Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin continues to strengthen his staff, officially announcing three new hires on Wednesday.
Maurice Crum has been named co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, while Marty Biagi joins the Rebels as special teams coordinator. On the team administration front, Austin Thomas has been added as football chief of staff.
In addition, tight ends coach John David Baker, who served as the Rebels’ passing game coordinator last season, has been elevated to co-offensive coordinator.
Crum comes to Oxford after five seasons at Western Kentucky, including the 2021 campaign in which he served as defensive coordinator for the Hilltoppers. Crum’s WKU defense held opponents to 21 points or less in seven of their last eight regular season games last season. Western Kentucky finished third in Conference USA with 2.57 sacks per game.
As the Hilltoppers’ co-DC and linebackers coach in 2020, Crum helped the WKU defense rank eighth in pass yards allowed (177.3), 28th in total yards allowed (348.7) and 41st in points allowed (25.3) per game. Crum served as linebackers coach for three seasons (2017-19) when he first arrived in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Prior to WKU, Crum spent the 2016 season at Indiana State coaching corners and nickelbacks. Crum served as defensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 2015, which included an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Crum got his college coaching career started with three seasons on Charlie Weis’ staff at Kansas, in various roles, including defensive graduate assistant (2012), Assistant Director of Operations (2013) and Director of High School Relations (2014).
During his playing career, Crum played in 50 games with 42 consecutive starts and registered 306 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and eight sacks. His 306 career tackles rank 11th in Notre Dame history. A two-time team captain in 2007 and 2008, Crum was one of only 17 players in school history to accomplish that feat.
Biagi, a two-time finalist for Football Scoop’s Special Teams Coordinator of the Year, joins the Rebels after two seasons at Purdue, serving in the same capacity for the Boilermakers. In 2021, Purdue’s Mitchell Fineran was 24-of-29 in field goal attempts, including a perfect 4-for-4 and the game-winner in the Boilermakers’ Music City Bowl win over Tennessee.
Biagi joined the Purdue staff after spending the previous three seasons in a similar capacity at North Texas. The Mean Green scored six special teams touchdowns, blocked nine punts, four kicks and had 10 players recognized with All-Conference USA accolades during Biagi’s tenure. Biagi’s special teams unit at UNT finished in the top 20 in the Football Bowl Division in blocked kicks/punts all three seasons in Denton, tying for 11th in 2017 (4), for 19th in 2018 (3) and for sixth in 2019 (4).
Biagi spent one season (2016) as a special teams analyst at Notre Dame. The Fighting averaged 23.1 yards per kickoff return (27th nationally) and returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns. Prior to his lone season in South Bend, Biagi spent 2015 as the cornerbacks coach at South Dakota.
A native of Shelbyville, Kentucky, Biagi was a punter and placekicker at Marshall. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2008.
Thomas, who has two previous stints on Kiffin staffs, will oversee the day-to-day operations of Ole Miss’ player personnel, recruiting, performance analytics, academic support and other areas.
A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Thomas comes to Oxford from LSU where he served as general manager for the Tigers. It marked his second stay in Baton Rouge after also working on staff from 2013-17. In 2016, he was named the first general manager in the history of the Southeastern Conference and was one of only two with that title in college football.
In his first two seasons at LSU, Thomas helped the Tigers claim back-to-back top-five signing classes and played a key role in the construction of the roster that won the 2019 National Championship. He was named the Personnel Director of the Year in 2015 and a finalist for the award in 2014.
Thomas served as the associate athletic director for football personnel at Texas A&M for two years during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He spent the 2020 season as senior associate athletic director for football at Baylor, where he was tasked with overseeing all football related activities for the Bears.
Considered one of the top off the field professionals in all of college football, Thomas spent multiple seasons on Kiffin’s staff in off-the-field roles at both USC and Tennessee. Thomas served as a defensive quality control coach for Kiffin in Knoxville in 2009, followed by a two-year stay at USC as the Trojans’ assistant director of player personnel from 2011-2013.
Baker just wrapped up his first season at Ole Miss as the Rebels’ passing game coordinator and tight ends coach. Baker, who was named to 247Sports’ 30Under30 in 2020, previously served as tight ends coach at USC in 2020 and as an offensive quality control analyst for the Trojans in 2019.
The San Angelo, Texas, native was an offensive quality control coach at North Texas for three seasons (2016-18). In 2018, UNT ranked No. 12 in passing (306.8), No. 20 in total offense (460.5) and No. 26 in scoring (34.6). Wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. hauled in 68 passes for 1,017 yards with 12 TDs and running back DeAndre Torrey tallied 15 TDs on the ground.
North Texas ranked No. 19 nationally in scoring (35.5), No. 21 in passing (291.9) and No. 24 in total offense (455.1) in 2017. Quarterback Mason Fine set school season records for passing yards (4,052) and touchdowns (31).
Baker played quarterback for four seasons (2010-13) at Abilene Christian. As a senior in 2013, Baker completed 247-of-369 passes (66.9%) for 3,376 yards and 35 TDs, with just five interceptions. Baker also rushed for 256 yards and five TDs. His 40 total TDs were a school record. In his first career start, he threw for a school-record seven touchdowns against Concordia College.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports