Category Archives: Freeze!

Great moments in broadcast planning

Did you know that Ole Miss and Baylor are scheduled to meet in the 2020 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff?  That has all the earmarks of a real classic, assuming there are enough scholarship players left at both schools to suit up.

Speaking of which, that could lead to a scenario where the Black Bear Rebels (or is it the Rebel Black Bears?) take a serious hit in the pocketbook.  Hey, just because schools aren’t proactive doesn’t mean Mickey ain’t.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Freeze!

When Houston Nutt’s lawyer speaks, Ole Miss listens.

The significance of this Wall Street Journal story concerning the allegation that coaches were using burner phones to contact recruits in ways that may not have been exactly kosher isn’t the truth of the allegation itself — the AD didn’t uncover any evidence that it occurred.

It’s that the school quickly jumped through hoops to respond to Thomas Mars’ warning.

In August, University of Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork assembled the football team’s coaching staff in a meeting room. He handed out a form that asked the coaches to disclose whether they had used personal phones, including “prepaid phones, pay as you go, burner, etc.” for recruiting or any other work-related purpose.

If the coaches had done so, the form said, those phones could be subject to records requests or “required to be furnished upon request of the University or NCAA to ensure compliance with University, SEC and NCAA rules.”

The unusual demand was in response to an accusation that coaches at Ole Miss—already under NCAA investigation for recruiting violations—had improperly used burner phones to contact football recruits, according to records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The accusation came from a lawyer for Houston Nutt, a former Ole Miss coach who is suing the school over an alleged smear campaign by the school surrounding its ongoing NCAA investigation…

Then on July 25, five days after Freeze’s dismissal, Mars wrote a text message to the school’s lead lawyer alleging that Freeze and at least three other staff members used burner phones “on a regular basis” to hide communications with recruits that would violate NCAA rules. A later letter from Mars said he had a sworn affidavit testifying to Freeze’s use of burner phones, in violation of NCAA rules. The use of unreported burner phones would make it more difficult to monitor recruiting practices, which are strictly regulated by the NCAA.

Mars’s letter prompted Ole Miss to self-report the information to the NCAA and distribute the phone declaration form to the football staff. Of the 29 people who filled it out, the school says, none reported using a burner, prepaid or pay-as-you-go phone during their time at Ole Miss.

Of course, that does leave a few unanswered questions, starting with the fact that Ole Miss doesn’t appear to have forms filled out by its former coaches.  But it’s remarkable now to see any allegation made by the Nuttster’s attorney immediately put the school on DEFCON alert.

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Ole Miss has its own Pork Rind Jimmy.

Citizen journalism, for the win:

Clant Seay is a 71-year-old attorney interested in animal welfare. He moonlights as a citizen journalist with his website billygoboy.com, and he also regularly posts on the RebelGrove.com message boards under the handle “jhvaught.”

Mostly, Seay said, he’s an Ole Miss Rebel.

That’s what led him roughly 300 miles this week to this Cincinnati suburb, where he spent many hours Monday and Tuesday sitting in the corner of the lobby of the Embassy Suites, right outside the doors of the ballroom where the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions held Ole Miss’ hearing.

On each day,  there were two armed guards who secured the doors of the hearing room.

Mostly they protected the hearing room from four writers, a local Mississippi television station, and … Seay, who dressed in a button-up shirt with a red tie and black pants, a small flashlight attached to his hip. He worked on his Macbook, taking pictures of individuals as they entered the hearing room at the start of the day or as they exited.

“I think it’s one of those deals where this entire saga is borderline insane and it’s just the latest chapter,” said RebelGrove publisher Neal McCready. “If it were on anything else, it would have more value, but we’re so numb to chaos at this point that it’s almost semi-normal that he’s over there covering the story for billygoboy.com.”

The best part is that he wants you to know it’s not what you think it is.

He was there to document and observe what he felt like was a historic event. He doesn’t consider himself a fan because it would mean he’s a fanatic, which he says isn’t the case, even though he spent roughly $1,250 to make this trip.

Sure, buddy.  Whatever you say.

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The bag man? Meet the baggee.

The NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss is turning out to be quite the story.

Now officially on the record that August, Sheridan asked if Lewis understood that immunity would only cover past events, not any potential future violations, and that if he was found to have provided false or misleading information, he could still lose his grant.

“Yes sir,” Lewis replied.

Finally, Lewis’ lawyer, John Brady, stepped in to clarify how far his client could go.

“I just want to make sure we’re clear that the immunity extends to everything that you may ask Leo today, is that correct?” Brady asked.

“That is correct,” Sheridan replied.

Then Lewis started talking. About money. About free hotels, free rides to visit college campuses, hundred-dollar handshakes, free apparel, and even more money, bags of cash he says he received from multiple SEC programs totaling over $21,000 during the final week before National Signing Day in February 2015.

“Multiple SEC programs”?  Please, continue.

Additionally, new documentation submitted to the Committee on Infractions by attorneys for Ole Miss claims Lewis told NCAA enforcement he took $11,000 in benefits from his current school, Mississippi State. Unlike Lewis, Mississippi State cannot receive conditional immunity for any former, current, or future statements its current player makes.

11 grand?  Pfffft.  Loose change.

… an audio tape of an alleged conversation between Farrar and Lewis’ mother, Tina Henderson, was submitted by Farrar’s counsel after the November interview. In the audio tape, recorded on Feb. 2, 2015, a day before Lewis says Allen paid him $10,000 to sign with Ole Miss, Henderson allegedly told Farrar that she had received multiple cash offers for Lewis, including $650,000 from LSU and $80,000 from Mississippi State.

In the third meeting, Lewis confirmed his identity in the Snapchat video submitted by Ole Miss. Sheridan asked Brady and Lewis to listen to the tape alleging cash offers from LSU and Mississippi State and asked Leo, “were you personally offered any money from a school other than Ole Miss?”

At that moment, Brady requested to go off the record. When the meeting resumed, Lewis confirmed the questions.

“Yes sir,” he told Sheridan.

Lewis confirmed his mother was offered and received money as well, at which point the NCAA requested to go off the record[Emphasis added.]

That’s called not wanting to show your hole card.

I have no idea where this is going, but if Greg Sankey’s not already shitting bricks, he will be soon.

By the way, for those of you who continue to wonder how would schools figure out what to pay players in a post-amateurism world, it seems like they’ve already done their prep work on that.

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UPDATE:

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Filed under Freeze!, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

“Houston, I have a problem.”

A day on the road with Hugh Freeze.

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“Happenstance”

You are supposed to believe that Hugh Freeze and a booster who “allegedly gave a recruit cash and free food at his Oxford, Miss., restaurant [and] called each other at least 200 times between January 2015 and the end of Freeze’s tenure last month” just happened to meet at church after the alleged violations occurred, formed a friendship, yet never discussed the NCAA case.

Sounds credible to me.

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Filed under Freeze!, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

After a hard day on the recruiting trail, a coach just wants to relax.

Of course, if said coach is a horndog, he doesn’t want to relax alone.

On the morning of Jan. 19, 2016, University of Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze tweeted a quote: “Look not back on yesterday—so full of failure & regret; Look ahead & seek God’s way—all sin confessed u must forget.”

Later that day, the coach flew to Tampa, Fla., as part of a recruiting trip using the school plane, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. A few hours after the plane touched down at 5:30 p.m. in Tampa, his school phone registered a call to a number linked to a female escort service in that city, according to phone records reviewed by the Journal.

Given what we know about SEC recruiting, that means there was a lot of relaxing.

Although school officials had previously declined to characterize the alleged misconduct, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said in response to questions from the Journal about Freeze’s travel that the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.

“When we say pattern, we are describing other phone numbers that when you Google them pull up similar type websites, services, however you would describe them,” Bjork said. “We took action swiftly.”

When the school presented its findings to Freeze, the coach admitted his misconduct and agreed to resign, school officials said.

Public transportation.  Public communication.  I don’t know whose carelessness amazes me more, Freeze’s or Bjork’s.  Considering only one of the two is out of a job, I guess that answers my question.

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