It makes sense, from a certain standpoint, why Ole Miss would want to keep Hugh Freeze.
“I stand here today owning the mistakes, but that is what they are and not some staff out trying to buy players.”
“We have made some mistakes. We are being punished for those mistakes, and we do not intend ever to be in this situation again.”
If you’re an Ole Miss fan, and you’ve been a fan of the program for 30+ years, it makes sense why you would want the school to keep Hugh Freeze.
He’s a part of the Ole Miss family.
He’s “one of the guys.”
Same as Billy Brewer.
The History on Billy Brewer
After the 1986 football season, Brewer’s 4th season (and Chancellor Gerald Turner’s 2nd year), Ole Miss was hit with some pretty hefty NCAA violations. The only article I’ve found online that goes back that far is from the LA Times, and this is what they stated:
Dec 6th, 1986 – AP – OXFORD, Miss. — The National Collegiate Athletic Assn. hit the University of Mississippi football program with a one-year suspension from postseason play and live television Friday and took away 10 scholarships for next season.
In addition, two Rebel players–star wide receiver J.R. Ambrose and backup fullback Johnny Boatman–were declared ineligible.
The sanctions followed a two-year investigation by the NCAA and the school. The 10-page report listed violations of NCAA requirements and “questionable practices” in the recruitment of football players.
“We have made some mistakes,” Coach Billy Brewer told a news conference. “We are being punished for those mistakes, and we do not intend ever to be in this situation again.“
The sanctions also bar Ole Miss from conducting its annual football camp next summer and in 1988. The school had earlier told the NCAA that its camp was being dropped for two years because of violations uncovered.
The school kept Brewer, went 3-8 the next season, and then carried on about its business.
Ole Miss fans, players, and boosters LOVED Billy Brewer.
In 1993, the school was hit with allegations from the NCAA again.
This time, Chancellor Turner had enough of Brewer, even though the fans and boosters wanted the school to keep him. In July 1994, athletic director Warner Alford resigned, and Turner fired Brewer one day later, before fall camp for the 1994 season even started.
What does that have to do with Freeze?
Most fans, media, etc, have not been able to understand why the school has not fired Hugh Freeze already.
Why not throw yourselves at the mercy of the NCAA, sacrifice the coach, and hope that cutting ties with him lessens the severity of the sanctions?
It’s quite simple for Ole Miss fans. They’ve already sacrificed a coach once, and it didn’t work.
Turner fired Brewer in July 1994. The AD also resigned. They cleaned house.
November 18, 1994 – Jackson Clarion-Ledger: AP – OXFORD, Miss. – NCAA sanctions levied yesterday against the University of Mississippi football program might cripple it for years.
The NCAA infractions committee found Mississippi guilty of 15 violations. They ranged from a lack of institutional control to offers of cash, plane tickets and cars to prospects by staff members and boosters.
Because Mississippi was penalized for similar acts in 1986, the NCAA showed no leniency, said David Swank, University of Oklahoma law professor and chairman of the committee on infractions.
“This is one of the most serious cases we’ve had since I’ve been a member of the committee,” said Swank, in his fourth year as infractions committee chairman.
The committee placed Mississippi on probation for four years, banned it from postseason play for two years, banned it from playing in televised games for one year, and slashed the number of new players Mississippi can put on scholarship the next two years from 25 to 13 per year.
The scholarship reduction was the most severe levied against a Division I-A school since Southern Methodist University was barred from offering any scholarships or fielding a team in 1987 and ’88.
The committee also found former football coach Billy Brewer guilty of unethical conduct, a charge not contained in the original letter of inquiry. The committee imposed a penalty that all but bars Brewer from another NCAA coaching job for four years.
Brewer’s attorney said he would continue with plans for a lawsuit against Ole Miss seeking compensation for the final three years of Brewer’s contract.
Ole Miss has been here before.
Oh, and did I mention they were sued by Billy Brewer for it?
The Billy Brewer lawsuit
In 1999, Brewer won a lawsuit against the University of Mississippi because the school only offered him a 30 days of severance pay instead of the 3 years he had remaining on his contract.
Interesting note — Brewer’s lawyer in that case was the Jim Waide, out of Tupelo. The same lawyer who represented David Saunders in a lawsuit against Ole Miss in 2011 when Pete Boone, the AD at the time, refused to hire Saunders into a position promised to him by Houston Nutt.
R. Gerald Turner left Ole Miss in June of 1995. Many believe the backlash from firing Billy Brewer is what made him decide to leave. I would imagine his thinking was “If you can’t fire a football coach, even after all of those NCAA violations, and the sanctions that had been placed on the school, then what else can you do?”
In the current Ole Miss case, Hugh Freeze is only “alleged” to have committed some violations, and the Houston Nutt lawsuit has yet to be proven.
Ole Miss cannot fire Hugh Freeze “with cause” just yet.
The Bottom Line
Ole Miss is basically telling the NCAA that if they don’t make it to where Ole Miss can fire Freeze without additional pay, they are going to keep him.
Because if you’re going to get hammered by NCAA sanctions anyway, why not stick with the guy that is buddies with your boosters and has proven he can beat Nick Saban?
Get caught up with our other stories on the Ole Miss vs NCAA mess: