Category Archives: Ole Miss Football

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TO THE VICTOR GO THE SPOILS

Women will tell you sports is a male soap opera.  ESPN is like the guys Lifetime Network, and that’s very true.  College football is very much like the Bachelor, American Idol and Survivor all rolled into one 24 hour reality drama playing out in real-time over a period of months or years, and we can’t get enough.  And you ladies said we don’t have a sensitive side.

You literally could not write a movie script around Hugh Freeze and sell his story to Hollywood.  It’s too corny.  It’s would be considered too contrived.  No one would believe his story.

Eyes would roll at the young boy from rural Mississippi, holding towels on the sideline as his dad coached high school football.  You would yawn as he woke up at 5a.m. every day to help out on the family dairy farm.  You would be bored to tears with his activity in his youth church groups.

Hugh Freeze is not a “Blind Side” character, fumbling around as Sandra Bullock coaches his offensive line.  The Hugh Freeze movie might be boring.  But his is driven, he is focused, he is methodical, he is successful.

Success in college athletics is transferable to success in life.  Every coach at any level of sports will tell you, to be successful and to reach the kids, you have to raise them a little bit, you have to be a mentor, you have to be a father figure, you have to give them a vision, be a shoulder to cry on, shepherd of the flock.

Coach Freeze like a lot of successful people gets a lot of rocks thrown in his window, as a matter of speaking.  Rival schools are convinced he is doing something illegal (but they can’t quite put their finger on what exactly.)  These rivals don’t realize the amount of work he has put in to get a division one coaching job in the most difficult division of the most difficult league.

But it’s not enough to get the job, his work ethic continues as he strives to be the best college football coach he can be.  Hugh Freeze’s success is no less of a transferable tale of how to be successful in life than any other legendary coach.

In barely more than a year he has taken Ole Miss, a mid to low level SEC team, from two wins in the 2011 season to seven wins and a bowl victory in 2012.   He has reclaimed the State of Mississippi from the in-state SEC rival school and made the fans believe and trust him.  He has transformed the image of Ole Miss from an ever-ominous past to the bright light of a modern day.

Winning begets winning.  If you are a hard worker, you get work done.  If you get work done, you complete your goals…. Do I have to make this any easier?

Ole Miss’ explosion on the national recruiting scene this year didn’t occur because Hugh Freeze woke up three weeks ago and started writing checks to recruits mothers or shipping SUV’s out to recruits driveways.

Hugh Freeze and his staff have been working on this class for 14 months or more.  Every day at 5am, instead of doing chores on the dairy farm he is working on bringing talent into Ole Miss and developing existing players for his system that has been proven to work.

He has put in the time and paid the dues to enjoy the spoils of victory.

His vision for Ole Miss has obviously hit home and allowed him to upgrade the talent on his roster, with not only good local talent but some of the best recruits in America.

Robert Nkemdiche:  The overall number one player in the country and the best defensive end/ defensive line prospect.  Ready to enter the rotation on day one.  Discussed as the most dominating player in high school in 5 years, will play with his brother Denzel Nkemdiche, just as they did at Grayson high school in Georgia.

Laquon Treadwell:  The number one wide receiver prospect in the country that has home run speed, catches everything in front of him and along with current wideout Donte Moncrief will be a head ache for SEC defenses.  He will attend Ole Miss to play with his best friend currently on the Ole Miss team Anthony Standifer just as they did back home in Chicago.

Antonio Conner:  The second best safety prospect in America just happened to grow up 15 minutes from Oxford at the national power South Panola high school.

Laremy Tunsil:  The number one offensive line prospect in America who was sold on the vision and excitement and potential that developed during recruiting this year.

This 2013 recruiting class includes 4 of the top 25 prep players anywhere and they could have attended any school they wanted but thanks to family and friendship ties they have decided to play together and enjoy their victories together.

If you think about it, that sounds like the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard and to me would be a lot more valuable than any one time pay-off.

Ole Miss-LSU: An uneven rivalry

Since 1894 and annually since 1945, the Ole Miss Rebels and LSU Tigers have met on the gridiron with the Bayou Bengals holding a 57-39-4 lead in the series. For the Tigers, who have sponsored football since 1893, the Ole Miss rivalry is the second-most played team after the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who has played the Tigers 106 times since their series began in 1896.

And while there’s been scores of memorable games in the rivalry (my favorite Ole Miss-LSU game was the 2003 showdown in Oxford) the thing is that people of a certain age group, mainly south of 30 years old, don’t see the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry the same way that people north of 30 do.

When the SEC split into two divisions in 1992, LSU was able to create new rivalries with teams such as Auburn and Arkansas and more importantly, found a way to be relevant nationally with coaches such as Nick Saban and Les Miles.

Ole Miss, on the other hand, after winning three national titles and a trio of SEC titles in the late 1950’s and 1960’s have managed to fall behind the Tigers in national relevance and more importantly, relevance in the SEC.

Case in point, in the first 29 years of the SEC (1933-1962), the Rebels had the upper hand in conference championships, winning six between 1947 and 1962 while the Tigers won SEC championships in 1935, 1936, 1958, and 1961.

Since 1962 however, LSU has seven conference championships, two national titles, and also an additional appearance in another BCS title game.

The closest Ole Miss ever got to an SEC title since 1962?

The aforementioned 2003 season in which the Rebels, undefeated in conference play lost their home finale to the Bayou Bengals.

Between 1951 and 1970, Ole Miss had a record of 13-5-3 against the Bayou Bengals.

Since 1971, LSU holds a record of 27-13-1 against the Rebels, including a streak of six straight between 2002 and 2007.

Go figure.

 

 

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Who’s doing the better coaching job – Freeze or Mullen?

Roughly 100 miles separate one of the biggest rivalries little known to the rest of the country between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and when each other’s program is on the rise and finding success, the other team’s fans won’t hear any of it. In fact, they will shun you. Write anything good about TSUN (the school up north), and you will get hate mail from Mississippi State fans. Trust me.

Outside of the heated rivalry and banter between the programs, we have two of the biggest up-and-coming coaches in the country in Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze architecting brilliant seasons for each team for totally different reasons.

But which one has actually done the better job this season up to this point?

Dan Mullen got his veteran-laid squad off to a 7-0 start and was ranked #11 in the country before falling in a very expected way on the road to Alabama. MSU was outmatched against the Tide. Hell, everyone is. So, Mullen sits 7-1 and ranked #15 in the country. His quarterback is fifth in theSEC in passing yardage with 1,742 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with just two interceptions. Mullen took a 7-6 2011 team and equaled their wins in as many weeks.

State fans and their program all wanted respect from the rest of the country for a team that had proved little before last weekend. The Bulldogs’ three conference wins have come against Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. Those three programs’ records are a combined 5-20 for the year. However, State has taken care of business in the games they are supposed to.

Dan Mullen is a fantastic coach who puts his players in a position to succeed on the field with his type of offense. And he’s done a nice job elevating the play of his defense, too, with the likes of Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay and Cam Lawrence, among others.

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