In his first public comments since the prerecorded video announcing Ole Miss’ self-imposed bowl ban, a more confident (and considerably better rested) Hugh Freeze said Tuesday afternoon that he is “really not concerned” about his job security as the school waits for the NCAA to deliver judgement. Freeze, speaking at a scheduled press conference to discuss the opening of spring practice, said the support from university administration has been “unwavering.”
Chancellor Jeff Vitter said last week that he has “full confidence” in Freeze, though that hasn’t tampered rampant speculation that the eight new allegations levied by the NCAA—including a charge that Freeze failed to monitor his coaching staff—will cost Freeze his job.
“Really haven’t,” Freeze responded Tuesday when asked whether he’d considered the possibility of being fired. “We’ve got so much to think about right now. I don’t let my mind go there. That’s something we’d cross if we ever got to that point.”
Freeze said the toughest part of the investigation has been having his “integrity questioned.”
“Public opinion forms some people’s opinions,” he continued. “Your wife and kids have to read all that. Some’s true, some’s not. Growing up in Tate County, you dream of a job like this. This certainly is not part of the dream.”
Freeze also served up a delicious rebuttal to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who quipped last week that “we’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field.”
“Maybe we can meet in another Sugar Bowl and see how that one goes, too,” Freeze said when asked about Gundy’s statement.
As for Shea Patterson, Freeze said his star quarterback recruit is “locked in” and “can do some things that can lead a program through a difficult era.” Patterson immediately became the subject of transfer rumors after the bowl ban was announced, but reassured Rebel fans four days later with this tweet.
20 is ready to go..I love my school, coaches, teammates and our fans and I can't wait for the 2017 season together! Let's go! #HottyToddy— Shea Patterson (@SheaPatterson_1) February 26, 2017
Freeze commended the response of his entire team, saying he was “blown away with how they handled it.”
“They said they’re going to make the most out of the 12 opportunities that we have,” Freeze said. “I haven’t seen any of our kids be negative towards anybody. They’ve all been positive about uniting. Been just really pleased with that.”