Shorter David Kaufman, the attorney for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation: When the school wanted to disparage Houston Nutt, it was careful to bring in new folks to do that.
Category Archives: Sometimes You Feel Like A Nutt
This is what you call being offered a graceful exit.
It’s a pretty cheap price to avoid any further embarrassing disclosures the discovery process might turn up. So, why do I have the feeling that the apology is a tougher nut (see what I did there?) to crack than the money?
… give it to him, for chrissakes.
In a stunning turn of events, Hugh Freeze has resigned from Ole Miss on Thursday. The move comes after the school found at least one call from the coach to an escort service on his school-issued cell phone.
Yahoo Sports inquired with Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork about a call at 8:34 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2016, to a Detroit number that is linked via various websites to a Florida-based escort service. Freeze told Yahoo last Friday that the call had been brought to Ole Miss administrators’ attention by former coach Houston Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, and that they had questioned him about it. Freeze told Yahoo he had no idea why the call was on his phone records.
“I’ve got no idea, to be honest,” Freeze said. “I was in an 813 area code and that was a 313 number, I think that might have been a misdial. I don’t think there was even a conversation. There’s nothing to it.”
Yahoo Sports obtained Freeze’s phone records from Mars, whose client is suing Ole Miss for breach of contract. The call only lasted one minute, raising the possibility that it was a wrong number.
I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the level of irony it takes to fully appreciate that Houston Nutt brought down Hugh Freeze — something the NCAA hadn’t done — with his friggin’ cellphone records.
And you thought the football gods didn’t have a sense of humor.
By the way, I don’t think his dismissal has anything to do with a one-minute wrong number to an escort service. That’s just the bridge to some deep, deep shit that’s being dredged up.
Bjork told Yahoo on Friday that after receiving the information from Mars, the school had pulled records of Freeze’s cell calls and plowed through 39,000 calls without finding another instance of a call to the 313 number. However, the school kept digging through the records and must have found additional troubling information.
Now there’s an understatement. Speaking of the NCAA, think anybody there has spoken with Mars yet?
UPDATE: Looks like the dismissal isn’t over NCAA compliance stuff.
The blind sided jokes write themselves, don’t they?
UPDATE #2: Aaaand, the topper is:
Freeze had and used a second non-university phone, paid for privately, a source told Godfrey.
It also sounds like Ole Miss was bracing for the worst for a while.
As far as Matt Luke is concerned, multiple sources told SB Nation that he entertained an offer from South Carolina to take the vacant OL position in the offseason. Ole Miss officials retained Luke with an aggressive offer specifically as a fallback interim coach if Freeze didn’t survive.
The lawsuit complicates things significantly. Mars does not mess around. For 11 years, he served as Wal-Mart’s general counsel. He once was director of the Arkansas State Police. His bio says Mars has won verdicts or settlements worth approximately $50 million.
One source described him as one of the most powerful attorneys in Arkansas.
“Houston Nutt is the best client I’ve had in 30 years [practicing law],” Mars told CBS Sports.
The timing, something for which Mars has already demonstrated a deft touch, will continue to be bad for Ole Miss. First comes the NCAA…
The timetable will make for a fascinating season for Ole Miss. Because the committee isn’t likely to release its decision until November or later, Ole Miss probably won’t have to make any tough decisions regarding Freeze this season. The NCAA’s head coach responsibility legislation gives the committee the ability to suspend Freeze, but the season could be over before the ruling comes down.
… then comes discovery, right in the heart of recruiting closing season.
The NCAA suddenly shouldn’t be Ole Miss’ biggest worry. Unless the lawsuit is somehow dropped, it can end one of two ways: Ole Miss settling or the case going to trial.
I can guarantee you Ole Miss doesn’t want depositions under oath made public that would lay out everything. For better or worse, the NCAA process is secret.
See what I mean by Ole Miss being sloppy? The NCAA case is expected to be decided during the season, likely in November. A trial open to the public would be later — and messier.
Trial? The NCAA can tell you that what comes trickling out of sworn depositions can be just as deadly for the cause. There’s no way the school wants Freeze or Bjork going under oath in this.
You’d say it’s ripe for settlement, except one thing that appears to be motivating Nutt is an apology. Nothing that’s happened so far indicates Ole Miss is prepared to acknowledge anyone there has done something wrong, other than Barney Farrar. Hey, wait a minute — maybe they can get Barney to apologize for everything!
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.
Houston Nutt’s attorney is threatening to sue Ole Miss for defamation.
If an acknowledgement and apology isn’t forthcoming, the possibility of a defamation suit against Ole Miss remains in play according to Nutt’s very persistent attorney, Thomas Mars.
“I would hope this wouldn’t become a legal situation,” Mars said. “But if the university doesn’t recognize at some point the damage that’s been done … I would like to think the appropriate action will be taken.
“This was a smear campaign. If it weren’t so deceitful and morally wrong, it would probably go down in college football history as one of the best trick plays ever.”
Gawd, yes, bring it on.
As I often do when the Nuttster’s name is invoked, I can’t help but wonder what Pork Rind Jimmy is up to these days.