffe graduated from Alabama in 1976. Fresh out of college, he spent six years as a coach at Banks High School in Birmingham, Ala., posting a 17-4-1 record as head coach the last two seasons.
Cutcliffe i expected to remain with Tennessee (11-0) for Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Saturday, but his role for any bowl game with Tennessee was uncertain.
Cutcliffe could end up coaching a bowl game at Ole Miss (6-5), which is eligible for the postseason. While the Rebels are not likely to get an at-large berth, the SEC could get two teams in the Bowl Championship Series.
Cutcliffe is likely to get a four-year deal and make $400,000 to $500,000 annually, which is in the same range as the contract Tuberville had.
Despite inheriting two years of NCAA probation, Tuberville had a 25-20 record with three winning seasons and a bowl victory in his four years at Ole Miss.
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