Maybe things are finally going to change at Ole Miss, but until we actually see that, perhaps we should rename it for what it is: A-Mess.
Just forty-four days before the start of last season, Hugh Freeze resigned as head football coach amid allegations of personal misconduct. It didn’t help that the football program was already under NCAA scrutiny.
Freeze resigned when an unexpected event revealed that he was using his school-issued cell phone to make dates—with prostitutes. U of M administrators were perplexed. Apparently, they had never considered the inclusion of prostitutes for achieving school objectives.
Add to that the ongoing threats of NCAA sanctions and you certainly have yourself quite a handful of a very sticky mess.
Those threats of NCAA sanctions have been echoing in Oxford since Houston Nutt was head coach from 2008-2011. When he was dismissed and Hugh Freeze replaced him, the new coach noticed some questionable programs whirring in the background but, as he admitted, he did nothing to stop them. Some think he figured to blame those on his predecessor, Houston Nutt.
As you might expect, chestnuts on an open fire have nothing on Houston when it comes to getting heated and he filed a lawsuit that said Hugh Freeze had damaged Houston and, by extension, the Nutt family, although it offered no assessment of how much Houston might have already damaged his own Nutts.
Eighteen months ago, Hugh Freeze tried to tell us that he had shielded his players from the shrapnel of NCAA investigations and the lawsuit. He said, “Our players don’t have a clue about the lawsuit” which was odd because that statement was given to the Oxford (Mississippi) Eagle and ESPN.com’s national news service.
Freeze likes to posture himself as a good Christian boy and, yeah, I suppose he is. I mean, he’s either too Christian to be a very good liar, or he just hasn’t practiced enough.
Or perhaps he miscalculated that even little lies are sins and using a company cell phone for personal purposes is actually, sort of, a crime; you know, like Theft of Services or something.
I’m all for second chances but first, let me ask you this:
If you were making $5-mil a year with NO buyout should you commit a personal indiscretion, do you think it might cross your mind to use .0004 of your income to have a private and secret cell phone? In an effort to save $2000, Hugh Freeze forfeited $5-million.
Remember that “unexpected event” that exposed his cell phone indiscretions? Well, that came in the form of a lawsuit, but not just any lawsuit, because in the front pocket of that suit was a Freedom of Information Act demanding phone records to substantiate that Freeze had conducted a smear campaign. Of course, we now know that the suit also exposed the prostitutes, so-to-speak.
Since the suit was filed in 2016, you might be wondering what happened to it.
I’m shaking my head as I tell you this, but the Nutt case was thrown out of court because, of all things, it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction—not just ANY wrong jurisdiction, but rather it was filed in federal court.
I can’t help myself. I have to say that again. Federal court.
Even an attorney with a diploma from Fruit-Loop-U knows better. But then, why would we expect anything more once we learned that the attorney handling these Nutts is named “Mars”.
Insert Twilight Zone music.
Undaunted by federal rejection, Mr. Mars tried again. This time, he filed the case in the correct court and included a demand for monetary damages. A week later, he filed the case again only this time, he didn’t seek monetary damages. Instead, he just wanted U of M to apologize to Mr. Nutt. That apology will be a long time coming because those U of M admins don’t think they should glad-hand anyone who they believe had damaged their football program.
It’s just my personal opinion—and one rendered from a distance—but it seems to me if anyone should be apologizing, it should be Mars apologizing to the Nutts.
I have one more question and this time it’s for the people of Mississippi and please be honest: Is this like normal life for you? It’s crazy! And listen, if I find it crazy, then you know you’ve got a problem because I live in California.
The case is still unresolved but I suspect we will hear more of this A-Mess and I suppose the fallout from it might resound in Oxford forever or at least until, well, until Mars Freezes over.