Category Archives: Freeze!

Hell hath no fury like a quarterback seeking an immediate transfer.

Man, Shea Patterson and his lawyer are working the media hardDennis Dodd reveals the contents of a nine-page letter Patterson wrote the NCAA in an attempt to justify being allowed to play immediately at his new home that begins, “I’m not going to hold anything back …”

I’m trying to feel the righteous indignation here, but my chuckling over this gem keeps getting in the way:

In his filing, Patterson said he found “a trustworthy, high-caliber coach” with “values, integrity and leadership qualities” in Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

**giggles**

Um… sorry.

“It doesn’t seem fair to me that the only thing standing in the way of Coach Freeze making $5 million a year at another school was the discovery that he wasn’t the trustworthy, straight-laced role model that he claimed to be,” Patterson states.

Bless your heart, Shea.  It just now dawned on you that a college football coach isn’t always 100% straight with others?

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Filed under Freeze!, Heard About Harbaugh?

“I think Hugh Freeze is a really good coach…”

Evidently Nick Saban is far from alone with that sentiment.

According to this Al.com story, at least five SEC schools had contact with Freeze about on-field jobs this offseason.  All five were supposedly shot down by Greg Sankey.  (I say “supposedly” because the SEC office wouldn’t comment on the story.)

Multiple SEC schools looked into hiring Freeze as their offensive coordinator, including LSU and Missouri, but no deal was ever reached because of the league’s opposition, according to sources. Freeze was publicly linked to the Missouri offensive coordinator position before Barry Odom hired former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

While it seems implausible a coach as influential and successful as Saban couldn’t get what he wanted, a nearly year-old SEC bylaw gives the league’s commissioner additional oversight into schools’ hiring practices. According to bylaw 19.8.1.2, a school must consult directly with Sankey before offering a job to a coach “who has engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted, or may result, in a Level I, Level II or major infraction.”

That’s relevant because Ole Miss received a two-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions through 2018-19 and had to vacate wins after the program was deemed to have “fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting,” according to the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

The committee, though, seemingly viewed it as more an institutional than Freeze issue at Ole Miss. While multiple Ole Miss assistants and staffers received multi-year show-cause penalties, Freeze was hit with only a two-game conference suspension should any school hire him as a head coach before Nov. 30.

All of which seemingly begs the question, if this was more of an institutional problem than a personal one, why is Hugh Freeze currently persona non grata with the SEC, while Ole Miss isn’t?

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Filed under Freeze!, SEC Football

Man, what did you expect?

I can’t say I’m particularly sympathetic to Ole Miss’ current plight, but that doesn’t mean I’m surprised by this news, either.

Ole Miss is objecting to Shea Patterson’s assessment of the conditions within the program that the quarterback claims caused him to transfer from the school amid an NCAA scandal, his attorney tells CBS Sports.

The objection recently sent to the NCAA could impact Patterson’s ongoing transfer waiver appeal as he is looking to immediately become eligible to play for Michigan in 2018. The objection is part of a response delivered to the NCAA last month, according to attorney Thomas Mars.

Patterson is seeking a waiver of the NCAA’s traditional year-in-residence rule for transfers before becoming eligible. The approval of such a waiver would presumably have a significant impact on the Wolverines’ 2018 season.

“Whoever wrote that response for Ole Miss either wasn’t paying attention last year or had a case of selective amnesia,” Mars said.

Or perhaps — just perhaps — there’s another reason.

Ole Miss has issues with how its former quarterback portrayed his reasons for transferring after the Rebels were put on NCAA probation late last year, sources said.

CBS Sports reported in February that Patterson and five other former teammates feel they were misled on the scope of that NCAA investigation by former coach Hugh Freeze.

Electronic communications obtained by CBS Sports supporting their cases were included by those players in their appeals.

Another person working closely with Patterson’s appeal said misleading statements made by Freeze about the scope of the NCAA investigation were “a flat-out, deliberate lie.”

Does Mars really think the school was just going to shrug its shoulders and say “our bad”?  Patterson may still wind up gaining his eligibility in time for the 2018 season, but to think Ole Miss was going to roll over and accept Mars’ portrayal of its recruiting is its own version of not paying attention.  That’s not about what’s already happened; it’s about the here and now on the recruiting trail.

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Filed under Freeze!, Recruiting

Mississippi (still) Burning

Shots fired.

Florida’s Dan Mullen and Scott Stricklin, both formerly of Mississippi State, NCAA investigator Mike Sheridan and the NCAA itself have been throw into the Rebel Rags legal saga.

Rebel Rags, the Oxford-based outlet store, filed a lawsuit against Mullen, Stricklin, Sheridan, the NCAA, Mississippi State’s Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, and Lindsey Miller, Laremy Tunsil’s estranged stepfather, in Lafayette County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Talk about your motley crew.

The complaint is centered on defamation, civil conspiracy and commercial disparagement. Those are the same allegations the original case, which was filed last June against Lewis, Jones and Miller, are based on. That stems from statements those three provided to the NCAA during its investigation into Ole Miss’ football program.

Rebel Rags alleges that Mullen, Stricklin, Sheridan and the NCAA were a part of an overarching conspiracy, which impacted the outlet store when it was named in the Notice of Allegations.

Well, it’s a theory.

As I like to say, America is a great country — anybody can sue anybody over anything.  Making it stick is a horse of an entirely different color, though.  Still… hey, can you pass that bag of popcorn over this way?

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Filed under Freeze!, See You In Court

Ole Miss strenuously objects.

Well, now, who doesn’t like to watch a school go to war against the NCAA?  I’m not talking about Notre Dame, which strikes me as having valid grounds to criticize the organization’s double standard regarding academic misconduct.

Nah, I’m talking about the SEC’s Rebels without a cause who think they have one.  And they’re pretty belligerent about it.

Ole Miss submitted its written appeal to the NCAA last Monday. The university published the document on Wednesday, and in doing so kept up with its recent aggressive tone toward the Committee on Infractions and its ruling.

“This Committee should vacate and reverse the penalties and factual findings,” the appeal stated, “because the COI abused its discretion, departed from precedent, committed procedural errors, and reached factual conclusions inconsistent with the evidence.”

I’m sure this makes for great posturing with the home folks, but does the school really think anyone at the NCAA is going to be impressed with heated oratory like this?

The Committee on Infractions handed down its ruling to Ole Miss on Dec. 1. In its ruling, the committee essentially determined Ole Miss had an out-of-control booster culture, which spanned decades and cited cases from 1986 and 1994.

The use of cases which were more than two decades old as an aggravating factor bothered Jeff Vitter, Ole Miss’ chancellor, and Ross Bjork, the Rebels’ athletic director, when they addressed the media that day.

The written appeal hit on that point again.

“At what point does an institution get a clean slate in the infractions process? For this COI panel,” the appeal stated, “the answer appears to be ‘never.'”

Um… that’s how patterns over time get established, fellas.

Ole Miss wants an in-person appeal with the Infractions Appeals Committee, presumably because the one thing more persuasive than heated writing is in-your-face arguing.  I’m guessing the NCAA won’t be receptive, but who knows?

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Filed under Freeze!, The NCAA

But he meant well.

Based on this tale, I guess I’ve got a better understanding of what Hugh Freeze meant when he recently said “I have a total new appreciation for integrity…”.

Six Ole Miss players seeking immediate transfer waivers have assembled what are being portrayed as previously unknown smartphone and electronic interactions showing they were allegedly misled as to the extent of potential NCAA violations and punishments for the Rebels in statements made by former coach Hugh Freeze, CBS Sports has learned.

The documents will go into packages the players will submit seeking an appeal for immediate eligibility at their new schools. Without that waiver, they would have to adhere to NCAA rules that require transferring athletes to sit one year in academic residence.

In a series of texts that will be forwarded as part of these materials, there is evidence that shows players and their parents believed Freeze as he allegedly minimized the scope of the NCAA investigation concluded last year.

I am shocked, shocked to hear that there was misleading going on in Oxford.

Now, certainly these kids have motivation to put a particular spin on what they say happened (not to mention they’re all represented by the same attorney who represented Houston Nutt in the matter that eventually brought Freeze down), so maybe we should take them just saying that with a grain of salt.  I mean, if there were any specific examples, maybe it would be more credible… eh, what’s that, you say?

Two hours before to that text exchange, a screenshot shows — what the appeal will say is — Nixon questioning Freeze: “If this is mainly about basketball and the other sport and the football is already dealing with the penalties then way hasn’t Ole Miss or the AD come out and said [it’s] not the football team[?] I would think that would help.”

Patterson’s message to Nixon was sent based on specific information Freeze had given the quarterback that afternoon about the notice of allegations, Mars said.

“Here, you have a recruit who has lots of other options,” Mars said of Nixon. “He’s questioning, in a very intelligent way, why doesn’t the school say more, reveal more. Here’s a player who’s doing due diligence.

“Then he reaches out to Shea Patterson, who not having any reason at all to distrust [Freeze], … repeats verbatim what Hugh Freeze had told him in his office.”

If Freeze ever makes it back into the coaching ranks, he’d better have Jesus on his side, because the negative recruiting he’s in store for is gonna be brutal.

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Filed under Freeze!

“It’s a very complicated dynamic with Hugh Freeze.”

Is it, really?  I mean, it sounds pretty straightforward to me.

“Because there were other SEC programs this year who wanted to hire him. I know there was one who wanted to hire Hugh Freeze as offensive coordinator, and I’m not saying the SEC told them no or necessarily discouraged them, but I think there was a fairly clear message from the SEC office, or at least it was perceived that way to say, ‘Hey, maybe wait a year. These were the circumstances surrounding the NCAA stuff.’”

Wolken went on to mention the fact that an SEC bylaw states that coaches who have been involved in a major infractions case have to be consulted with the SEC commissioner.

That’s just one of two hurdles that stand in the way of Freeze coming to Tuscaloosa, according to a report from Aaron Suttles of TideSports.com, the other being that Saban is facing internal objections about the hire.

“Yes, Nick Saban operates on a different level, and he can maybe get away with things that other people can’t get away with from a PR standpoint, and we’ve seen that with some of his other reclamation projects,” Wolken added. “However, I do think the dynamics are very, very complicated throughout the whole thing.”

Coaches want to win.  Administrators want to look pure.  Sooner or later, we’ll find a school where the coach gets his way over the AD.

By the way, when push comes to shove, there’s nothing Greg Sankey can do to stop the hire.

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