Ole Miss players need honesty

Published 5:00 am Friday, July 28, 2017

Ole Miss players need honesty


This is one of those “keeping it real” columns.
Monday, the media was invited to a press conference with new Ole Miss head football coach Matt Luke. I was glad to have made it home from vacation in time to go since I missed Thursday’s announcement press conference.
To tell you the truth I was totally disappointed in the press conference and I am putting Ole Miss on notice. You can keep your press conferences to yourself if we are expected to listen to the politically correct spiel that the coach and the players have been coached to say.
You know why I say “coached”? Because they all said the same thing when answering questions.
Those were seasoned reporters in that room who have been through every coaching change and have pretty much heard it all. Many have a close working relationship with Freeze and to have to listen to people pretty much say that those years could be easily put aside was a slap in the face.
Keeping it real? Hugh Freeze was a beloved coach at that university for five years this time. His abrupt departure with barely a good-bye is like an unexpected death.
Yet, the new coach and the players came out saying they just wanted to play football and move on and don’t look behind.
That’s a slap in the face to Hugh Freeze who put so much into that program. They deserve a chance to mourn his loss. Four days is not enough time for young men – teenagers and some who are barely two years removed from their teenage years to understand this kind of loss.
The Rebel community as a whole has not moved on. So to walk them out like that in a “show of solidarity” to pretend that they are not hurting is just wrong.
So as a journalist, my job is to present the facts as I see them. Yeah, everybody can take the good sounding words out of what was said and make a story. Not many of us will tell the public how many point blank questions were answered using the same words as the question asked two questions ago.
People are hurting, angry and flat out mad about the situation happening at Ole Miss from Freeze’s departure to the NCAA investigation hanging over its head.
Make no mistake. Matt Luke is an excellent choice for the team as head coach. He is like a favorite uncle, along with Wesley McGriff, who is now the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. However, they are not “dad” – yet. Freeze was dad and now he is not there.
Regardless of whether he is guilty or innocent of the accusations, it does not change how those players feel about him and the impact he had on their lives.
Be disappointed. Be mad or angry. At least those are honest emotions.
But don’t come before the media four days after a beloved coach left under hard-to-believe circumstances and expect us to spit out your watered down version of the truth.
This may be a mom-type thought but those players need to be wrapped in love and hugs. They need to know it’s okay to miss Coach Freeze and hate that he is no longer there. Freeze is emotionally connected to those players and to say that playing a ballgame will compensate for grief is just plain wrong.
I hope parents of these players will stand up for your sons and let them process the changes that have been made.
If the players are your first thought, as was repeatedly said at the press conference, then take care of them honestly. This is not a situation where you can “walk it off.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox