Hugh Freeze out at Ole Miss for wrong reasons — but at least he’s out

Former Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze speaks during the Southeastern Conference’s annual media gathering, Thursday, July 13, in Hoover, Ala. (AP photo)

Hugh Freeze is out of a job. Just not for the right reasons.

It’s not because of the 21 NCAA allegations of misconduct against current or former member of the football coaching staff, which he oversees. It’s not because of alleged cash payments of $13,000 to $15,000 from boosters to players or the NCAA’s charge of “lack of institutional control” of the program. It’s not because Ole Miss created a false narrative by trying to pin all of the problems on former coach Houston Nutt.

Why is Freeze out of a job? Because he phoned an escort service. Probably more than once. Probably more than phoned. Whatever.

Strange how the karma train catches up to people at some point.

Bobby Petrino falls off a motorcycle with a girl on the back and his world crumbled. Hugh Freeze denies left and right to the media and the NCAA that he did anything wrong. But in the administration’s transparent attempt to protect their highly successful football coach, they initially deny wrongdoing, then reportedly claim in conversations with selected media members that most infractions occurred in the previous regime under Nutt, then are found to be liars about pretty much everything when the the NCAA investigation is released.

It all caught up to Freeze and Ole Miss when Nutt filed a lawsuit against both parties, claiming they orchestrated a smear campaign. In discovery for that lawsuit, Freeze’s phone records reveal a phone call to an escort service and, in the words of athletic director Ross Bjork: “We looked into the rest of the phone records and we found a pattern of misconduct. It appeared to be a concerning pattern.”

So Freeze resigned before they fired him. Resigned … with no buyout or cash settlement over any kind, according to Bjork.

But let’s get real here. Freeze isn’t out of a job because Ole Miss suddenly realized he wasn’t a Boy Scout, any more than Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino because he cheated on his wife and can’t drive a motorcycle. Freeze is gone because the humiliation over this mess has gotten to be too much for even shallow people like Bjork and chancellor Jeffrey Vitter to handle.

Personal dirt is a messy thing to control. Ole Miss officials can shake their fists at the NCAA and cry injustice over allegations from now until forever. They can do that because they’re largely speaking to their fan base, particularly the ones who write big checks. But when one gets into something more personal and, shall we say, less palatable to some folks in the Bible belt, it’s far more difficult to spin.

I don’t care about Freeze’s personal life. That’s between he and his family and his higher power. But I know that if even a fraction of the NCAA allegations are true — and the school already has signed off on many — he deserves to be out of a job. So for that matter do any Ole Miss officials who were complicit in enabling him, covering up for him and lying for him.

Hugh Freeze might be out of a job for the wrong reasons. But at least he’s out.

Earlier on this subject: Ole Miss wants us to believe Hugh Freeze knew nothing of infractions

Earlier today: Let sale begin: Braves close to trading Jaime Garcia to Minnesota

Earlier today: There’s one Atlanta team in serious playoff contention — and it plays soccer

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. Episodes also can be downloaded from on-demand link on WSBRadio.com.

A writer’s dozen pre-vacation ramblings

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
HotDawg
HotDawg

Hugh Freeze's punishment is really for the cheating and ncaa breathing down ole miss' neck.

He got caught for some other, minor offense and ole miss was able to use that as an excuse to get rid of him.

Kinda like OJ.

OJ got away with murder, so the courts finally got to punish him as strong as they could for a lesser crime.

Sob should be dead.

geronimo
geronimo

Grammar Police: next to last paragraph -- "between him and his family," not "he and his family." Object of preposition, objective case. Sorry -- very effective English teacher in 6th and 7th grade.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@geronimo

Last sentence of your post--"6th and 7th grades," not "grade." Two different grades.

Sorry--not an effective enough English teacher. But don't give up. Unlike oh:io and TOJ, you at least have promise.

Lexi3
Lexi3

His repeated calls to escort services might account for some of his success in recruiting--or was that Louisville basketball?


The Ole Miss administration is a disgrace. They put up with abject corruption in the football program, while acting hysterical about the state flag--which they refuse to fly on a taxpayer funded campus.

mgunter
mgunter

He'll get another job in a year or two. If wins, all will be forgotten just like Pertino. Sports fans no longer have any morality when it comes to winning.

OH:IO
OH:IO

I'd go with 10th Avenue Freeze Out...

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Freeze could be the answer in Athens. The dogs need a new

coach and Freeze knows the mighty SEC well..

Big Wally
Big Wally

@LOGS1973 You are better at asking questions than you are answering them.

TOJacket
TOJacket

They have a coach but he's in Miami.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@LOGS1973 You meant mighty Alabama and THE coattail riders, right?

E983
E983

Lack of institutional control. Four words that can carry the two words that universities quiver when it's read and spend many dollars and cents on attorney fees to keep them from those two words, Death Penalty. Ask SMU. They can't keep a coach or field a championship team since it was involked on them over 30 years ago. So Ole Miss tried to hang the problem on Houston Nutt, well that didn't fly so now they're trying to hang it on their present coach because he's called escorts and foolish as he is he used his staff provided smart phone, not describing the user here, to get what was needed to secure recruits. So they fired Freeze for this? This is nothing more than, excuse my lack of a long word, STUPID. Classes anyone? NEXT!

Cmac_ptreecrns
Cmac_ptreecrns

any more than Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino because he cheated on his wife and can’t drive a motorcycle- lol

OH:IO
OH:IO

Well folks, you can add Ole Miss to the list of Cupcakes Alabama will play this year. 


SEC! SEC!

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO OSU plays Rutgers every year right? Maybe you should think before you post.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

No, not checkmate at all.

0-31--there's your checkmate!

colt07
colt07

A number of these posts are correct. These escorts were not for Freeze; he passed them on to recruits. Why would 4 and 5 star recruits go to Ole Miss, a backward school in a terribly backward state (not a UGA grad I am a grad of the real USC - University of Southern California) so no dog in this hunt!

BaronDeKalb
BaronDeKalb

@colt07 So says a graduate of O.J. Simpson University. If there is a more backwards / dangerous place than south central L.A. near your campus, I sure don't want to see it. Apparently, USC has its own ethical issues with football. Don't throw stones if you live in a glass house. 

Lexi3
Lexi3

@colt07 Actually Ole Miss is a well-regarded school that has some nationally ranked programs, like accountancy. Its "problem" is its feckless administration, too PC for its own good. Mississippi also has the highest % of blacks of any state in the country, and it's growing, so perhaps it's not as "backwards" as many urban centers under the thumb of "forwards" democrats for 4 generations.

OH:IO
OH:IO

 What I respect about Ole Miss is it cheated and everybody knew it. What I don't respect about Ole Miss is it cheated and couldn't make an SEC championship game. At least Vanderbilt plays school well.


elevenwarriors.com

BaronDeKalb
BaronDeKalb

 

@OH:IO Ohio State has their own pay-to-play history. Ask Jim Tressel. Plus, I remember OSU crying to play in a championship game when it could not win its own (weak) conference. OSU is one of the most over-rated programs in America. Save your disrespect for your own school. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

@BaronDeKalb @OH:IO


Yo, Baron, Ohio State is 2-1 with a National Championship in the Playoff Era. 2 appearances in 3 years. That makes 8 NC's in all. Your team?????

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @BaronDeKalb ..........and they did some of that with the likes of outstanding characters like Ezekiel Elliott.  Has he punched anyone out this week?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally @OH:IO @BaronDeKalb


No charges, no witnesses, no nothing. 


You got nothing....


other than a conference title last decade and an NC last Century. 


TOJacket
TOJacket

Why was everyone hollering "bagman" when all the top recruits were going to Ole Miss?...Ole Miss never wins sheet!...now UGA is getting all of the top recruits and they also haven't won sheet of late? Careful Kirby.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO Let's not forget about Louisville,,,,,,,,,,,

ACC, ACC

slydawg
slydawg

You really think he's being let go over a phone call to an escort service from his State-issued cellphone? This fish doesn't smell right....lol. Ole Miss was looking for a way to rid themselves of Freeze in anyway possible. The reasoning is somewhat contrived, because it would not have taken this long. Furthermore, Hugh Freeze just simply doesn't have enough time to go out on "dates" with an escort. Much easier to find a pawn for third party activities on campus. The escort service is probably the same one some boosters and big wigs at Ole Miss uses themselves.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

"I don’t care about Freeze’s personal life. That’s between he and his family and his higher power."


You really think the escorts were for himself?  In all likelihood it was for recruits.  Ole Miss didn't go from being a yearly bottom dweller that is in the backwoods of a hillbilly state to getting all those 4 and 5 star recruits by playing by the rules.  They were obviously providing some fun on recruiting visits. 

slydawg
slydawg

Don't forget powerful alumni and boosters. They use these services for themselves on a regular basis.... They just burned the man with the same fire they ingested.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@MaybeMaybeNot Why is UGA suddenly getting the top recruits now?...Oh yea, that ship in 1980 is probably it?

Lexi3
Lexi3

@TOJacket @tipstotips


Follow recruiting? UGA has never had a problem recruiting, almost invariably landing top ten classes--often higher. They've been coaching them down since Dooley retired, though.