Before we dive into realistic candidates to replace Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, these questions must first be answered:

1. What kind of shape is the program going to be in for the new coach? If the NCAA tacks on another postseason ban in 2018, that impacts the list of candidates and perhaps the compensation. And if indeed there is a two-year ban, does NCAA allow current Ole Miss players to transfer without penalty? That would seem to be the fair thing to do.

Then there is the consideration whether Ole Miss' self-imposed 11 scholarships over four years is enough. A two-year bowl ban, essentially free agency for the existing roster and an added scholarship hit would be a worse-case scenario -- but not out of the question.

Yes, the likes of Les Miles would more than happy to take over. And at that point, he might be the best choice -- sort of a bridge to the next coach while Ole Miss wades through the penalties.

2. How much is Ole Miss willing to spend/overpay? Freeze and his lawyers walked away from an estimated $15 million (in salary and buyout) without a peep. Exactly what did those phone records for that to happen? Ostensibly, that's $15 million Ole Miss has sitting around to spend on the next guy. But consider the school is in this situation because it went all in on Freeze.

You better believe the whale boosters who fund Ole Miss football are going to be asking tough questions about how their money is being spent going forward. Freeze created the momentum for an infrastructure boom in Ole Miss athletics. But his conduct may force the administration to be more fiscally conservative on the next guy.

Let's assume the new coach is going to need a six-year contract. The assumption being it will take at least that long to clean up the mess. One problem: State law limits contracts for state employees to four years. The administration can promise a series of rollovers, but does that state law further limit the pool of candidates?

Based on all that, here is one thinking man's guide to Freeze's eventual replacement.

Five longshots

  • Blake Anderson, Arkansas State: A good coach but his similarity to the last guy might hurt. Look what happened to the last Ole Miss coach to cut his coaching teeth in Jonesboro.
  • Todd Graham, Arizona State: Might be coming to Ole Miss off consecutive losing seasons. Job-hopping reputation has been mitigated after staying six years at ASU.
  • Rich Rodriguez, Arizona: Like Graham, would be damaged goods if he gets fired at Arizona.
  • Lane Kiffin, FAU: As one insider put it, "Lane Kiffin is crazy. It's the same reason they don't give guns to monkeys."
  • Chip Kelly, TV analyst: Just, no. Stop.