Hugh Freeze inherited a mess at Ole Miss. His team went winless in the SEC last year. There’s no clear-cut starting quarterback on the roster. And now he’s losing one the brightest spots from a squad blanketed in darkness.
Nick Brassell — the first Ole Miss player to start on both offense and defense since 1988 — has been declared academically ineligible at UM and will transfer. The sophomore-to-be was described earlier this spring by Freeze as an NFL-level cornerback. On offense, he caught 24 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns last season, adding another 133 yards on the ground via 21 rushing attempts.
“We did all we could do to help Nick, and we wish him the very best,” the coach said in a press release. With regards to the academic issues faced by a number of the Rebels he inherited, Freeze also threw a little blame in the direction of the recruiting process:
“Unfortunately with these kids today, that personal responsibility is a bit, it’s not comprehended by them. A lot of kids that are recruited today, not just here. This whole circus around this recruiting now and this sense of entitlement. I’m sure some of them come from places where they felt like they were going to get help for that. And we do have help here, and we utilize all of that. But at the end of the day a kid is going to want to do well.
The ones that did, we had some remarkable turnarounds. We had kids go from .75s to 2.0 from doing what’s right. At the end of the day, I think you got to be responsible for yourself.”
Rebel fans — though they’re tired of hearing this every other season — need to have patience. Re-read the first sentence above again. Hugh Freeze inherited a mess at Ole Miss.
In fact, we might as well refer to his program as Ole Mess until he turns things around.