Ole Miss Football: College Football, Once Pure But Now Tarnished

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels congratulates head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide after Alabama defeated Mississippi 48-43 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels congratulates head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide after Alabama defeated Mississippi 48-43 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Ole Miss football fans know the NCAA was tough on the Rebels during a 5 year + witch hunt but their effect on college football is worse than you imagined.

College football, and especially Ole Miss football, has been my hobby since 1969 when watching Archie Manning play for the Ole Miss Rebels got me hooked. I’m still a huge fan and love watching the spectacle of the Southeastern Conference. When the television contracts became big money along with the formation of the SEC and other networks, money was flowing like water into the bank accounts of the big schools in the Power-5 conferences.

That money has led to facility upgrades that rival any country club in the nation. College stadium updates like Alabama’s and Texas A&M’s stand toe to toe with most NFL Stadiums. Coaches are making more money than ever, and even offensive and defensive coordinators are making seven-figure salaries. Nick Saban at Alabama and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M make more money than most Fortune 100 CEO’s, and if they get fired from their guaranteed contracts, they get millions of dollars to go away.

Not A Fair System

Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss Rebels /

Ole Miss Rebels

Unlike you and me they don’t have to file  for unemployment or get COBRA health insurance from their former employer. So it’s all good right? Not so much. Like in any business with big money, many times corruption will find its way in.

With coaches’ large salaries comes the pressure to win and win now. There is no four-year grace period. Win now or take your multi-million dollar severance to your beach house in the Caribbean.

So you have rich coaches working for big schools out there recruiting the best players to make them successful. This is where the problem starts. Many of these recruits come from poor families, and some of them live in poverty.

Sometimes college athletics is their only way out of that lifestyle, but unlike pro baseball, they can’t go directly to the NFL. So many of these five-star recruits are sold out to the highest bidder. Not all, but many. In some cases, we are talking six-figure offers. Now it’s not the coaches that do this.

Related Story. Thoughts On The NCAA. light

It’s the wealthy boosters that feed their ego by securing the best talent for their beloved Universities. When you hear big-time recruits are making last-minute or shocking flips to other schools, you can figure out what’s going on. Can you blame the families or the kids themselves for taking the money?

Don’t Blame The Athletes

Imagine if you were in that situation. What would you do? These players make millions for their Universities, but they get none of it. They sell jerseys with the players numbers on it, but the school receives 100% of the revenue. If you have doubts about this, do your homework. Go check out the Indoor Practice Facility parking lots at most SEC schools and see what kind of cars the players are driving. This has been going on for years, but it’s gotten out of hand with this big business called college football.

I’m not going to name any players that have benefited from extra benefits because I simply don’t want to get sued for telling the truth. But I know of many ‘dirty’ deals that have transpired in the last 48 hours before signing days have gone by. I was at a black-tie event in February where former college football players were in attendance. I asked them point-blank if they knew that players were getting paid and in some cases big money. Without hesitation, they said yes and even laughed about it.

Lack Of Accountability

So where is the NCAA during all of this you ask? The NCAA is caught up in this as much as any school because the substantial TV contracts depend on schools like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State etc. to keep the ratings high and advertisers with open checkbooks. So what does the NCAA do? They pick and choose who to put on probation. For now Ole Miss and now Missouri fit the selection criteria. Neither school brings the big bucks to ESPN and other networks.

I am convinced that as long as Nick Saban is at Alabama, they will never go on probation no matter what they do. Remember,  NCAA President Mark Emmert hired Nick Saban at LSU. Read into that what you want. Like many of you, I followed the NCAA case against Ole Miss very closely. It was shady at best when you look at the NCAA side of the coin.

While Ole Miss did make some mistakes, there were other fabricated charges created by the NCAA investigators with opposing coaches and players. They had to get a return on their investment after six years of expenses investigating Ole Miss. Ole Miss’s penalties were severe, and they were charged with lack of institutional control yet Head Coach Hugh Freeze barely got a slap on the wrist.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that the NCAA is a governing body that basically is a facade of enforcement. So what can be done about this? The simple answer is nothing. Players were bought yesterday, today and they will be bought tomorrow. Many schools have a network of boosters that cover their tracks better than the mafia of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

The NCAA literally could put every Power-5 conference school on probation if they were to actually enforce the rules. They can’t do that for obvious reasons so you’ll certainly continue to see shady hit and miss investigations against schools which don’t matter as much to the bottom line or don’t fit the powers of the NCAA’s own personal agendas.

Next. The 2019 Grove Bowl. dark

Sadly, for fans of some teams like Ole Miss football, this is the reality of what college sports have become. If you want real purity in college football, become fans of either Army, Navy or Air Force. They are just about the only pure college football teams left in the great game.