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Mississippi Fires Football Coach Cutcliffe

December 1, 2004

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe was fired Wednesday after his first losing season in six years with the Rebels, a source close to the football program told The Associated Press.

Ole Miss had an afternoon news conference scheduled. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was to announce the firing.

Cutcliffe was 44-29 in six seasons at Ole Miss, 25-23 in the Southeastern Conference, and just a season removed from going 10-3 season and finishing tied for first in the SEC West with Eli Manning at quarterback.

But without the first pick in the NFL draft Ole Miss slipped to 4-7, its worst season in 10 years. The Rebels were 3-5 in the SEC and lost four games by a total of 19 points.

Cutcliffe, the former offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Tennessee, had been criticized for his handling of the quarterback position this season.

Micheal Spurlock was the starter at the beginning of the season, but was benched midway through the second game for Ethan Flatt.

Flatt started the Rebels’ next nine games. Midway through the season, Cutcliffe switched to a three-quarterback rotation with redshirt freshman Robert Lane entering the mix.

It worked well in a 31-28 victory over then-No. 25 South Carolina. But Ole Miss then lost four straight, including three to ranked teams.

Cutcliffe met with chancellor Robert Khayat and athletic director Pete Boone earlier this week after the Rebels completed the season by beating rival Mississippi State 20-3 last Saturday.

Cutcliffe was the only coach in school history to win at least seven games in his first five years.

After last season’s success, his contract was extended. He has three years remaining on a deal that pays about $1.2 million annually, including perks and bonuses.

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