It is not an uncommon opinion that Ole Miss should fire its head football coach Hugh Freeze. Need proof? Just Google it. Headlines read that “Ole Miss must move past” Freeze and that “Ole Miss (is) reportedly torn” over whether or not to keep him. The stories there reference impending NCAA sanctions-related doom, which is presented as something hanging over the Rebels’ football program like the sword of Damocles. Hugh Freeze, the logic goes, has erred so grievously and will have brought so much harm to Ole Miss, that it is not a matter of whether or not the university should fire him, but rather a question of why the heck they have not done so already.
But, in answering that question — which is why we’re here — you inadvertently illustrate precisely why Ole Miss, as of the publication of this story, should not yet fire Hugh Freeze. Here are those reasons.
He Wins more football games than he loses
The easiest reason to fire a football coach would be because his football teams are not winning games. Sorta like Houston “Pooston Butt” Nutt in 2010 and 2011. Remember how bad those teams were? They were really bad. They were so bad that nobody since has wanted to hire him as a football coach.
Remember that? How Houston Nutt sucked? Please put this in your lawsuit, Houston.
Well that doesn’t apply here. Ole Miss did indeed have a losing season last year — an awful 5-7 campaign that marked the first losing season in Hugh Freeze’s FBS coaching career. But Ole Miss also went to and handily won the Sugar Bowl two years ago. Ole Miss shouldn’t be in the habit of firing a coach for only winning five games one year removed from a Sugar Bowl victory. That much should be obvious.
So the easy way to fire a coach is out. That means that if Ole Miss is to fire Hugh Freeze, he needs to have done something egregious.
Hugh Freeze hasn’t done something egregious
Unless you are deluded or sanctimonious or stupid enough to believe in the idea of amateurism in NCAA football, nothing revealed in any of the NOAs -- save for academic fraud that predates Hugh Freeze’s tenure — is of any real moral, legal, or ethical consequence. Arguing about the merits of this case and, ultimately, the nature of NCAA athletics in general (one argument begets the next), is tiresome and tedious, so I won’t do it. Climb in the mentions if you’re mad about it, haters.
But, even if I don’t personally give two-and-a-half shits about breaking NCAA rules, the NCAA, rather peskily, does. Even then, Ole Miss should be cautious with firing Hugh Freeze before the case is resolved. There’s a good reason for this thinking.
Firing Freeze is a tacit admission of guilt
Namely, canning Freeze right now makes it absolutely impossible for Ole Miss to defend itself against the charge that the football program exhibited a lack of institutional control. That charge is one the NCAA leverages to justify severe punishment, so it is one that Ole Miss must beat if it hopes to more quickly recover from whatever setbacks it will suffer due to this investigation. Ole Miss can’t reasonably say “we maintained institutional control” after firing the guy in charge of controlling the institution.
Again, haters, whether or not you personally think institutional control was maintained isn’t germane here. Seriously, nobody gives a shit. Your opinions are bad and awful. Get in the mentions if you must. But before you do, step back and consider Ole Miss’ current holding on to Hugh Freeze as a purely strategic move. Maybe you’ll understand why they can’t fire him just yet (but you probably won’t, hater).
Even then, you might think Ole Miss can’t beat these charges at all.
Bad things might happen, but they haven’t yet
If the argument that something bad might happen is a good reason to fire anybody from any job, then none of us would be employed. Ole Miss’ self-imposed penalties are themselves bad, but not bad enough for Freeze to go, particularly given the fact that Ole Miss has yet to meet with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
Things could get much worse than they are -- that much is obvious. But if Ole Miss somehow gets through the NCAA with nothing worse than what they’ve already imposed, then they have no business firing a guy who beat Nick Saban’s Alabama twice in a row (making the haters and losers extremely furious).
But if (when?) things do get worse -- another year or two of bowl bans, more scholarships stripped, a show cause, or actual serious criminal behavior warranting having your facemask replaced with an air intake vent — then Ole Miss would have much more legitimate cause to fire Hugh Freeze.
Until then, their best strategy is to keep him. Sorry, haters.