No easy answers when reporters do their job
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss’ head football coach, made it perfectly clear in his 16-minute opening statement/filibuster Thursday at SEC football media days that he would not take questions about Houston Nutt’s lawsuit against the Rebels that was filed Wednesday.
There were about 400 members of the media — mostly newspaper reporters or reporters with newspaper backgrounds — who sat through that diatribe Freeze considered an opening statement.
Freeze finally relented, saying, “I’ll take some questions now.” These were the first three:
Question 1: “I’m sure you’re aware of the lawsuit Houston Nutt filed yesterday. He mentioned you and the administration
creating a smear campaign. I wonder what your reaction to all that is?”
Question 2: “Hugh, you talked about how you helped your team handle adversity. But how have you helped your family handle it, especially almost every week there’s something in social media, or whatever, it said that you’re to be fired no matter what.”
Question 3: “And the second question is how confident are you that your administration has your back?”
It may have been college football, but that’s a prime example of why newspapers and others with trained reporters don’t publish fake news.
The reporter who stood up in front of a ballroom full of media and SEC Network cameras to ask the first question was our man Bob Holt.
Holt wasn’t accusatory, rude or combative.
He asked the question, as did the reporter who asked the next two questions, without malice. They simply had to be asked.
Freeze didn’t really answer the first question, and he raved about his administration after the third question (as he should) and talked about his family, too.
Before Nutt filed his lawsuit some time was spent visiting with media people associated with Ole Miss, asking them whether the administration was sticking its neck out too much for Freeze.
Understand that Ole Miss already has imposed a bowl ban for this season, and reduced scholarships and recruiting visits to try to appease the NCAA. Rules obviously were broken.
The answer most received, and these were subjective opinions, was that Ole Miss isn’t sure it can find another coach who can win.
Perhaps to be more precise, Ole Miss can’t find another coach who can beat Alabama, which the Rebels did in 2014 and 2015 before losing a 48-43 thriller last season.
Only one team in the SEC has a better streak against the Crimson Tide than Ole Miss, which has lost one consecutive, and that’s South Carolina, which won the last time they played back in 2010. Vanderbilt has lost 21 consecutive to the Tide, and Tennessee and Arkansas stand at 10.
Every other team in the SEC has lost to Alabama at least three consecutive times.
Freeze always has come across as a nice guy. His 15year climb from Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis to head coach of the Rebels with a salary of more than $5 million a year has been documented, including one year as an assistant at Arkansas State University before suddenly being named head coach the next season in 2011.
That’s the job that catapulted him after one season of head coaching to Ole Miss in 2012, just four years after Nutt didn’t retain him when he became head coach of the Rebels.
No doubt before he arrived in Hoover, Ala., for media days Freeze was prepared by Ole Miss’ legal staff on what he couldn’t say. He made it clear he wasn’t answering questions about the Nutt lawsuit, but Bob Holt asked questions about the lawsuit because that’s his job as a reporter and watchdog of the people.