Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss football facing an uphill climb

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ole Miss football is embarking on new territory for Hugh Freeze.

Since Freeze joined the college ranks as a head coach in Lambuth in 2008, he has taken programs with lower expectations into higher ground, including bowl appearances and high fan support.

Now Freeze and Ole Miss are facing a different situation. The Rebels entered this season with lofty national expectations, and at halftime of the opening game against Florida State, Freeze was talking about turning the corner into a national elite program.

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At the moment, however, achieving a winning season appears challenging. Ole Miss’ depth and muscle is shaky in the ultra-competitive SEC and team focus appeared lacking in the second half against LSU.

And that’s not even Freeze’s biggest mountain to climb.

With an NCAA cloud lingering overhead, scholarship losses in the future and a bowl ban could put Freeze and the Rebels into a dry period more prolonged than this season’s slump.

Freeze has been a popular coach because of his upbeat persona and ability to build upward from lower expectations. Well, the elite talk regarding Ole Miss is now gone, and Freeze is back in the role of underdog leader.

It will be interesting to see where he takes the Ole Miss program from here.