“It’s very William Faulkner.”

What do you get when you cross Faulkner with Pork Rind Jimmy?  Mark Schlabach has the answer.

The man who helped take down Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze is a lifelong Mississippi State fan who attended his first Bulldogs game 37 years ago and has the university’s logo tattooed on his left hand.

But he insists he never set out to bring down the Rebels and their coach.

It just kind of happened that way.

When Steve Robertson was sifting through Freeze’s phone records on July 5 as part of his research for an upcoming book he’s writing, he discovered phone calls he expected to see. There were mostly calls to recruits and assistant coaches.

But when Robertson saw a phone number with a 313 area code, he was stunned by what he discovered in a Google search. A call made on Jan. 19, 2016, lasting one minute, was made to a number connected with several advertisements for female escorts. Robertson then asked his wife to read him the telephone number again to make sure it was correct. The escort service ads came up again.

Robertson called Thomas Mars, an attorney who is representing former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in his defamation lawsuit against Ole Miss. Mars had been introduced to Robertson through a third party he found while doing online research into Nutt’s case. They’ve since developed a close working relationship, talking on the phone several times a day and sharing what they found in their investigations.

“He asked me to fill in some blanks,” Robertson said.

When Robertson told Mars to enter the phone number in Google, Mars was silent for nearly a minute before yelling an expletive in excitement.

Ole Miss had unwittingly provided information that would lead to Freeze’s resignation.

Robertson, if you will recall from one of yesterday’s posts, is a guy that Rebel Rags pointed to as a member of a vast conspiracy to bring down Ole Miss.  The thing is, it sounds like he’s been doing just fine on his lonesome.

Robertson had been butting heads with Ole Miss officials for the past several months, since they denied his open records request for an unredacted version of the notice of allegations the Rebels received from the NCAA in January 2016. Robertson wanted the names of the Ole Miss boosters who are accused of providing improper benefits to recruits, and university officials wouldn’t release them.

When Mars advised Tyner about the call Freeze made to the escort service, he told him that he’d shared the phone records with Robertson.

“Steve is obsessed,” Mars said Tyner told him.

“Had anybody in this state done their job, I wouldn’t have had to do it,” Robertson said. “It got to the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of it. I was willing to pass the baton to someone, but no one was willing to take it.”

Robertson filed a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission, which ruled in his favor earlier this month. One of the unnamed boosters — identified in court records as John Doe — filed a lawsuit in state court in Jackson in an attempt to block the release of his name.

“I don’t care if it goes to the Mississippi Supreme Court,” Robertson said. “I’m in this all the way. The law is on my side.”

It’s a good thing for Ole Miss that the NCAA investigators aren’t as dogged as Robertson.

As you might expect, local fans haven’t taken these developments well.

The fact that a self-described Mississippi State fan helped expose the wrongdoing of a popular Ole Miss coach will only add more bad blood to an in-state rivalry that has been boiling with venom for months.

“If it weren’t for Steve Robertson, I don’t believe this case would have transpired the way it did over the past week,” Mars said.

Robertson has already received multiple death threats. He shared one with ESPN in which someone wrote on a message board that “he will be lucky if he can ever speak again” and “he won’t be around much longer.”

Even before Robertson helped expose Freeze’s alleged misdeeds, Ole Miss and Mississippi State fans had been pointing fingers at each other. Many MSU fans accused the Rebels of cheating in recruiting during their rise to national prominence under Freeze, while some Ole Miss fans believe the Bulldogs helped orchestrate many of the more serious allegations of rules violations. And, of course, they’re battling for many of the same high school players in a sparsely populated state.

“It’s a family feud every day of every year,” said ESPN college football analyst Tommy Tuberville, a former Ole Miss coach. “Recruiting is so much more involved and there’s a lot more on the line. Auburn and Alabama is more of a rivalry game between the players, coaches and fans. But probably 80 percent of the guys signed by Ole Miss every year were recruited by Mississippi State. It’s that cutthroat.”

When you consider the lesser stakes involved — at least Alabama and Auburn are regularly duking it out for SEC titles and playoff bids — the heat here is almost amusing.  (Almost.  Death threats ain’t funny, peeps.)  It seems like there’s more to come, too.

Loyd, who represents former Ole Miss staffer Barney Farrar, and who said he played junior college football with Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, all but predicted Freeze’s ouster a month ago. “There’s just so much drama and it involves a lot of tragedy,” Loyd said. “It’s going to get worse and there’s going to be a lot more that’s coming.”

Somebody’s gonna write one helluva book about this some day.  In the meantime, stock up on popcorn.


Filed under Freeze!

20 responses to ““It’s very William Faulkner.”

  1. It’s funny that Ole Miss did all of this and looked the other way when it was apparent the program was out of control … and still they never even got into the SECCG. At least Clemson got their first national championship (helped by 5 Georgia turnovers in Death Valley). At least Florida got their first SEC championship (they claim). USC got their national championship with Bush.


  2. Jim

    Imagine if this was Alabama and auburn. There would be civil war in the state


    • ASEF

      Already happened.

      Both sides realized Mutual Assured Destruction was a more sensible defense posture than mutually destroying each other through the NCAA.


  3. Bright Idea

    Miss State folks better hope their program is as pure as snow because you know somebody up north is looking real hard.


  4. kevin fogarty

    Regarding the death threats and yes they are from a minority of fans I presume, but the whole concept of my team must be defended at all costs is something I have a hard time understanding. There are times I am at a UGA game and I will see a clear pass interference call against one of our DBs and yet fans boo and yell you suck ref, and I’m like you know it was a clear PI penalty right? Our DB tackled the WR before the ball even got their but its that mentality that everything against my team must be defended. My point (took me a while to get there) is that to read a line like “if it wasn’t for that Miss State guy digging around we wouldn’t be in this mess and Freeze will still be here….(that was a slight paraphrase)” ….. which to me means I don’t care that he was calling escort services behind his wife’s back, I only care that he got caught. Sorry, principles come first for me. If Kirby or even back years ago Richt would have had something similar come out I would not defend them just because I am a UGA fan and they are the coach. Well, this went on longer than I expected 🙂


    • Red Cup

      See politics, America. 2010-2017


    • Uglydawg

      Usually, the booing on the pass interference calls against Georgia are a protest of the previous lack of calls when Georgia receivers are mugged. That has often been the case. And Georgia fans have had a uniquely negative experience with a couple of officials, who, down thru the years loved to show their disdain for the Red and Black and CMR. The incidents are legend and have been covered on this blog in completeness.
      I agree, though. All teams have fans that do it. Not trying to start an argument or offend, but it seems Auburn’s fans may be the worst offenders. Anytime the ref picks up the ball and starts goose stepping off yards against the team they get upset…not at the offender but the official.
      (But these are the same fans that never tired of cheering when Cam, after feigning injury on almost every un-piling, would slowly get up and smile. “Thank the Lord” would be heard from old women and little kids and grown men. So there you go.)
      I used to umpire baseball. A ball could be a foot outside the strike zone and people would be all over me for calling it a “ball”. Once a kid hit a home run. I was umping the bases and carefully watched that he touched every base as he made his lap around the infield. An old red-necked drunk ( I knew him personally) in the stands started screaming he didn’t touch second. The other team threw the obligatory protest pitch but I ignored it. The rest of the game, that’s all I heard about. People get crazy about their sports teams.
      I’m just happy PW is getting smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.


    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      Understand your point, but the single greatest way fans can influence a game is to work the refs, no matter whether the refs are making good calls or not.


  5. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    With so much drama in the Magnolia, it’s kinda hard being Hugh Freezy-E…


  6. Normaltown Mike

    I did NOT have sexual relations….with Admiral Ackbar


  7. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    Wait, who stole my name? I respect the comment, but come on.


  8. ASEF

    H.O.L.Y. C.R.A.P.

    On Monday, a school official acknowledged the existence of a private Facebook group that describes itself as a forum for a “victim of Coach Freeze at Briarcrest” to come forward.

    The Facebook page was deleted late Monday.



  9. Stoopnagle

    “Considering the lesser stakes…” when they’re all you’ve got, you go all in I guess. Good thing our fans are so easily distracted by their own golf games. Otherwise, all of that throwing children off the top of Sanford Stadium and keying Auburn fans’ cars would get out of hand. /sarcasm

    Seriously: all of this for one Sugar Bowl win.


  10. Dog in Fla

    Who wore the G.O.A.T. better?

    Pork Rind Jimmy

    or Steve Robertson