For those who haven’t been paying attention, Ole Miss is in some hot water. Last week, the NCAA issued 21 allegations against the school’s football program, including 15 Level One violations, the worst degree of violation possible. The school has already self-imposed a postseason ban and cut 11 scholarships for the 2017 season, but is expected to face more sanctions.
Among the allegations, Ole Miss is accused of committing acts of academic fraud, lying to the NCAA, arranging for cash payments for a recruit and a lack of institutional control.
The time period of the allegations include the 2015 season, when Oklahoma State and Ole Miss met in the Sugar Bowl, a game the Rebels won 48-20.
While most coaches don’t say anything negative publicly regarding other coaches and their programs, Mike Gundy isn’t “most coaches.” I mean, come on ... the guy has a mullet.
Gundy commented on the Ole Miss allegations last week. He said the Sugar Bowl wasn’t a “level playing field,” in an article by Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who is at the center of this Ole Miss mess, didn’t appreciate Gundy’s comments. In a press conference earlier today, Freeze was asked about Gundy’s comments.
Hugh Freeze on Mike Gundy's Sugar Bowl comments: "Maybe we can meet in another Sugar Bowl and see how that one goes too."— Hugh Kellenberger (@HKellenbergerCL) February 28, 2017
Those are some big words coming from a coach whose program won’t go bowling this season, and will be lucky to make the St. Petersburg Bowl in the next few years. Despite the self-imposed bowl ban and loss of 11 scholarships, if the eventual NCAA sanctions against Ole Miss are as bad as some think (which could include Freeze losing his job) it could take years for the Rebels’ football program to recover.
Remember, this is the same Hugh Freeze that fervently fought any talk or allegations that the school was cheating when it signed its amazing 2013 recruiting class that included the No. 1-ranked player, Laremy Tunsil, and the No. 1-ranked wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who chose the Rebels over Oklahoma State.
Freeze was adamant that his Rebels played by the rules. He even challenged the public to try to find an act of malfeasance. The exact quote from Freeze’s Twitter was ...
"If you have facts about a violation, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family"
Looks like people found that proof, Hugh.
Gundy similarly faced allegations against his program back in 2013 when Sports Illustrated
conducted a smear campaign headed by an OU fan posing as a reporter ran a scathing feature on the Cowboy football program. The difference is, the NCAA investigated and discovered those allegations to be “fundamentally unfounded.”
Former players and individuals connected to the Cowboy Football program came out in defense of Gundy and the football team after they were accused of wrong doing. I don’t see a lot of defense coming in the direction of Hugh Freeze and the Rebels.
Gundy and Freeze aren’t the only ones getting in the battle of words. Gundy’s son Gavin decided to stick up for his dad on Twitter.
Were you this bad at cheating in school as well or just when it comes to paying players? @CoachHughFreeze https://t.co/TsAug5Ke43— Gavin Gundy (@GundyChild) February 28, 2017
While this is far from the end of the story for Freeze, Gundy has said his piece and is now focusing on a 2017 season where the Cowboys intend to do more than just make a bowl game.
In the meantime, it might be best for both parties to take a step back. Especially the one whose job is in jeopardy for cheating.