Just when you think it’s gonna be a same old, same old, SEC Media Days, along comes an old familiar face to blow up that shit.
Former football coach Houston Nutt filed a civil lawsuit against the University of Mississippi and the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation on Wednesday, alleging breach of contract via defamation of character, in relation to the school’s handling of an NCAA investigation.
Nutt, who coached at Ole Miss from 2008-11 and currently is a CBS television analyst, signed a separation agreement in November 2011 that he alleges the school violated. He is suing the school for punitive damages related to what the suit says was a “long-running … smear campaign” aimed at Nutt.
The suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss., hammers current Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork for creating and perpetuating a “false narrative” regarding the nature of the NCAA’s long-running investigation – particularly the contents of the January 2016 Notice of Allegations. Citing phone records obtained from the school, the suit details numerous “off the record” communications in January ’16 from Freeze and Bjork to media members that allegedly influenced reporting on the NOA, resulting in stories and social media posts that portrayed the violations as having primarily occurred during Nutt’s tenure.
When the NOA was made public more than four months later, that characterization was proven inaccurate. Of the 13 football violations alleged by the NCAA, nine of them happened during Freeze’s tenure.
Some of the allegations in the complaint have to be read to be believed. For instance, take this loving portrayal of Hugh Freeze:
As far as that cultivation of journalists goes, while the suit doesn’t name names, it’s not hard to figure out where the finger is pointed, as it goes on to list a number of specific tweets (!) referencing Nutt.
Just as amusing is this little tidbit indicating that Nutt unleashed his inner Pork Rind Jimmy to get dirt on Freeze, AD Bjork and SID Campbell:
According to the lawsuit, which obtained phone records for Freeze, Bjork and Campbell, they spoke with those reporters before their stories were posted containing misleading information about the Notice of Allegations and Nutt’s involvement. [Emphasis added.]
“During the 10 days leading up to the crucial weekend recruiting event, Coach Freeze initiated ‘off the record’ conversations with numerous sports journalists for the specific purpose of creating multiple false and misleading news stories, Tweets and other social media comments supporting the above-referenced false narrative, i.e., that the NCAA’s focus was on the former football coaching staff and Houston Nutt in particular.”
Brother, if anybody has experience with people prying into phone records, it’s Houston Nutt. I suppose that makes this situation the opposite of being hoisted on one’s own petard.
With Ole Miss scheduled to show at tomorrow’s slate at SEC Media Days, the timing is exquisite. Between this and the inevitable NCAA questions he was already going to face, if Hugh Freeze doesn’t bow out with a sudden case of stomach flu, he’s either dumber or crazier than I think he is.