This is a post about non-knowledge, about un-knowledge.
We frankly have no idea what happened in a Covington, Kent. hotel meeting room on Monday and Tuesday of this week, because no one who was in the room is saying anything at all. That’s to be expected. Ross Bjork flatly declined comment on Tuesday afternoon as the meeting broke up, before everyone involved packed up and left. The Clarion-Ledger‘s poor Antonio Morales thus sat around in a hotel lobby in Kentucky for two days while Hugh Freeze, Matt Luke, Ross Bjork and a bunch of attorneys gave him the cold shoulder. Pat Forde was there, hot on the trail of the group’s collective bathroom habits.
Further, and this is where the great, grand waiting game will mercilessly continue, the NCAA and Committee on Infractions will take their time in reviewing everything that was offered up at this meeting. There’s a lot of testimony to wade through, credibilities to be weighed, self-imposed punishments to be considered. Don’t expect the final word to come anytime before Halloween, though that would be the perfect day for the Committee’s decision to drop. We were tossing around the idea of Egg Bowl week in our digital newsroom, which feels hilariously appropriate.
Basically the only news to emerge from this little get-together was the COI’s scheduling mundata. We know they began at 9 a.m. ET everyday and went for about eight or nine hours, with some bathroom and lunch breaks sprinkled in the midst. That’s literally it. We also know that Matt Luke lost two days in Oxford to help prepare his team for the biggest game of the season thus far. The team didn’t practice on Monday, sure, but there’s still valuable work to be done in studying tape and developing out a scheme for Saturday night in Berkeley — however crazy that game will turn out to be.
Perhaps you were anticipating that our first response to the COI meeting would be snark, or added context (which we’ll get to), or some lament for the death of the NCAA investigation. We’ve written incessantly about this thing for years now, and we’re pretty much at the point where typing “ole-miss-ncaa-investigation” into the URL field is migraine-inducing. Will Gates wrote a splendid timeline of the whole sordid affair, and you can find that below.
We’re further past the acceptable or enjoyable range of writing about Hugh Freeze’s resignation. We made our jokes, we reported out what was known, and we jibed at Houston Nutt for a while. That was fun, but it isn’t any longer. I got mad one night and wrote a 10-paragraph essay about Freeze’s hubris that, in going back and looking at it now, I think is the definitive document on his tenure in Oxford. There were utter highs, and utter lows, then the entire floor fell out from under him.
Perhaps my favorite moment in this whole bloody saga was when I edited and published Ghost’s stellar piece arguing that Ole Miss and Freeze shouldn’t part ways just yet. Then Freeze resigned five hours after it went out and we got flamed on Twitter. Rightfully so, but chronology and context matter, and honestly all of us here at RCR absolutely melted in hilarity at the comic irony of what we’d just done.
But that’s a teachable moment for us, and for you, and for anyone who’s got their guns drawn on Ole Miss football. The not-knowing, the un-knowledge of what’s to come. We’ve sat through and suffered four years of an NCAA proctology exam, never really knowing what was around the next corner. It’s made the story exhilarating at points, especially when Freeze resigned mere days before I took over the shop here at RCR. The college football offseason’s most explosive story of the year dropped into my lap three days after I took over steerage. I called Ghost, who in turn called Juco, and he quickly tossed out the newser on the resignation. Then, I sat down to write and coordinate.
There’s nothing to be gained from speculation or divination about the movements of Monday and Tuesday. How did Leo Lewis’ testimony jive with what he’s previously said? We don’t know. What does it mean that everyone packed up and left almost immediately after the proceedings ended? We don’t know. Will this turn out better or worse for Rebel football? We don’t know.
Let’s try something here. Let’s try to guess at what further, if any, sanctions the NCAA may levy against Ole Miss, over and above what Ole Miss has already self-imposed. Personally, I think further scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions are coming down the pipe. That’s likely and frankly justified, at least within the kangaroo court context of the NCAA violations policies. It’s stupid, but the world is stupid, and the NCAA is consistently one of its most egregious offenders. A postseason ban for 2018? That’s one of the harsher punishments to stomach, because it just might drive Shea Patterson off the reservation. A show-cause for Hugh Freeze? That doesn’t matter anymore, so don’t get worked up about it.
So can your expectations and hurry up and wait. There’s more to come from this story as the season wears on, and you can rest assured that we’ll get outrageously drunk and write some remarkable things about it. That is my guarantee to you, dear reader.
Finally, and on a related note, we got Jim a review copy of FLIM FLAM, so we can at least laugh at Steve Robertson’s miserable book. Goodnight.