Hugh Freeze Resigns From Ole Miss
Awash in scandal, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has resigned from the program just prior to the start of his sixth season at the school.
For the second time this summer, a major college football coach from a major college football program has unexpectedly vacated his job. But Hugh Freeze hastily departing Ole Miss bears absolutely no resemblance to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops walking off into the sunset at the tail end of a terrific coaching career.
Freeze’s tenure in Oxford travelled with freakish volatility over the course of five years. On the one hand, he’s the guy who engineered the storied 2013 recruiting class, the most talented haul in school history. And he beat Nick Saban in consecutive years, including in 2015 when the Rebs capped a 10-win season by beating Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. However, Freeze’s SEC obit will be flush in scandal, right up to his final days at the helm.
Since the beginning of 2016, Ole Miss has been trying to fend off NCAA investigators and allegations of serious recruiting improprieties under Freeze’s watch. It’s been an ugly situation that put the staff on its heels and cast ominous clouds above the entire program. In the end, though, Freeze reportedly succumbed to a phone call from a university-issued phone to an escort service.
And in a plot twist fit for a Greek tragedy, the aforementioned call was brought to light by the attorney for former head coach Houston Nutt, who is suing the university for breach of contract. For Ole Miss fans forced to endure the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Nutt has now burned them a second time.
Ole Miss’ search for a new head coach is beginning a lot earlier than anyone could have imagined. That’s the silver lining for a team that probably wasn’t going to be very competitive in the SEC West anyway. Co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke will take the reins on an interim basis, using this improbable opportunity to audition for the next stage of his coaching career, wherever that winds up being.
There’ll be plenty of casualties related to Freeze’s careless off-field behavior, primarily the holdovers on the staff and the roster. Five-star QB Shea Patterson turned away offers from many of the biggest programs in the game to play for Freeze. Now, he and every member of that 2016 class are left to wonder who’ll be leading them in 2018. Phil Longo left a secure job to ignite the Rebel offense. He, too, faces uncertainty as soon as the upcoming regular season ends.
Freeze played with fire. Just six weeks before the start of what would have been his sixth year at Ole Miss, he got burned. That the final straw had absolutely nothing to do with gaining a competitive edge in the rugged SEC West is a level of irony that’s almost too strange to make up.