Life at the University of Mississippi would be so much easier for Hugh Freeze if the most notable thing surrounding the football program was having one of the top tailgates in the country. Instead, nowadays, when folks hear about the Ole Miss Rebels it’s usually in association with some sort of scandal or NCAA investigation.
On Thursday evening, head football coach — or rather, former head football coach — Freeze was the latest scandalous domino to fall from grace, resigning from his position effective immediately.
According to ESPN, which spoke to Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork, “school officials found a pattern that included phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service.” In fact, as Bjork told ESPN separately, after looking deeper into Freeze’s phone records, dating back as far as 2012, school officials found a “pattern” that was “troubling.”
Over the course of tenure at Ole Miss (2017 would’ve marked his sixth season as head coach), Freeze went 39-25 (.609 winning percentage), won three bowl games, including the 2016 Sugar Bowl, and led the Rebels to victories over Nick Saban’s Alabama squad twice in three years.
This level of success helped Freeze become one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. Unfortunately, just because a person is successful doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
During Thursday night’s press conference addressing the move, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter noted that “while Coach Freeze served our university well in many regards during his tenure, we simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered.”
Oddly enough, the “one-minute call from a university-issued phone to a number associated with a female escort service,” (as reported by USA Today), came to light during discovery stemming from a civil law suit against Freeze and Ole Miss — filed in federal court last week — by former Rebels head coach Houston Nutt. How’s that for Shakespearean?
In the meantime, assistant head coach Matt Luke will serve as the team’s interim head coach. Here’s to hoping he makes better choices than his two predecessors.