Andy Staples makes some good points about the pressures the NCAA is under handling the investigation of Hugh Freeze’s program, but this one in particular resonated with me:
What does this mean for Ole Miss? It means the future prospects for the program and the people who run it look far worse than when the NCAA initially presented the Rebels with a Notice of Allegations last year. That original notice included a hodgepodge of ticky-tack violations that certainly didn’t bode well for the Rebels, but they could have been argued around. The small switch might have sufficed. But that notice came before some contents of one of former Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil’s devices got released on the first night of the NFL draft last April. Instead of holding a hearing based on those accusations, the NCAA re-opened the investigation. Had Ole Miss officials been told on draft night that the expanded investigation wouldn’t find any smoking guns (or gas masks) based on the text messages released on draft night, they likely would have breathed sighs of relief. The eight new allegations don’t include anything stemming from the draft night dump, but they do suggest a deeper pattern of violations of the NCAA’s rules. They include a charge that sometime between April 2014 and February 2015, an Ole Miss staffer introduced a recruit to two boosters who provided inducements valued between $13,000 and $15,600. The recruit then chose another school and dropped the dime on the Rebels when offered immunity…
Why does that resonate? Because it reminds me of the NCAA’s approach in the AJ Green investigation. Allegations about a Miami trip were complete bullshit, but the second bite at the apple, a simple question about looking at Green’s finances, yielded pay dirt.
What matters about Tunsil now isn’t that there are any allegations tied to him directly, but that what happened on draft night gave the NCAA the impetus to dig anew. You can probably argue it also put the court of public sentiment on the side of the investigators, which ain’t an easy thing to do. So, yeah, it was a big deal.
Seth Emerson wonders what might have been had Tunsil signed with Georgia. Ole Miss fans should wonder what might have been had Tunsil not left early for the NFL draft.