Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Hugh Freeze out at Ole Miss for wrong reasons -- but at least he's out


Hugh Freeze is out of a job. Just not for the right reasons.

It's not because of the 21 NCAA allegations of misconduct against current or former member of the football coaching staff, which he oversees. It's not because of alleged cash payments of $13,000 to $15,000 from boosters to players or the NCAA's charge of "lack of institutional control" of the program. It's not because Ole Miss created a false narrative by trying to pin all of the problems on former coach Houston Nutt.

Why is Freeze out of a job? Because he phoned an escort service. Probably more than once. Probably more than phoned. Whatever.

Strange how the karma train catches up to people at some point.

Bobby Petrino falls off a motorcycle with a girl on the back and his world crumbled. Hugh Freeze denies left and right to the media and the NCAA that he did anything wrong. But in the administration's transparent attempt to protect their highly successful football coach, they initially deny wrongdoing, then reportedly claim in conversations with selected media members that most infractions occurred in the previous regime under Nutt, then are found to be liars about pretty much everything when the the NCAA investigation is released.

It all caught up to Freeze and Ole Miss when Nutt filed a lawsuit against both parties, claiming they orchestrated a smear campaign. In discovery for that lawsuit, Freeze's phone records reveal a phone call to an escort service and, in the words of athletic director Ross Bjork: “We looked into the rest of the phone records and we found a pattern of misconduct. It appeared to be a concerning pattern."

So Freeze resigned before they fired him. Resigned ... with no buyout or cash settlement over any kind, according to Bjork.

But let's get real here. Freeze isn't out of a job because Ole Miss suddenly realized he wasn't a Boy Scout, any more than Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino because he cheated on his wife and can't drive a motorcycle. Freeze is gone because the humiliation over this mess has gotten to be too much for even shallow people like Bjork and chancellor Jeffrey Vitter to handle.

Personal dirt is a messy thing to control. Ole Miss officials can shake their fists at the NCAA and cry injustice over allegations from now until forever. They can do that because they're largely speaking to their fan base, particularly the ones who write big checks. But when one gets into something more personal and, shall we say, less palatable to some folks in the Bible belt, it's far more difficult to spin.

I don't care about Freeze's personal life. That's between he and his family and his higher power. But I know that if even a fraction of the NCAA allegations are true -- and the school already has signed off on many -- he deserves to be out of a job. So for that matter do any Ole Miss officials who were complicit in enabling him, covering up for him and lying for him.

Hugh Freeze might be out of a job for the wrong reasons. But at least he's out.

Earlier on this subject: Ole Miss wants us to believe Hugh Freeze knew nothing of infractions

Earlier today: Let sale begin: Braves close to trading Jaime Garcia to Minnesota

Earlier today: There's one Atlanta team in serious playoff contention -- and it plays soccer

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A writer's dozen pre-vacation ramblings


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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.