Hugh Freeze’s resignation from Ole Miss comes in the middle of an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations. It was phone records of calls to an escort service, not his NCAA problems, that directly led to his departure, SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey reports.
The dots could seem to connect easily: Freeze was calling escorts for recruits. But he wasn’t. Sources told Godfrey that Freeze’s calls to the service weren’t like ones made several years ago from the Louisville basketball program.
Louisville got into NCAA trouble because a staff member reportedly set up recruits with escorts. Freeze wasn’t doing that, these sources say.
Nonetheless, Freeze wasn’t in position to survive an escort scandal on top of the NCAA investigation that’s roiled his program for nearly a half-decade
Why a man calls an escort service is a personal decision.
Why he does so on a university-issued phone subject to public records requests is a tactical critique. In that framework, Freeze is an inexplicable failure. Hubris? Sloppiness? Self-sabotage? It doesn’t really matter.
The listed cause of firing is the escort service: “a failure of character standards for a head coach.” It’s not the NCAA. Of course, Ole Miss is invested in emphasizing the former, as the latter still looms.
Maybe Freeze could’ve maneuvered past the escort service call(s). Hell, probably! This is college football! If it occurred in a vacuum, I think he survives. (“Common” doesn’t begin to quantify the infidelity rumors I hear among coaches.)
But not alongside an NCAA investigation.
And not transposed against his public persona of the archetypical Evangelical Christian, which drove his critics in the industry and the media absolutely mad. His ceaseless proselytizing in defense of his character was at times such a gratuitous, repetitive tic that it invited other Christians, myself included, to sin by doubting its validity. Such is the failing of faith as a commodity.
Ole Miss got the phone records that undid Freeze from the lawyer of Houston Nutt, his predecessor on the Oxford sidelines.
Nutt is suing the school, alleging that it unfairly pinned NCAA allegations on him. All the while, Nutt says, Freeze and the school mounted a PR campaign to paint Freeze as a spiritual, godly man. That persona doesn’t mesh well with calls to escorts, along with Ole Miss’ unspecified other findings, and that conflict made Freeze’s situation unacceptable.