The Hugh Freeze era at Ole Miss was like a roller coaster: Passengers were sure to feel something in the pits of their stomachs - sometimes exhilaration, other times fear. His five-plus years weren't short on drama, and these five moments define his tenure:
National Signing Day (Feb. 4, 2013)
Freeze's first full recruiting class at Ole Miss was absolutely loaded. Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1 overall prospect, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the No. 5 overall prospect, and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, the No. 18 overall prospect and top-rated wideout, headlined the group, giving him the fifth-ranked class nationally. It was a massive haul for a program that wasn't known for its recruiting, leading some to question whether the coach had been playing by NCAA rules. Freeze called the accusations "slander," and the aforementioned trio helped change the program's trajectory over the next three years before going to the NFL draft, where they were each first-round picks.
Upsetting Alabama (Oct. 4, 2014)
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
Ole Miss hadn't beaten Alabama in 11 years, but Freeze slayed the dragon during the 2014 season with a 23-17 win over the 4-0 Crimson Tide. The Rebels pitched a fourth-quarter shutout and scored the game's final 13 points to net the result, earning Freeze the biggest victory of his coaching career up to that point. He would, stunningly, repeat the feat the following year, this time on the road, earning him nationwide praise as a worthy foil to Nick Saban.
Tunsil's arrest/NCAA investigation (June 26, 2015)
Tunsil was arrested in June 2015 amid a domestic incident with his stepfather, Lindsey Miller, who later proclaimed the star tackle had been "riding around with football agents" the night of their fight. The NCAA caught wind of the allegation and began investigating Tunsil and the Rebels.
NFL draft night (April 28, 2016)
It was a tumultuous night for Tunsil - who slid down the draft board following a now-infamous bong video that surfaced on social media minutes before the event began - and it became an equally tumultuous night for Freeze. After he was finally selected by the Miami Dolphins, Tunsil unceremoniously revealed he had accepted cash while at Ole Miss, suddenly throwing Freeze into a fire he never fully extinguished.
Resignation (July 20, 2017)
NCAA sanctions are looming, and a lawsuit from Houston Nutt claiming Freeze and others at Ole Miss conspired to paint him as the bad guy in the recruiting scandal appears damning, but it was a supposed misdial that ultimately brought Freeze down. His phone records, which were obtained by Nutt's lawyer, uncovered a call made to an escort service, troubling Ole Miss' administration. He said it must have been a pocket dial, but resigned anyways, leaving the program with a 39-25 record that included a Sugar Bowl victory at the end of the 2015 season.
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