Being a proud Mississippi State alum in Desoto County is not easy. State alums and fans are outnumbered at least 3 to 1, if not 4 or 5 to 1 by Ole Miss fans and alums. It's no secret that Ole Miss despises our coach, and I'm sure many of you have heard this, every time I try to say something positive about Mullen, they always say something about drinking the Mullen Kool-Aid. They say we should be ashamed to have him as our coach because of his arrogance (coming from one of the most arrogant fanbases there is). They hate that he never calls them Ole Miss, and only refers to them as The School Up North (but they are okay that Freeze only refers to State as "them"). Now that Freeze has taken over the program for Ole Miss, their fans aren't only drinking his version of Kool-Aid, they are drowning in it.
The Great Infallible Freeze
I don't know if any of you saw it, but my timeline on Facebook was littered with this article. It's a pretty lengthy diatribe about how Hugh Freeze is basically only slightly removed from the Holy Trinity. It's on Bleacher Report, and I am pretty sure that the author of it is just an Ole Miss fan, so consider that if you decide to read it. Let me be clear: I think it is great that he is a man of Faith and that he makes that a part of his public persona. I don't think there is anything about his faith that isn't genuine. I do have a slight problem with the way he presents himself when it comes to how he uses that in recruiting and some of the other things he does in recruiting.
Back on Signing Day, we all know about the historic class of recruits Ole Miss landed. Sports Illustrated sent Andy Staples to Ole Miss that day to cover it, and so he could get some background on how Ole Miss pulled this off. You can find that article here. There isn't anything at first glance that makes you question the conflict of how his faith and recruiting might not always jive. There is a section at the end of the first page of the story that raised my eyebrows. Here is what it said:
Treadwell had already taken his official visit during the season, but Moore made sure to bring him for an unofficial visit on the weekend of Jan. 25. Freeze had identified the date as the best chance to get the most targets together and sell them on Ole Miss. It was the first weekend after students returned for the spring semester, so Freeze knew the campus would be packed and lively.
Freeze wanted all the top recruits there because "the campus would be packed and lively". Now, I am a school teacher, and one of the things I have to do to is teach students to make inferences. Let's think about the reputation Ole Miss has. They are self proclaimed by the students to be one of the top party schools in the country. I think it is only safe to assume that "packed and lively" means that there would be lots of partying taking place. If you have a Twitter account, you probably remember that there was a whole lot of partying going on. And let's also be honest, college parties aren't typically the most innocent of affairs.
So, a man who talks so much of his faith, centers his recruiting strategy around a raucous, party atmosphere? Is there anything wrong with using the reputation of a party school to recruit players? No, but if you wear your faith on your sleeve the way he does, it isn't unfair to suggest there is some hypocrisy here.
Living the Dream
Another thing that Ole Miss fans have bought into hook, line, and sinker is that Ole Miss will never lose High Freeze. They point to the fact that he often refers to Ole Miss as his dream job. I'm sure it probably has been, but people's dream job can change.
Let's play a little hypothetical situation out. Let's say Ole Miss pulls some upsets and goes 10-2 and gets either the Capital One Bowl or an outside shot at a BCS bowl. Freeze becomes one of the hottest coaches around. It is looking more and more likely that Texas is going to replace Brown. Let's say they can't convince Saban to leave Alabama, I don't think it would be too far of a stretch to say that Freeze might be their second option. Or, maybe Texas does convince Saban to head to Austin. Freeze might become Alabama's main target. I'm not saying that he would or wouldn't leave, but to think that he wouldn't consider leaving? Ole Miss has been down that road before.
It Goes Down Sweet but Leaves a Bitter Aftertaste
A lot of State fans like Mullen and appreciate what he has done for the program. Maybe some have drunk a "Mullen Kool-Aid" but I think it's safe to say a lot of fans aren't so pleased with how things have turned out now. But if Ole Miss fans think State fans are the only ones delusional about their coach, the only ones they are fooling is themselves.