Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With Hugh Freeze out, Ole Miss has to ask: Was it worth it?

Hugh Freeze built a very good football team. He built it on shifting sand. Even when Freeze and Ole Miss were gracing New Year's Six bowls, the widespread belief was that his program was subject to immediate collapse. The collapse has come.

Ole Miss just announced that Freeze has resigned as coach. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that a number traced to Freeze's cell phone had been linked to an escort service. The call lasted one minute. Freeze said it was a misdial. Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork said Thursday night it was part of a pattern and that the coach would have been fired -- with the school invoking the "moral turpitude" clause in his contract -- had he not resigned.

Add it up: The various issues of the Nkemdiche brothers, Robert and Denzel; the infamous video of Laremy Tunsil and his gas mask; Tunsil's allegations that Ole Miss staffers afforded impermissible benefits, meaning money; former coach Houston Nutt's lawsuit charging that Freeze, via off-the-record sessions with reporters, had besmirched his reputation; and -- last but nowhere near least -- an NCAA investigation that spawned charges of Freeze's "failure to monitor" his jerry-built program and a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017. Ole Miss rose really fast; it has fallen even faster. That's how these things work.

Everyone wondered how Freeze attracted recruits on the order of R. Nkemdiche and Tunsil to Oxford, Miss. Everyone wondered if the school of Vaught and Archie and Eli had become a rogue outfit, which is something a program in the high and mighty SEC cannot be for long.

Well, now we know. Freeze is out. He beat Alabama two years running, which was something. What those in Oxford have to ask -- and will be asking for a very long time -- is this: Was it worth it?

From May 2016: Ole Miss' troubles aren't nearly at an end.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.