Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rick Cleveland answers Ole Miss questions

The Answer Man returns to answer all the questions folks are asking about the Ole Miss football situation:


Q. Did you see last week's news about Hugh Freeze coming?

A. No. It blind-sided me. I have read where rumors were circling in Oxford of an off-the-field controversy that might take Hugh Freeze down. I had heard none of those, other than those involving the NCAA investigation. I was as floored as anyone when I learned about the other.

Q. Do you think Freeze will coach again?

A. I'd bet on it. Louisville pays Bobby Petrino nearly $4 million a year to coach football and the scandal that brought him down at Arkansas surely rivals anything we know about Freeze. That said, much will depend on what the NCAA ultimately decides where Freeze is concerned. Should he receive a show/cause, then it will make it tougher for him to get another college job any time soon. But the guy can coach. He connects with his players. He can motivate. He can recruit.



Q. Would any of this come to light had it not been for former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt's lawsuit?

A. Perhaps it would have down the road, but certainly not now if not for Nutt's federal lawsuit. It was Nutt's lawyer who brought to light the call to an escort service.

Q. So what do you think of Nutt's lawsuit? Can he win?

A. I am no legal expert but I'd be shocked. He's blaming Ole Miss for his not being able to land another coaching job since he was fired at Ole Miss. You ask me, his record at Ole Miss has far, far more to do with why he hasn't landed another job.

Listen, the Ole Miss football program was an utter mess after Nutt. I know. I covered it. And this is from a guy who wrote (in 2008) that Ole Miss had the best of both worlds, in that it had Houston Nutt coaching and Ed Orgeron's recruits.

Problem was, Nutt ran out of Orgeron's recruits and didn't add many quality ones of his own. Ironically, Freeze helped recruit many of the players who helped Nutt win a bunch of games. After going 9-4 and 9-4 and winning two Cotton Bowls in his first two seasons, Nutt went 4-8 and then 2-10. His last two Ole Miss teams won one SEC game and lost 15, including 14 straight. You ask me, that record, 6-18 and 1-15, kept Nutt from getting a job more than anything anybody from Ole Miss said about him.

What's more, Ole Miss wrote Nutt a $4.35 million check. That payoff didn't come over a number of years, as so many do. It came in one lump sum.

Nutt won one conference game over his last two seasons, was paid $4.35 million to go away, and now he's suing. I guess he could win, but he better be glad I'm not on the jury. (KF: or practicing law.  Did he actually read the complaint?)

Q. Ole Miss named Matt Luke as the interim coach. Your take on Luke?

A. This was a good move. Luke is a solid coach, a solid guy – and, right now, Ole Miss needs solid. I covered him as a player when, as a center, he started 33 games over four seasons as an under-sized overachiever and then when he immediately joined David Cutcliffe's first staff at Ole Miss as a grad assistant. He has moved up the coaching ladder since then with stops at Murray State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Duke and then Ole Miss again. His reputation is that of a coach players both like and respect.

He's the best guy to try and hold this thing together, and it would not shock me at all if at some point Ole Miss removes the interim tag.

Q. Do you see the Freeze resignation/firing affecting the Ole Miss/NCAA situation?

A. Hard to say, but I don't see any way it would hurt Ole Miss in regards to the NCAA investigation. It has seemed to me all along that the NCAA had its sights set on Freeze. He's no longer there.


Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

KF, Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Nutt's case revolve around a breach of contract on the part of Ole Miss (Don't badmouth me), not "Ole Miss is keeping me from getting a job?"

Amazed at the number of people saying this.

Anonymous said...

And people, even in the press refer to it as a defamation suit, and it is not.

If Briarcrest rumors have any legs, Freeze will not be coaching any where ever again.

Anonymous said...

I believe 12:32 is correct. Nutt's argument is that their severance agreement prohibited Ole Miss from talking bad about him.

Also, the news about Freeze was not a surprise. I had no knowledge or even suspicion that escorts would be involved, but Freeze had been shown to be a liar and a cheater the entire time he was at Ole Miss. He had spent his entire career being untruthful, so nothing would shock me.

He was busted by the NCAA when he was in his first year under Orgeron. He denied having an altercation with a fan after then A&M game (it was caught on tape), he falsely claimed Denzel Nkimdiche went on a mission trip when really he was in Panama City cussing and calling folks ni##As. He knew Annalise Presley, which was a fake twitter account to entice recruits. Freeze was the slimiest, sleeziest of all scumbags.

Anonymous said...

Self-serving garbage as Cleveland seeks (desperately) to insert himself as some sort of f'ing Swami.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 12:32 you are correct, but never let facts get in the way of a good witch hunt. It has to do when both parties terminate a contract like a coaching contract, Nutt isn't to slander OM and OM isn't to talk bad about OM. This piece screams of someone from, in, or around the OM community asking Bobby Cleveland to write anything that may help save face of this dumpster fire.

Anonymous said...

One thing is absolutely certain: Rick Cleveland is no legal expert.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I would rather read about Bracey vs Yarber, which is a true embarrassment to the entire state. Why are no other media outlets talking about that?

Anonymous said...

Yes, hate to see someone like Rick who should be more knowledgeable about Nutts lawsuit. I also marvel that people continue to say that Freeze is such a good recruiter when everyone know he is a dirty recruiter. Rick knows better , he is too close with Ole Miss people to be totally honest.

Anonymous said...

How many rebel football players have left or transferred because of this mess?

Anonymous said...

"He can recruit." Well, yeah......not legally. But, yeah.

Anonymous said...

The half truths and intentional misleading statements continue from the news media. There is
no doubt which side of the fence he is on. The lack of accurate, unbiased coverage over the last
five years has contributed greatly to the terrible situation OM is in right now, and it seems they have
no intention of changing their ways.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting to see what's going to be done about the "stay" . If you and I had persuaded a judge we would be in prison. That's not the case when most of your attorneys and judges come from UM. This stinks high to heaven with illegality.

Let me see...maybe numerous attorneys are on the list along with judges, businessmen and maybe even a former well known QB?

Anonymous said...

The Season is back on Netflix. Second season episode 4 has a classic exchange between a top player and a counselor. "I think I'm in love with Ole Miss. And their women." About the eleven minute mark. Of course Brittany tells him it's a party school with beautiful women. Typical state grad with a complex.

No Damned Comparison Goobers.. said...

Petrino, with a girlfriend on the back of his motor scooter, rivals all the shit Hugh Freeze did? Please gimme a farkin' break!

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Last Chance U

Anonymous said...

I enjoy college sports, football, basketball, baseball. Even played one for a couple of years. MSU fans (I.m one) don't forget we lost a couple of really good men's BB coaches because of a similar affliction. Although neither spent time claiming their morality, quoting scripture and posing. BUT.....II don't let what 5 or 9 or 11 kids do on Saturday or Monday or any other day control my life. I enjoy it when we win hate it when we lose but neither have an impact on my life. Freeze has let a lot of people down mos important his wife and children. He got caught and now it's time for him to serve penance



Anonymous said...

Is ole miss still "red shirting miss American's" or are we subbing that out these days as it appears?

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Rick fan but multiple statements by him on here show how misinformed he is on this whole situation.

Anonymous said...

Dan Mullens owns this state! Hail State!!

Anonymous said...


@July 26, 2017 at 7:00 PM "He got caught and now it's time for him to serve penance".
Wow, really? I didn't know God was a JJ reader.




Anonymous said...

Get a new "Answer Man".

Anonymous said...

Hugh freeze deserves what he gets. Uncle rick please retire!! Soon!!!

Anonymous said...

Hugh freeze deserves what he gets. Uncle rick please retire!! Soon!!!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that RC talks of Nutt's early Ole Miss teams winning with Orgeron's recruited players, and then how it was Freeze as an asst. coach under Orgeron that recruited many of those players. And then this whole scenario involving recruiting violations and cheating at Ole Miss under Freeze as its head coach. There were some interesting recruiting rumors going around during Ed O's time there as well: maybe there is a constant thread in all of this. It took Ole Miss 3 seasons to win 9 games under Orgeron, then pulls B2B 9-win seasons under Nutt with the talent that Orgeron and Freeze brought to Oxford. Perhaps the cheating at Ole Miss goes back further than we suspect???

Also, this Matt Luke was an assistant under Freeze all this time: who's to say that the cheating will stop with him at the helm now? It may be all he knows how to recruit, learning at the knee of Hugh....

Anonymous said...

6:41 said " Perhaps the cheating at Ole Miss goes back further than we suspect???". I don't think that's possible buddy. How many years have they had football up there?

Anonymous said...


Cheating is tradition for the bears. It's part of their culture.

If you will cheat at girl's track you will cheat at anything.

Cleveland drinks the punch. He's a get along ass kisser, not a journalist.

I went to school out of state,fwiw.

Anonymous said...

6:41, They’ve been cheating up there ever since Labove sent those football shoes to his grandmother.

Wilkins said...

Now we are getting somewhere:


Dan Wolken

@DanWolken
NEWS: Tom Mars now pursuing records related to a burner phone in Yuma, AZ that appears multiple times in Hugh Freeze's records, he tells me,

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