Ole Miss Football: Did Ole Miss History Affect the NCAA Investigation?

Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze and former quarterback Archie Manning and Jordan Freeze take a photo before the 2016 Sugar Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze and former quarterback Archie Manning and Jordan Freeze take a photo before the 2016 Sugar Bowl against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

The NCAA was laser focused on Ole Miss. It makes you wonder, was there more behind their intense probe of the Rebels?

The NCAA’s investigation, into the Ole Miss Athletic Department, has been the talk around the SEC for a while now. Many have used this as an opportunity to revel in the presumed demise of the Rebel football program. These anti-Ole Miss sympathizers view this investigation by the NCAA as the beacon of those who seek amateur freedom everywhere.

Their hypocritical posture is nauseating. Their hypocrisy, is evident in the fact, no one was in an uproar over the women’s basketball or track and field portions of the probe. The focus of the animus was football.

It is expected that teams in the SEC hierarchy are happy about the NCAA slowing us down. Also, we know that those schools in our State that have a Napoleon complex toward Ole Miss, would have a reason to cheer any bad news. However, sans those who have been cheering for the NCAA, there has been a belief that the investigation was personal.

Now I’m willing to admit one thing that others on both side won’t admit, I don’t know what really happened. I have my beliefs. I also have my doubts and question the truthfulness of the witnesses who are protected by immunity. That being said, I don’t have all the answers.

There are a few facts. I believe everyone who has screamed about Ole Miss getting five star players illegally should check the NOA. Except with things associated with Laremy Tunsil, there isn’t anything connecting any of the other highly recruited player to anything illegal. Nothing. There was nothing about Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche or Tony Conner. Years of digging and there was nothing. Also nothing came from the Laremy Tunsil draft day fiasco. Not one thing.

The Investigation

Ole Miss Rebels Football
Ole Miss Rebels Football /

Ole Miss Rebels Football

However, there is something which seems rotten about this entire investigation. This didn’t seem like an organization concerned about amateurism deciding to search for the bad guys. In my opinion it seemed more like an opportunity to make a statement. Although I wonder if it’s the statement people think they were trying to make.

I can’t help to wonder how much of this exhaustive probe was more about who Ole Miss is and what they once represent than recent recruiting success. There are some outside of Oxford who will never like Ole Miss simply because of their past. Justified or not, they can’t go beyond the mental optics of the ghosts of Ole Miss. This is why teams continue to successfully use it as a negative recruiting tactic against us. It works and works well.

I’m not using this article as a conduit to bring up age old discussions on the Old South. However, it is clearly evident the country continues to associate us with the Rebel flag, Dixie and Colonel Reb. Although a few people are still proud of those images, most of the country outside of the South associate them with racism and intolerance. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. They believe these things. Even though neither are any longer official representations of the University, many still tie those things to us.

While discussing Ole Miss, many still use the computer graphic of the Colonel. They still use old footage of the Rebels where you see the flag being waved by the fans en masse. Why? Because this is what Ole Miss will always be to them. They don’t care for the people who like those things.

Does This Affect the NCAA

So, one wonders, does underlying resentment for what they believe Ole Miss stands for, drive the NCAA to be harsh? Is this a way to exact a little social justice? While living in Oxford for years the NCAA may have found some things to legitimize their presence. However, their hunt may have been fueled by more than a quest for collegiate justice.

While in Oxford,  they watched as the news reported a noose around the statue of James Meredith. They saw countless pictures, posters and lawn ornaments of Colonel Reb. They saw a lot of Rebel flags. Everything that many deem negative about the school. Things that taint the reputation of Ole Miss among those who don’t know anything about the school.

To say those images aren’t bad for the school is disingenuous. You may not care what people think, but they do effect the image of the University. As a matter of fact, there are Ole Miss fans that still wrestle with those things. Many fans believe these old images are not representative of the Ole Miss. They cringe every time they see it. Yet despite those images they remain fans because of what the totality of being a Rebel means to them. So, the fact that strangers coming into town with the sole purpose of finding a reason to punish Ole Miss are effected by those negative images isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

The past makes it is so easy to dislike Ole Miss. They see us as the bad guys. Who doesn’t want to punish the bad guys? You punish the bad guys by any means necessary. Remember, federal prosecutors had to charge Al Capone with tax evasion because they couldn’t make anything else stick. You have to punish the bad guys.

Related Story: Ole Miss Football: How Rebel Fans Can React to NCAA Investigation Findings

There is an assumed arrogance associated with Ole Miss. Many believe we think we are better than everyone else. They think we hold on to the ideas of the Old South because no one can make us change. Again, that’s a type of arrogance. The NCAA would love to knock us down a peg. Those preconceived ideas about who we are could have fueled their commitment to find something, anything. They would even offer immunity to other violators with the purpose of finding something on Ole Miss. The truth of the even is a little clouded. It may not matter to the NCAA.


In all fairness, I do not know if these things effected how the NCAA treated Ole Miss. We did do some things wrong. We question the severity of those things. In addition, we question some of the most serious allegations. However, we are guilty of some of the things on the NOA.

However, this entire investigation seems to be a front for something so much more. There seems to be extra incentive for a harsh punishment. Ole Miss has offered a bowl ban and various scholarship reductions over the next few years as penitence for their mistakes. We will see if that is enough, or do the sins of the past require more?