Ole Miss got hammered.
Hugh Freeze got off easy.
Freeze can go on to somewhere else, like Tennessee or South Alabama, and coach this next season by only having to sit out two conference games. That’s it.
He’s essentially free to go.
Meanwhile, the football program that Freeze was in charge of at Ole Miss got hammered for violations that occurred under his leadership and responsibility with penalties severe enough that they will impact the university for years to come if appeal isn’t fruitful.
It isn’t picking on Freeze. Good for him.
Ole Miss, in its defense with the NCAA of allegations of recruiting violations in the university’s football program, successfully argued that Freeze ran a culture of compliance. Thus, the former head coach is, for the most part, excused, with only that two-game conference suspension attached after years of the program he led being under an NCAA cloud.
Many of his former assistant coaches, those sworn to loyal duty under Freeze, didn’t fare so well, facing show-cause orders that will ban some of them from coaching in college for years.
But if Freeze was compliant as the football leader, how does the university end up with lack of institutional control? It doesn’t add up, NCAA.
Ole Miss, of course, faces another bowl ban, costing the program millions of dollars and scholarship losses, setting the program back for years since recruiting will be impacted and depth is required to win in the Southeastern Conference football.
The NCAA even went so far as to label Ole Miss a habitual cheater in football on the record.
“The (NCAA committee) noted the case was the result of a culture at the university where rules violations were acceptable in the football program and reminiscent of similar Ole Miss infractions cases in the past,” said the NCAA in its release announcing sanctions.
The NCAA also said Hugh Freeze, the former Rebel head coach, “failed to monitor the program, allowing his staff to knowingly commit a series of recruiting violations, submit false information on recruiting paperwork and not report known violations.”
But so much for that, since all he got from the NCAA is a two-game suspension from coaching in conference games.
It’s Ole Miss and Freeze assistants that are paying the heavy price, with show-cause orders and bowl bans and scholarship losses.
Ultimately, of course, the NCAA holds its member institutions responsible for playing by the rules. The head coaches come and go, bouncing from one school to another, while those of us who are loyal to the institution first and foremost are left paying the price for their mistakes.
That’s why this year or next, Hugh Freeze will be coaching somewhere else, without a bowl ban and scholarship losses. He’ll probably end up in a bowl.
Ole Miss, meanwhile, will suffer the brunt force of the NCAA’s punishing might for years to come — its football team led by coaches who did nothing wrong, paying the price for what happened under the leadership of others.
David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was last modified on December 5, 2017, 5:22 am