Hugh Freeze Resigns as Ole Miss Football Coach Amid Admission of Personal Misconduct

Hugh_FreezeCoach Hugh Freeze exits Vaught-Hemmingway field with a victory over Wofford, Sept. 2016. (Photo by Russ Jones)

by Russ Jones

Ole Miss Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze has resigned his position effective immediately after a five year run.

At a press conference in Oxford earlier this evening Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Athletic Director Ross Bjork broke the news , which also aired on ESPNews and the SEC Network. Vitter and Bjork detailed the chronicle of events that led to Freeze’s resignation claiming it had nothing to do with the pending NCAA investigation, but connected to personal moral failures.

“This is a sad day for the University of Mississippi,” said Vitter. “Coach Freeze resigned this afternoon after confirming a pattern of misconduct inconsistent with the standard of this university.”

Bjork explained that a call to a Detroit area code affiliated with a Florida-based escort service had been detected last week on Freeze’s university issued phone that raised questions about personal misconduct.

“We initially attributed this call to a misdialed number,” said Bjork. “We proactively looked into the rest of his phone records. The analysis turned up a concerning pattern.”

Neal McCready, publisher of RebelGrove.com, contends University of Mississippi administrators might have been looking for a way to separate from Freeze.

“As RebelGrove.com reported in early January, the NCAA always targeted Freeze. It’s my opinion the investigators in the case always wanted Freeze’s scalp. Ole Miss officials were skeptical of that and _ at least publicly _ vociferously defended Freeze throughout the process.

Perhaps they had no choice. Freeze led Ole Miss to back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl games, losing to TCU in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve 2014 and then defeating Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day 2016. Freeze enjoyed significant booster support, and make no mistake, that support was in part based on the image he portrayed. A segment of the Ole Miss fan base believed the NCAA was attacking Freeze based on his constant public declarations of faith, and so the school appeared to dig in, ready to go to the mat with the NCAA sometime in August or September.”

Others speculate a lawsuit filed by former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is what ultimately brought down Freeze.

Houston_Nutt

Courtesy CBS Sports

His attorney’s filed his complaint in a U.S. District Court in Mississippi, claiming that the Rebels and then coach Hugh Freeze wrongly pinned their problems on Nutt. The former Ole Miss coach further maintains Rebel administrators did that in part through strategic leaks to reporters covering the team:

“Coach Freeze had knowingly lied to the journalists and recruiting prospects by saying that the NCAA’s investigation had little, if anything, to do with him or his coaching staff and was instead focused on alleged rules violations by Coach Nutt’s staff.

Assistant Head Coach Matt Luke has been named Interim Head Coach.”

According to SB Nation, “Nutt’s complaint cites reports by journalists from Yahoo!, Rivals, Fox Sports, the Associated Press, ESPN, and Mississippi talk radio.”

Matt Luke has been named the interim head coach. Luke is a graduate of Ole Miss, and was the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the University of Mississippi.

While the Ole Miss football program is plagued with uncertainty – what is certain – prayers are in order for Ole Miss, players, Hugh Freeze and his family as well as wisdom in navigating the days ahead.

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