Wednesday proved the NCAA is out for blood in Oxford

Published 1:32 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

The NCAA finally got their wish.

After parking out in Oxford for almost four years, the NCAA cracked down in Oxford and handed the Ole Miss football program their notice of allegations.

As a result, Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 football season and the university was charged with a lack of institutional control as a result. Head coach Hugh Freeze faces the sharp end of the proverbial sword with a lack of responsibility when it comes to monitoring his football program.

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Make no mistake about it. These are serious allegations against a football program that rose out of nowhere to national prominence starting in 2013 by hauling in the No. 3 ranked recruiting class. Skepticism was brought to the NCAA since National Signing Day in 2013 and they’ve been keeping a close watch in Oxford since.

There is a chance for Ole Miss to rise above the ashes when they face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions within the 90-day responding period. If they can defend themselves and make a reasonable case against the allegations to the committee, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

As of now, the dark cloud that hangs over Oxford just got a little darker.

Chancellor Jeff Vitter, athletic director Ross Bjork, and Hugh Freeze released a joint response Wednesday afternoon to the allegations made.

Instead of pleading complete guilt and surrendering to the brute force handed down on them, they made an effort to respond to the numerous allegations against them and will fight the NCAA until they can’t anymore.

They’ll need a convincing case in order to face further punishments, which is entirely possible.

The most interesting part about the new charges is none of them stem from the Laremy Tunsil debacle the happened at the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tunsil saga only bought the NCAA more time to investigate and gave them an excuse to further their punishments against the Ole Miss football program.

But there were no allegations made from draft night in the new notice. Crazy, don’t you think?

The initial notice of allegations landed on the doorstep of Oxford in January of 2016 and there was no way the NCAA would stop from there. That was just the calm before the storm.

The NCAA wants heads to roll. They wanted Freeze and Bjork to sing like birds in front of the committee and give in.

Vitter and Bjork have stood by Freeze since the NCAA staked out in Oxford, and they show no signs of backing away from their head football coach.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that our university continues to be a valued member of the Southeastern Conference and in college athletics,” Bjork said in the video released Wednesday.

“We will be more intentional, more accountable. We will press on and we will not blink,” Freeze pleaded in the video.

This will be the steepest hill to climb that Ole Miss has faced since hiring Freeze in December of 2011.

The football program faces 21 allegations total; seven of them are new level 1 violations handed out Wednesday by the NCAA, which is the highest level.

This is Hugh Freeze’s football program. Everything that has happened over the course of his tenure has transpired under his watch. Whether he knew what was happening and let it go or not, it’s his responsibility to monitor the actions of his staff and players and he failed to do so, resulting in further allegations.

Wednesday was the boiling point in the continuous fight between Ole Miss and the NCAA.

Ole Miss has 90 days to respond to the new notice of allegations. We’ll know more about what will happen to the Rebel football program when the university meets in front of the committee of infractions over the summer.

The NCAA got their wish and a new fire was lit under the Ole Miss football program.

The battle continues.

Dylan Rubino is the sports editor for The Daily Leader. He can be reached at Follow him on twitter @drubino11.