At some point, it began to set in that Hugh Freeze might be less a villain in a Batman movie and more of a different kind of science fiction staple: A clone. In this case, a doppelganger of sorts for Mark Richt, whose milquetoast presentations at SEC Media Days have become the stuff of legend. Whether or not you believe the meme that MARK RICHT HAS LOST CONTROL OF HIS PROGRAM, the man has never lost control of his podium.
But Freeze's understated demeanor also masked an ability to throw a little elbow here or there when he needed to. The most direct shot came in response to Steve Spurrier's announcement on Tuesday that he would much rather play Ole Miss to LSU. Freeze had a ready response when the question was raised.
I guess my thoughts on that would be 2013, I think they're on schedule, and we will circle that date and look forward to maybe changing his perspective about what he thinks about Ole Miss football.
At the same time, Freeze all but admitted that Spurrier had a point. Not that the Ole Miss program would always be an easy out, but that there was a tall task ahead of him. The Rebels coach said he believes "the reasonable expectation from our fans and our administration that they should have on us, our staff and our kids is that we compete passionately for 60 minutes" -- in other words, don't expect too many wins right off the bat. "Whatever the scoreboard says, it says at the end. We'll have to live with that."
Freeze was also fairly skillful at making sure that people don't forget the uphill challenge he faces -- and how much of that he inherited from Houston Nutt. Without mentioning the past administration by name, Freeze might it clear that he thinks he doesn't have too much to work with, going so far as to call his last Arkansas State team deeper than his first Ole Miss team.
The last four years, Ole Miss has gone 2-2 with LSU and Arkansas. People tend to forget that real quick. How did it get from there to where we are today? I really believe the secret lies in personal accountability and chemistry. I was not there, don't know the reasons why, but there was a lack of personal accountability and chemistry.
The spin aside -- Ole Miss is 2-2 against LSU because it won the first two of those games and lost the last two, for example -- Freeze is actually leveling a pretty hefty knock on Houston Nutt's reputation as a coach. No personal accountability? No chemistry?
Not that he's wrong; in fact, Freeze is probably right when you look at the way that the Rebels absolutely collapsed during the last few weeks of 2011. And it won't matter in the end; sometime in the next three to five years, Freeze is going to be judged based on what he's accomplished -- and the challenges he inherited won't matter that much.
At the end of the game, after all, the scoreboard says what the scoreboard says. And accountability dictates that the head coach is ultimately the one responsible for the outcomes.