In what might be the closest we're going to get to a public announcement that Chad Kelly has been accepted back onto the Ole Miss football team, Hugh Freeze said Wednesday he's willing to move forward with the troubled quarterback transfer.
"I had a meeting with him this morning before I left. I feel good about where things are," Freeze told HoustonSportsZone.com while attending the Bear Bryant Awards banquet. "School starts next Wednesday, I believe. If he continues on the journey he's on, we're gonna give it a go together. We're gonna handcuff ourselves together. I believe in the redemptive quality of man, to give a guy a chance.
"He's obviously made mistakes. He hasn't made them with us yet. We all think we can be a difference. If I don't, then I tried and I'll take some criticism. But you know, I try not to listen to criticism or praise. I'm just really about the redemptive quality of man and giving a kid a chance. Now he has to complete everything that I've laid out for him before the green light is given. Everything to this point points in the direction that he's on track to do that."
[TheRebelWalk.com has a copy of the audio]
That quote didn't run on ESPN. It didn't proliferate among the Ole Miss media sites or the Twitter accounts of beat writers. Hell, it was nearly two days old before I even saw it. But there, tucked away on an obscure Houston sports site, is Freeze all but saying Kelly is on the team.
The lack of fanfare is no accident. Freeze seems to have purposefully avoided making a declaration, allowing Kelly to slip into Mississippi almost unnoticed. There have been clues -- a photo from a school visit in Mendenhall on Monday, an Instagram post of Kelly in the Rebels' indoor practice facility on Tuesday, tweets from students standing beside him at Ole Miss orientation on Wednesday -- but Freeze and the university had remained mum on Kelly's status since he took a plea deal related to a late December arrest in Buffalo, N.Y.
Look, we'd all love to see Swaggy C sauntering into a press conference with stunna shades and pyrotechnics and promises of not one, not two, not three ... but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Freeze is trying to attract as little attention to this as possible, and it's a pretty damn smart move. My only advice: maybe try to avoid the word "handcuff" next time you talk about him.