Mark Bradley

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

Even more fun in the mighty SEC: The NCAA slams Ole Miss 

At last check, the SEC – the league where It Just Means More – still plans to play its conference championship Saturday beneath the unmoving roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As of noon Friday, some who had gathered in said building were wondering if the famous slogan needs changing.

The SEC: It Just Gets Worse.

First came word that Tennessee, while has become the football version of “This Is Spinal Tap,” fired athletic director John Currie, who managed to contact every coach with a playbook and not hire any of them. (To be fair, he tried to hire Greg Schiano and got shouted down.) Then news broke that Ole Miss, which saw coach Hugh Freeze leave in the wake of both an NCAA investigation and reports that he had been a frequent caller to escort services, was slugged by an NCAA that rarely slugs anybody anymore. (Hello there, North Carolina.) 

Ole Miss gets another year’s bowl ban to tack onto this season’s self-imposed one, which means its rising seniors can leave without penalty. You’ll recall the exodus of Penn State players after the NCAA’s post-Sandusky sanctions. Something similar surely will happen in Oxford. 

Among media folks, that had become something of a Talking Point: Would it be better for Ole Miss to get the death penalty – not play for a year – rather than have to play without some of its seniors and being hamstrung via sanctions, some self-imposed, in the effort to recruit replacements, with the alternative being playing with a depleted roster in the SEC West, which isn’t to be confused with the SEC East, and going 0-8? The consensus was that the death penalty would be worse, but maybe only slightly. 

In other news, Georgia Tech could be declared ex post facto champ of the 2013 Music City Bowl and Kirby Smart’s first loss as Georgia’s coach could be washed away. Both locals lost to Ole Miss, which now faces forfeiture of every game in which it used a player deemed to have been ineligible, which should cover every Ole Miss game coached by Freeze. 

Four Ole Miss staffers – one assistant AD, one head of operations, two assistant coaches – received dreaded show-cause penalties in increments ranging from two to eight years. As for Freeze himself, he’ll have to serve a two-game penalty if any school hires him as head coach between now and Dec. 1, 2018. Like any school would. 

Except: Tennessee does still need a coach. Just sayin’.

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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.