Nutt’s lawsuit causes Freeze to resign over calls to escort

Longtime buddy Rex Nelson has for years done a Houston Nutt parody that features a repeated warning as Nutt to other coaches: “Don’t text females who are not your wife on a state cell phone.”

Apparently Hugh Freeze didn’t pay attention.

Freeze resigned Thursday from Ole Miss after officials dialed numbers to an escort service on his state cell phone while on recruiting trips to Florida.

No, seriously. The man who once compared himself to Jesus somehow figured out a way to nail himself to the cross.

Whether he actually saw an escort or not isn’t even being questioned now by anyone except maybe his wife. But the hypocrisy of someone who routinely invoked religion in routine press conferences dialing the number is enough to throw everything into question he’s done since taking over in Oxford for Nutt after the 2011 season.

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And it was Nutt’s lawsuit last week that brought the whole thing down on Freeze’s head.

In a Thursday press conference where Rebels athletics director Ross Bjork’s spin was the issue that caused Freeze to resign was part of a “pattern of conduct” they recently discovered … even though the school has been under the microscope for a few years.

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No, the self-righteous comments from Bjork and chancellor Jeff Vittor were an excuse to try and avoid two issues.

“We simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered,” Vittor said.

They were not aware of it until Nutt’s lawsuit, which caused a Freedom of Information Act request. To make a long story short, someone figured out the connection to the escort service.

Bjork and Vittor questioned Freeze, who admitted it (after lying for over a week to members of the media asking about it).

Considering when Freeze was hired by the university in 2011, according to multiple sources including two inside the athletic department, Freeze was told to get the football program winning at the highest level and “we’ll deal with the NCAA if they come calling.”

That left them in a tenuous position on the entire NCAA matter as there were rumors in Oxford that Freeze would be paid off if he was forced out over the recruiting issues.

Being in Oxford for a year covering the Rebels last year, I knew Freeze about as well as I really wanted to. There was never anything to say he wasn’t living up to what he was talking, but you got the feeling he was a snake-oil salesman.

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There were too many stories of his treatment of assistants and at least one team meeting where he called several members of the team some unflattering names and blamed them for poor performance.

The team responded by tanking the last two games of the year to, as one player said, “avoid having to practice the entire month of December.”

It started in a 34-30 loss to Arkansas where, for the third straight year, Brett Bielema took a less-talented team and basically helicopter pimp-slapped Freeze all over the field for a win.

Freeze has spent over a year defending himself in the NCAA matter. He repeatedly said he wanted to tell his side of the story.

Then came Nutt’s lawsuit where Freeze’s cajoling and discussions about laying the blame on Nutt and the previous staff came home to roost.

Don’t forget a big part of Nutt’s problem in his last season over FOIA-obtained state cell phone records of calls to people other than his wife, although there was never any proof that he did anything wrong.

Nutt knew how to cause a problem and his lawyers did just that.

And Ole Miss got a gift.

Now they are able to tell the NCAA they no longer have the coach in question at the helm of their program. It’s a step they get to make while maintaining the public position it had nothing to do with the NCAA.

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If you believe that, then, well, I hope the grass is green and the sky is blue in your world.

Now the problem for the rest of the SEC is this: A talented group of players can truly let it all hang out.

Offensive line coach Matt Luke is the interim head coach. He’s got an Ed Orgeron-type of enthusiasm about everything without the negatives … and he’s well-spoken, smart and Ole Miss to the bone, more than any coach the Rebels have had since Billy Brewer.

Don’t look for a drop-off in the high-octane offense at Ole Miss.

Luke’s background is all offense, first under David Cutcliffe at Duke, then Freeze at Ole Miss, where he has been co-offensive coordinator the last five seasons and helped create much of the offense Freeze ran.

Plus, he’s a motivator.

Ole Miss now has another line to throw at the NCAA: The man in charge is gone.

It may be a case of addition by subtraction.

Oh, not to mention the lawsuit with Nutt will likely be settled before ever seeing a courtroom.