June 1, 2016
Anyone who keeps close tabs on the NFL knows that on Friday afternoons it's worth paying attention to press releases. The league has become masterful at dropping news late on Friday afternoons when most people have turned their attention to the weekend.
The http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/15766359/ole-miss-self-imposes-double-digit-reduction-football-scholarships">University of Mississippi used a similar approach last Friday. Before the holiday weekend, UM released its response to a NCAA notice of allegations, using Memorial Day weekend and the dumpster fire that is Baylor University football as cover to quietly put out its report. In that 154-page response, the university self-imposed 11 total scholarships in football over the next four years.
The school also asked for a delay on a scheduled hearing with the Committee on Infractions until it could fully investigate the Laremy Tunsil draft-night fallout. UM is scheduled to meet with the COI this summer.
Of the 13 allegations the NCAA has leveled against the school, nine came under the watch of current head coach Hugh Freeze. Four of those allegations are Level I violations (the most severe), two are Level II violations and three are Level III violations.
On Monday, http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/15848953/ole-miss-rebels-coach-hugh-freeze-accepts-responsibility-program-troubles-denies-knowingly-violating-rules">Freeze began damage control as he defended his program. Freeze said he takes full responsibility for the violations and then said the violations were more about mistakes made than an effort to cheat.
The head coach zealously denied that he or anyone on his staff had knowingly violated rules. In an ESPN story, Freeze said, “There’s a big difference between making mistakes in recruiting and going out there with the intent to cheat."
Freeze knows, like any coach, that it is important to win the court of public opinion. He is also trying to http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/ole-miss-football/paul-finebaum-makes-strong-statements-regarding-ole-misshugh-freeze/">repair his reputation. Freeze was quick to point out that several of the violations linked back to former coach Houston Nutt.
UM is hoping that https://www.seccountry.com/mississippi/deny-deny-deny-hugh-freeze-is-fighting-a-pointless-battle-for-ole-miss">suspending a couple of assistant coaches from recruiting for a month, the loss on scholarships and disassociation with boosters will keep the NCAA at bay. The organization could take all of the Rebels self-imposed punishments and call it a day.
It is highly unlikely that the NCAA won't add to the Rebels punishment. Also, it seems like Freeze and the university aren’t “owning” their violations by trying to point out Nutt's complicity at every chance.
Freeze and the Rebels still have to deal with the Tunsil draft-night fiasco, and the NCAA could reopen its investigation. This is not a simple as Freeze is trying to pin the worst parts on past coaching staff.
There have been rumblings about how Freeze and his coaches recruited since his highly regarded draft class of 2013. Freeze tried then to play off those rumblings as ranting from haters.
Now, it seems the haters were right, and Freeze is trying to hand at deflection. If even more comes out after the Tunsil draft night, it might be time for a coaching change in Oxford.
The NCAA would be wise to listen to Freeze trying to deflect what he and his staff have gone and brought the hammer down accordingly to make him sure he knows that those “mistakes” were actually “cheating.”