SEC Media Days: Hugh Freeze Talks NCAA, 2016 Football

Jul 14, 2016; Hoover, AL, USA; Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze speaks to media during SEC media day at Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 14, 2016; Hoover, AL, USA; Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze speaks to media during SEC media day at Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

As SEC Media Days reaches its final day, Ole Miss HC Hugh Freeze stepped up to the podium to face the barrage of questions.

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Ole Miss fans around the country expected the tough questions that were bound to come from SEC media today. Coach Freeze made his first appearance of the day on SEC Network as he talked with Paul Finebaum, Dari Nawkhah, and Booger McFarland.

Freeze rolled up his sleeves and went after Finebaum and McFarland for their slanderous comments on Ole Miss football. Forcing McFarland to admit that his comments were based on what others had told him and not due to his own research.

Finebaum was later on seen having a very animated discussion with Coach Freeze. 

Freeze defended his team and players by going after the media.

Once he reached the podium, things calmed down. Most of the questions were about football, and not the NCAA.

Freeze came out early and discussed the NCAA investigation before taking questions from the crowd of reporters.

“I remain very confident in who we are and our core values and how we do things” said Freeze. “We fully have cooperated with the NCAA in the entire process, which has been a long process.”

Freeze went on to discuss how the University was the one who discovered most of the facts.

“We discovered most of the facts that led to self reports and that is how a good compliance office works.”

Related Story: Ole Miss Football: Breaking Down NOA Response

Freeze discusses the University’s response.

“We believe our response to the notice of allegations stands on its own. As a head coach I understand that I am held accountable for the things that happen within our building and even outside the walls of our building. Our compliance team is working extremely hard to seek a resolution to this case, and also into the events of the NFL draft night and we look forward to the conclusion of this entire process. No one looks forward to that more than I do” stated Freeze with a tired look on his face.

Hugh changed directions and discussed the 2016 football team next.

“On our team as we head into the season, I think if you were to start to build a football team to compete in the Southeastern Conference, you would start with quarterback first and defensive line next” Freeze said.

“I think that we have those two spots. I love Chad Kelly’s work ethic, he is a gym-rat and studies more film than probably the coaches do. He is going to lead our football team very well.”

“Our defensive line led by D.J. Jones and Marquis Haynes and Fadol Brown and Issac Gross being back, which is a great story, and Breeland Speaks. We wish we had a little more depth there but we believe that we are really, really talented there” Freeze exclaimed with an excited look.

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“We are excited about our chemistry, our chemistry, we just don’t have a lot of turnover at our place. Our staff’s are happy. I did a little exercise this past year where I brought everyone in the entire building in and asked them to rate on a scale of 1-10 their happiness with working here, and the question being what would make it a 10. I was real pleased with the results. There are some things I need to change to make things a little better, in particular my gameday management with the coaches. I can be a bit sarcastic, so that is one of my goals.”

Freeze seems focused on retaining his staff at Ole Miss.

“We had the highest GPA in school history, this past year” Freeze announced at media days.

“We have talked to our players about the pitfalls of domestic violence and all the things going on with drugs, alcohol, and the atmosphere of agents and things that are around our sport.”

“As Greg (Sankey) said, we have been to two NY6 bowls in a row. I believe we are one of five schools who can claim that” Freeze proudly said.

“Winning the Sugar Bowl was a huge highlight for me, it was on my bucket list, I actually have one written, it was number seven on the bucket list” Freeze said. “Winning the game was exciting and great and all of that, but sharing time with my father and Archie Manning on the sideline prior to the game will be forever etched in my memory.”

“Our support has been phenomenal, four consecutive sell out season tickets. It happened this year faster than ever before in school history and our administration with Chancellor Vitter and Ross Bjork, the leadership they provide and continue to improve facilities. We have a brand new practice area. The stadium has been transformed, I think visiting teams are going to love what they see when they come and our players are definitely excited about that.”

“We lost a lot of good players” Freeze said. “Most people want to talk about Laremy and Robert and Laquon, but the Cody Cores of the world and the Trae Elstons of the world and the Mike Hiltons and the Fahn Coopers and the Channing Wards, all of these kids played so many snaps for us that are now on NFL rosters.”

Hugh discussed the Florida State game next.

“I did get a kick out of our AD telling me that the game was a neutral site game” Freeze cracked. “Anytime you go on the road to a neutral site game and you have to use silent cadence, it shouldn’t be considered a neutral site.”

Coach Freeze would take questions from the crowd of media next, answering multiple questions on his team this season and the NCAA investigation.

One of the more intriguing answers Freeze gave was “I have no interest in cutting corners to become successful” in response to the NCAA allegations.

When asked about his February 2013 tweet asking fans to email the Ole Miss compliance office with proof he cheated, Freeze responded “yeah sometimes you make decisions that aren’t the sharpest” and “do I regret it? Absolutely.”

Coach Freeze and company return to Oxford now that SEC Media Days has ended and await the start of camp in August.