I live my life by a lot of mottos. The golden rule: Do to others, as you would like them to do to you, is an example of one. But one of my favorites is what I call the Duck Theory. I’m sure you’ve heard it: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are, it’s a duck. Translation: Don’t let your mind deceive what your eyes tell you.
Ole Miss’ success on the football field was clearly artificially inflated. It never added up. How could a coach, Hugh Freeze, from Arkansas Sate, who did nothing special tactically, build an empire strong to defeat mighty Alabama in consecutive seasons? How? It’s not as if Hugh Freeze has a history of delivering players to the NFL or a track record of success as previous schools. Yet, when he took over, all of the Ole Miss fans fell in love with their new coach and his ability to “recruit”.
The NCAA dropped the hammer on Ole Miss on Wednesday, and truth be told, since Laremy Tunsil’s draft night reveal, we all knew the truth: Ole Miss was cheating.
It’s hard to win at Ole Miss, I get it. The two coaches prior to Freeze — Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt — were a combined 13-43 in the dogged SEC West. Freeze wanted to win, I get it. But the reason that Freeze should be fired is not his actions of cheating, per say, but his reaction to those who questioned him.
The infamous and deleted tweet that is currently making its rounds on the internet from 2013; calling on anyone who has any information Ole Miss cheating to e-mail the compliance department. Then there was Freeze’s media tour this past summer in which he vowed that he had done nothing wrong telling the SEC Network, “I have faith in who I am, what I do and how I lead a program…It’s hurtful and it stings and you don’t like it, because you really want to cry out ‘that’s not who we are’.”
Except, Coach, it’s exactly who you are.
I didn’t buy Freeze’s comments then and honestly anything he says now won’t dissuade me from what we can all assume: Freeze is a dirty coach and runs a dirty program. That is enough to get most Division I college coaches fired, but that’s not exactly why I think it’s time for Freeze to pack up his office. The fact that he vehemently and consistently denied what has come to fruition, as the truth is why I’d let him go. He’s embarrassed Ole Miss and those who defended him, like Archie Manning. How can you let this man lead a program of 18-23-year-olds when Freeze’s integrity in telling the truth is reminiscent of Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun?
Other coaches may be able to survive this. We’ve seen the Hall of Fame basketball coaches of the ACC get a pass for ignorance. But Hugh Freeze isn’t Roy Williams or Rick Pitino and, quite frankly, does anyone believe Freeze’s attempts at plausible deniability?
Ole Miss’ ascension to the top of the SEC smelled like Brady Anderson’s 50 home-run season. Anderson, in 15 years, never hit more than 24. In 2012, Ole Miss had lost to Vanderbilt. After Freeze’s vaunted recruiting classes, he beat Alabama twice. That doesn’t happen overnight with out a little “help.”
Surely Freeze will blame others in his program, say it was over his head and out of his control, but remember: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.