Category Archives: Freeze!

“I can tell you this. It ends terribly for everyone involved.”

If you are an amateurism romantic, I warn you that Steven Godfrey’s inside the sausage factory look at Mississippi recruiting won’t give you the warm and fuzzies.  Sure, Hugh Freeze’s sanctimony and chutzpah make him an easy target, but the real finger-pointing goes towards the NCAA and, indirectly, our love of the game that makes us willing accomplices to the comfortable fiction that the NCAA sells.

You can watch the first installment, which centers around the Laremy Tunsil saga, here:

There are three more installments that follow, so hang on.

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

Harbaugh, Patterson, Mars and being sick of ’em all

You guys know my position on player transfers — the current rules are too restrictive and cater to coaches’ sense of control — but I’ve got to tell you after watching the farce of Shea Patterson’s transfer from Ole Miss to Michigan, there’s a part of me ready to declare a pox on all their houses.

Remember, this all started with Patterson and his lawyer, who has an enormous hard-on for Ole Miss, screaming about how the school needed to man up and let Patterson transfer because everyone lied to him.  And when I say screaming, I mean finding receptive idiots in the national media to share their message of perfidy.

Shockingly, Ole Miss had no wish to accommodate the duo’s desire/demand that it admit to a pattern of deception, while not really having a dog in the hunt for where the kid plays this season.  And why should it, anyway?  No matter what, he’s not suiting up in Oxford.

So, there’s one school that wants a quarterback and another which just wants the quarterback and his legal entourage to go away.  The solution seems simple enough that even two athletic directors could figure it out.

The NCAA decided Friday to waive in Patterson’s case its normal rule that requires non-graduated transfers to sit out a year before returning to the playing field. Michigan and Ole Miss said in an announcement Friday that the two athletic departments worked together during the past week to create a waiver request that they both agreed was accurate and one that took advantage of recently adapted NCAA rules to allow Patterson to get on the field this fall…

The new waiver, which used an NCAA amendment passed earlier this month that takes a player’s academic standing into account when applying to play immediately, put to rest Ole Miss’ previous objections to Patterson’s reasons for transferring.

“Both schools are ready to move forward and appreciate the assistance of the NCAA staff in bringing this matter to a resolution,” the two athletic departments said in a joint statement. “While the process has been complex at times, the solution was simple — two flagship universities and the NCAA staff working together with a focus on student-athlete well-being.”

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said he reached out to Michigan officials last week to try to work out a resolution regarding Patterson’s eligibility.

“Our biggest thing was we wanted to work with Michigan directly,” Bjork said. “We were able to do that and reach a resolution. We’ve admitted all along that our program has gone through some challenges. While Shea was here, we had a coaching change in July. If that impacted his well-being and he didn’t want to be here, we wish him the best and didn’t want to stand in the way of it.”

In other words, quit letting the lawyer try to score points and find a work-around that meets the schools’ goals.  Success!  Meanwhile, with the mission accomplished, Patterson admits the obvious.

In this case, Michigan benefitted from Patterson deciding that he did not want to play at his school (University of Mississippi) anymore because of football program probation violations. Ole Miss, in the wake of an NCAA investigation into booster-involved recruiting, faces a post-season bowl ban for a second straight in 2018, preventing it from being eligible for a spot in the playoff.

And Patterson, along with not wanting to sit out a year, admitted on Saturday that played into his decision to leave Ole Miss.

“If a university’s football program situation changes drastically, kind of like mine did with the bowl ban and two different coaching staffs, that’s obviously not the situation that I wanted to be in originally,” Patterson said.

“Players should get an opportunity leave that situation. That wasn’t what they thought they were getting themselves into.”

Well, yeah.  Might have been better to have said so from the beginning, son.

Now that the hay is in the barn, Jim Harbaugh has some thoughts about transfers, and they’re about what you’d might expect coming from a football head coach.

Now, in the wake of long, drawn-out process with the NCAA over quarterback Shea Patterson’s eligibility in 2018, the Michigan football coach has some ideas to help fix the college-football transfer debate.

“There’s got to be something,” Harbaugh said Saturday during a football clinic in Paris. “Something. Maybe the school pays back the other school? Ya know?

“Say a school like Michigan gets a player from Eastern Michigan or Central Michigan — maybe you’ve got to pay the scholarship back? Or transfers — maybe you’ve got to pay the scholarship back?”

… To be clear here, Harbaugh isn’t advocating for a change in policy. Just extra burden on the team accepting a transfer from another school.

“Just so there doesn’t become free agency in college football,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the thing I would worry about. But I think scholarships should count as two, or pay back the other school for the money that they have invested, potentially.”

Free agency for players!  Heaven forbid.

In December, though, Harbaugh’s actions somewhat contradicted his words. Despite college football free agency being a concern and players fighting through the adversity being his desire, reports surfaced shortly after Patterson, safety Deontay Anderson and other players were granted permission to transfer that a Michigan plane landed in Oxford, Miss., and that the fourth-year coach of the Wolverines took some players to IHOP.

Hypocrites gonna hypocrite.

Harbaugh’s suggestion, of course, if it came into being, would only serve to benefit the wealthy, which would be more than willing to hand out a little money to smooth the way to boosting their rosters.  Also, of course, none of the funding would wind up in the players’ pockets.  That’s got all the makings of a win-win for big Jim, who, by the way, is making a cool $9 million a year.

Sounds like he and Patterson are made for each other.

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Filed under Freeze!, Heard About Harbaugh?, The NCAA

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