Ole Miss to interview South Alabama's Pelphrey

Updated: March 21, 2006, 11:58 PM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

University of Mississippi officials are expected to be in Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday to interview South Alabama coach John Pelphrey about their vacant head coaching job, according to a source close to the process.

Pelphrey, Murray State coach Mick Cronin and Cincinnati interim head coach Andy Kennedy are believed to be the leading candidates for the Ole Miss job, which came open when the school fired Rod Barnes. Ole Miss assistant coach Tracy Dildy has also been reported as a finalist for the job by the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

Cronin could get an interview later this week, according to another source with knowledge of the search. Kennedy is expected to interview with Ole Miss representatives late this week in Cincinnati, although Bearcats remain active in the NIT, which might complicate things.

Pelphrey took South Alabama to the Sun Belt tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament this season. The Jaguars lost in the first round to Florida, where Pelphrey was an assistant coach under Billy Donovan. South Alabama athletic director Joe Gottfried previously told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that he will do everything in his power to keep Pelphrey at USA.

Cronin's Murray State Racers also made the NCAA Tournament and took defending national champion North Carolina inside the final minute before losing. The former assistant to Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and Rick Pitino at Louisville has made two NCAA appearances in three years as a head coach. Cronin is also believed to be a candidate at Cincinnati, if the school does not hire Kennedy on a full-time basis.

Kennedy, a former Mississippi Gulf Coast high school sensation, was an assistant at his alma mater, UAB, and at Cincinnati before being elevated to interim coach when the school dismissed Huggins last summer. Kennedy still has not been given any indication by the school whether he will be retained as the full-time coach.

An on-campus interview would figure to be a logical follow-up for one or more candidates, but Ole Miss' timetable for making a hire has not been made clear.

ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz contributed to this report.