Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not The Update You Were Looking For

Well I told myself that I wasn't going to blog, but things happen and occasionally you need to publicly state something that doesn't fit into a FB post or a tweet.

I've been trying to occupy my mind lately and so the sadist in me decided I should start paying attention to Ole Miss football.   A lot of changes have happened since I last thought about our miserable season and I decided now that our season was over and Nutt was officially gone it would be a good time to peak under the covers and see what's going on.

The first major change is that we fired Houston Nutt. Finally.  Houston Nutt checked out after the second Cotton Bowl (if you want proof look at our recruiting classes) and never truly checked back in.  I'm not sure what was going on, if it was on purpose or what, but his disorganization and lack of motivation was poisoning the entire team.  I feel most sorry for the seniors that had to leave on such a low note.  The players deserved a coach that is willing to fight to the end.  Not one that just sort of shakes his head and says I don't know.  To me Nutt's attitude for the last two seasons highlighted the fact that he had no loyalty to the school, no desire to be in Oxford and really didn't care about the program.  Good riddance.  I was always cautious of Nutt to begin with because of the issues he had at Arkansas.  I have to respect you as a person before I can believe you'll ever be an effective leader.

The next big change was we fired Boone.  Yay.

We then hired Hugh Freeze. What, the Blind Side coach?  Really?  Yes that was my initial reaction too and I wasn't really thrilled.  I really wasn't sure who we would should hire, but I sort of expected someone with a better resume.

But then I started reading about Freeze.  The more I read, the more I started to wonder if this was the coach we should have hired all along.  Freeze is from the area and has ties to the school.  He wants to be in Oxford and wants to be part of Ole Miss.  This in itself is huge.  I know people scoff at the idea that this really matters, but it matters long term.  If a coach is motivated, his team is motivated.  If a coach can understand a school and its idiosyncrasies he can appreciate the school and sell it to recruits.  This was the first quality I looked for a in a coach and Freeze fit the bill.

Secondly he's young and hungry for a chance.  Freeze proved himself on a smaller scale.  He helped turn around two programs and at Arkansas State won his conference.  "It's not the SEC" is usually the first response.  This is true, but I'm willing to gamble on a young coach that will have success and stay in Oxford and build a program then put my money on a coach that will have two winning seasons and try to jump at the first school that makes him a better offer.  Besides, winning is winning.  His system in the Sunbelt may not work in the SEC, but maybe a different system will and if he can come up with a winning system before why not again?

He's cerebral.  This may end up being a fault later on, but after the last two coaches it's a real positive. You can tell he's actually using his brain and will do things to eke out an advantage with limited resources. He'll play to player's strengths, adapt to the talent he has, recruit the talent he wants and exploit other team's weaknesses.  He could get too tricky with his plays, but for now it's nice to have a coach you can understand at the press conferences.

He's spiritual.  I know this sounds folksy, but again I have to admire the person before I can believe they are an effective leader.  Freeze is spiritual and focused on family values.  This is an excellent trait and will help his team to rally around him.  It'll help him choose players who will stay out of trouble and will sacrifice for each other as opposed to being self centered and egotistic.  It will help his players play as a team, not as individuals with a lot of talent.  It's the same trait that everyone admired about Dexter McCluster and it's the same trait that made him a leader.

All of these things combined and I'm starting to really like the decision to hire Hugh Freeze.  There is a lot of room for improvement and I know after the last few years everyone is highly skeptical, but I'm calling a turn around right here.  I think we'll win at least 5 games next year with the high possibility of more.  I think we'll play with a passion that has been missed and I think we'll win the Egg Bowl.  There I said it.

The last time I predicted anything it was the first year that Nutt was coach and I predicted we were going to beat Texas Tech.  Everyone figured we would get murdered, but there were many signs to me that we were likely to stomp the shit out of them.  The score didn't really reflect how badly we beat them, but the dejected looks on all of the Texas Tech fans that streamed out after the third quarter did.  So, I'm publicly stating now that I think we've turned a corner and there are some very positive things for us to come over the next few years.  Hotty Toddy.