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Remembering the absolute worst in Ole Miss sports from the modern era

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Like that time that Houston Nutt got to coach three games after getting fired.

Mississippi State v Mississippi
WHOOPS.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

When you got the news Hugh Freeze had resigned due to his affinity for professional companionship, you scanned your standard issue Ole Miss Fan Emotional Damage Scorecard and found there was no checkmark in the box labeled “head coach resigns for calling escort services and massage parlors.” Well, friends, ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.

Because Freeze decided leave the straight and narrow, we now find ourselves with an interim head coach about a month before the 2017 season begins. To the inexperienced fan base, this would be a time of wailing and gnashing of teeth, with a good bit of wearing sackcloths and rubbing ashes in the hair.

However, we are talking about Ole Miss. Our athletics history is littered with fiery, spectacular collapses and the ensuing agony. Or, to paraphrase one Twitter-loving former head coach, long wanderings in the wilderness.

Not to dismiss the Freeze story, because things are very much NOT GREAT, BOB, but after a few blinks to process what happened, tell this story to get in line. To recall the members of that line, let’s roll through some of the worst moments in Ole Miss athletics and rank them.

Point of order, we’re only drawing from the modern era because Ole Miss refusing to integrate its sports teams or play integrated teams is easily the worst thing in its athletics history. Nothing else comes close.

Also, the readership of this fine space of internet leans more towards the modern era, so firing off 150 words on Steve Sloan isn’t the best use of time (at this point, feel free to get into the mentions of @jimlohmar if you would like to air your grievances).

That means we’re focusing on events that fall within the end of the Billy Brewer era, complete with his red styrofoam pants, and present day. You may be thinking that’s a short time period and surely there couldn’t be that much damage, but OH FAM, you have blocked out a lot of pain.

As an old birthday retweeting coach used to say, let’s begin our journey together.

10) What is an Omaha?

From 2005 to 2007, the Ole Miss baseball team reached three straight Super Regionals, which, as you might guess, is pretty good! They even hosted the first two of those three appearances. However, because life is pain, they lost all three series, keeping them from the College World Series for the first time since 1972.

Though, in a gift from the sports gods, each series was lost in less devastating fashion. Texas beat them by two runs in Game 3, Miami won by 5 in Game 3, and Arizona State only needed two games to end the season.

Then Ole Miss took a year off from crushing souls, only to return to a Super Regional in 2009 to face Virginia. How did that one go? Well, let’s just say the eighth inning should be banned from baseball games.

9) A Cut Above

After Tommy Tuberville put wheels on his pine box and rolled his way down to Auburn, Ole Miss hired then-Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe, who was fresh off a win of the Broyles Award, which is given to the top assistant in college football. Not to mention Tennessee went undefeated in the regular season and would go on to win the national title.

However, instead of coaching Tennessee in the title game, Cutcliffe chose to come straight to Oxford and get to work. With a good coach on the way who wanted to be at Ole Miss, there was a feeling that we would continue the rise started by Tuberville, especially when Cutcliffe won the Independence Bowl after only a few weeks on the job.

LOL. Armed with a team talented enough to win the SEC West, Cutcliffe opened the 1999 season with a 3-0 win over Memphis, followed by a loss to Vanderbilt at home two weeks later. After a 5-1 start, he would finish 7-4, and brought home the reality that any momentum the program had was gone and we were stuck with mediocrity for the next half decade.

8) The Shrimping Business

After David Cutcliffe was fired in 2004, Ole Miss replaced him with Ed Orgeron, who preached two things that were the opposite of Cutcliffe’s gospel. One, Ole Miss was going to recruit like crazy, and two, the depth chart was written in the sand.

This being what Ole Miss fans wanted to hear, Orgeron created a great deal of enthusiasm and hope that this defensive line coach/PowerPoint wizard could pull the program out its current dive. By the third game of the season, it was quite clear we made a horrible mistake.

Orgeron lost to Wyoming in a game in which the Cowboys DOMINATED. In fact, Ole Miss didn’t break the double-digit barrier until 1:33 to play in the game.

Instead of reversing the direction created by Cutcliffe, Orgeron was accelerating the destruction. And so, once again, we settled in to a time of knowing the coach needed to be fired, but nothing could be done.

7) Daytime Fireworks

“Hello?”

“Yes, I would like to order a real life reminder of how awful our football team is, as well as something related to the staggering incompetence of our athletic department.”

“Alright, how about a 44-8 loss to your future coach and a daytime fireworks extravaganza that knocks out power to half the stadium?”

“Will that cause crippling program depression and despair?”

“You bet.”

“Sounds great.”

6) International Altercation

Surely a quick trip to Cincinnati to play Louisville in the SEC/Big East Invitational won’t be all that complicated, right? I mean, it’s just for 24 hours! HOW FOOLISH OF YOU TO ASSUME OLE MISS WOULD MAKE AN EASY THING SO EASY.

To be fair, Ole Miss got a lot accomplished during their stay in The Queen City. They played a basketball game (and lost), saw one of their better players (Chris Warren) tear his ACL and be lost for the season, and managed to get the head coach and an assistant arrested for scrappin’ with and hollerin’ awful things at a cab driver.

On the positive side, we got this phrase:

Which led to this wonderful exchange:

[ED. NOTE: we’re dying.]

6) In Rod We Trust

From 2002-2005, Ole Miss Basketball compiled a 41-47 (13-35 SEC) record, while showing no signs that it could even threaten to climb out of the basement of the SEC West. Seems like a good time to make a change, yes? WRONG.

Pete Boone needed another 14-16 (4-12 SEC) season to decide that, yes, perhaps Rod Barnes should not be allowed to coach basketball in Oxford. Rod, the courteous person he is, complied and delivered that exact season. Oh, and Ole Miss asked fans to watch all of this in a building with a leaky roof, power troubles, and a chimney. GREAT TIMES.

5) Hootie Builds His Case to Never Coach Again

First off, HOW ARE WE ONLY AT NUMBER FIVE? WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

As documented previously on this website, Houston Nutt’s trash ability as a head coach finally revealed itself in the first game of the 2010 season. A double overtime loss to Alabama’s Calhoun County football powerhouse Jacksonville State signaled the beginning of the end of his career.

Again, it was painfully obvious he was done and should’ve been fired before he shook the hand of JSU’s coach, yet we were given the pleasure of watching him coach 23 more games. TWENTY THREE MORE GAMES. That means for 23 Saturdays over two seasons, we knew that we were voluntarily watching gross incompetence and a millionaire burn the football program to the ground.

But good luck to Houston in his lawsuit against Ole Miss. I hope he gets his money-grabbing settlement, and then we get a story on how he wastes that money on an idiotic real estate investment in the DFW area.

4) Let’s Allow Houston Nutt to Put the Torch to Everything

Former Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone is many things, and one of those things is how do you direct athletics. After Houston Nutt, who just really wants to clear his name, y’all, fell to 2-7 in the 2011 season, Boone informed him he was fired.

However, because this is Ole Miss, Nutt was inexplicably allowed to coach the last three games of the season. Again, this 2-7 team, which checked out in September, was going to be led into contests by a fired coach who NO ONE cared about.

How did that go? Three losses by a total score of 110-13. THIRTEEN POINTS. Houston Nutt deserves a lifetime of appearing on radio shows and being asked what it’s like to have an opposing coach order his quarterback to take a knee on the goal line with five minutes left in a game.

3) Hugh Freeze Would Enjoy Your Services

Let’s get real: a football coach resigning because he sought women who were not his wife, yet left a football program not in the gutter, is not the worst moment in modern Ole Miss sports history. It’s embarrassing as hell, but the program isn’t wrecked.

Matt Luke will be in a fight to get to six or seven wins, but he’s got enough talent to not equal Houston Nutt’s torching of the program (really hope Houston gets back into coaching and is fired from a Dallas area high school after two wins in two years).

Whether Matt Luke or someone else is in charge in 2018 (I HEARD JON GRUDEN HAS PROPERTY IN WELLSGATE), it’s not an unmitigated disaster. However, if the NCAA decides to believe Leo Lewis’ inconsistencies and ignore the cash money he got from the school with which he signed, things could change.

Bottom line, Hugh Freeze burned out like no other (WILL THERE BE HOT OILS DURING THE MASSAGE), but things are not WOE IS ME right now.

2) Laremy Tunsil OH NO

The 2016 NFL Draft was set to be a celebration of three Ole Miss players being drafted in the first round. Despite a warning from Ole Miss recruiting expert, compliance blogger, and moral policeman Steve Robertson, most Ole Miss fans did not believe a “trifecta” was going down and were ready to celebrate the successes of Laremy Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche, and Laquon Treadwell.

Turns out, our fellow Ole Miss blogger knew exactly what was going down, as a video of Tunsil, sporting a gas mask bong (AS IF THERE IS ANY OTHER KIND), was released through his hacked Instagram account. As we know all too well, the ensuing fiasco led to Tunsil’s texts to Ole Miss off-the-field assistants, which were related to light bills and such, becoming public.

While none of this information was ever included in the NCAA’s allegations related to the investigation of the Cheatin’ Bears, it did provide cover for investigators to continue their quest of protecting the purity of college football, eventually leading them into the arms of Student Athlete 39 and his tales of what they wanted to hear.

1) Dog Brewer Pls Stop

Let us step back in time to November 17, 1994. After Billy Brewer was fired in the summer for getting caught cheating a second time during his tenure, Joe Lee Dunn (JOE LEE DUNN) is the interim head coach and putting the finishing touches on a 4-7 season.

Peyton Manning, brother of Eli Manning, is completing his freshman year at Tennessee, after he chose the Volunteers over an Ole Miss program that was surely to be smashed to pieces by the NCAA. And on this day, the NCAA delivered.

Ole Miss lost 25 scholarships over two years, was banned from the postseason for two years (NO INDEPENDENCE BOWLS FOR YOU), and was not allowed to be shown on TV for one year. Is that bad?

What exactly did Ole Miss do to deserve such harsh treatment? CROOTS AT PLATINUM PLUS.

VANILLA ICE MUSTANGS!

SWAPPING CARS WITH CURRENT PLAYERS?

THIS IS FINE.

The real shame was not the cash, cars, and unclothed women, but that the world was deprived of Joe Lee Dunn commenting on more than five minutes of game footage.

YOU MONSTERS.