Paul Finebaum appeared on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Thursday and discussed his feelings on what is to come in the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss. Saturday Down South reported on that appearance.
I am not going to disagree with everything that Finebaum brought up on the show.
As a matter of fact, I agree with the majority of it.
Here were his statements, as documented by Cody McClure of SaturdayDownSouth.com.
“I love this conference and this is where I make most of my living, but I really fear what is about to happen,” Finebaum said. “These two schools meet on Thanksgiving, that’s not what I’m talking about. Somewhere probably after that, because I’ve heard that the committee is not going to release the findings before the game for the safety of everyone.”
The SEC Network radio host added that Ole Miss will “probably get slammed” by the NCAA and the situation between the in-state rivals will only intensify, the report said.
“When this decision comes out, Ole Miss fans, I believe are going to go scorched earth. I’ve seen this before between Alabama and Auburn,” Finebaum said. “It’s already a bad situation and I think it’s going to continue to grow and get much uglier.”
I believe that Finebaum is correct, regarding Ole Miss probably getting “slammed” by the NCAA, but does that really mean that the situation between Ole Miss and Mississippi State will intensify?
We know the rivalry between Alabama and Aubun has always been filled with hate, but we like to think that there’s a mutual respect between fanbases. The respect is between administrations. The fans still hate each other. Sometimes they hate other fans of their teams (if they don’t care enough when their team loses – like the Alabama fan that killed another Alabama fan after the Kick 6 in 2013).
There are also the crazy fans that actually attempt to hurt players from the rival teams, like Auburn’s fans on their Rivals.com site back in 2011 discussing trying to cause car accidents with Alabama football players. Or the fans of rivals who bet on their team, and then somebody ends up shooting somebody, like with South Carolina and Clemson back in 2006.
Mississippi State Scout.com writer, and author of the new book “Flim Flam,” (which details the NCAA investigation against Ole Miss), Steve Robertson, has received death threats online from Ole Miss fans since digging into the NCAA case against the Rebels, so the rivalry is already heating up more than usual.
RebelGrove.com’s Neal McCready detailed to me, on Wednesday’s Podcast #133, about how personal the rivalry between Ole Miss and Miss St had gotten, even between coaching staffs.
Things have definitely escalated in the Magnolia state.
What I’m most curious about is Finebaum’s statement on when the sanctions would be released.
“…I’ve heard that the committee is not going to release the findings before the game for the safety of everyone.”
Pat Forde initially stated this, so it’s possible that Finebaum read that information and took it for fact. Forde wrote this in his Sept 11th “Forde-Yard Dash:”
“As dramatically weird as this all might be, we won’t get a ruling anytime soon. Rest assured, the NCAA isn’t going to be saying anything before the Egg Bowl game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State on Nov. 23 – no need to further stoke that out-of-control fire. The Rebels and their former coaches will not learn their fate until the last week of November at the earliest.”
So the NCAA’s COI won’t release the sanctions until after the Egg Bowl? If they wait until the Monday after Thanksgiving, that would be an unprecedented 11 weeks after the COI hearing.
The time-table says they will be released in 6-8 weeks after the COI hearing. 6 weeks would be the week of Oct 23rd. 8 Weeks would be the Week of Nov 6th.
Forde, along with USA Today’s Dan Wolken, is widely regarded, by Ole Miss supporters, as the NCAA’s PR guy. They feel like Forde and Wolken get information from the NCAA (although Wolken vehemently denies that’s the case), so they think that Ole Miss officials leaking information is justified.
Honestly, under normal circumstances, the NCAA would announce the penalties on time and there would be no other issues.
But let’s compare what Ole Miss has done against Rutgers, who was punished for violations this week.
Ole Miss’s first NOA from the NCAA was received on Jan 22nd, 2016. News of this was not released by the school. It was released by Pat Forde on Jan 29th, right before a huge recruiting weekend in Oxford. Immediately, Hugh Freeze, Ross Bjork and Kyle Campbell started calling media outlets (Bruce Feldman, Neal McCready, Steven Godfrey, etc), feeding them misinformation about the case, stating that it doesn’t really involve the current coaching staff, and there would be no real issues going forward.
You never heard a word from the Ole Miss administration in 2016 until well after National Signing Day. Vitter, Freeze and Bjork were placed in front of cameras (remember the infamous “hostage video” in 2017?) to spout the company line and tell everyone how much they were cooperating with the NCAA.
In the Rutgers case, the public learned about their NOA in information provided to the media by the school on Dec 20th at 1pm, immediately after they received it.
Rutgers didn’t wait on lawyers to respond before the media would know about the allegations.
Immediately following the release that there was an NOA, Rutgers President, Robert Barchis, released a letter (that same day at 1:46pm) detailing all the charges and what the school had already done to correct the issues. They had suspended former coach Kyle Flood 3 games during the 2016 season, and had already fired him, after doing their own review, before the NOA ever arrived.
Rutgers’ administration was involved, cooperated moreso than Ole Miss has, and were STILL hit with a “failure to monitor” charge.
The way Rutgers handled their level 2 allegations gives us a very recent example of what cooperation really is, and what involvement and “control” by the administration should actually look like.
As I said before, under normal circumstances, the NCAA COI would release the sanctions within the normal 6-8 weeks. Because of that, I initially believed that there would be no way the NCAA would wait to release sanctions.
If the NCAA is really worried about safety during a rivalry game, they could release the sanctions privately to the school, and not release them publicly until after the rivalry game.
That would help the school to move forward with their coaching search. Delaying the findings hurts that process.
Here’s the problem, though.
Ole Miss has proven, time and time again, that any information given to them will be leaked to media sources. And who knows if it will be fact or not, considering the brass at Ole Miss have shown that they will absolutely provide misinformation to spread their narrative.
If the NCAA is frustrated with Ole Miss for their lack of cooperation, their leaks to the press, and their spreading of misinformation, this case really could have become so personal that the NCAA legitimately might wait an extra month before publicly releasing the sanctions.
If we get all the way to the Rebels’ game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sat, Nov 11th without hearing anything from the NCAA, you can bet that the news will not be good for Ole Miss.
While precedent states that the NCAA would, under normal circumstances, release this information by the week of Nov. 6th at the latest, nothing about this case has been normal, and (I’ve said this at least 1000 times) the NCAA is not a court of law.
Get caught up with our other stories on the Ole Miss vs NCAA mess: