College football mailbag: Freeze a forgotten man?

It seems surprising – maybe even startling – that Ole Miss now has had four coaches in less than 10 years and none of them has been Todd Graham, who has been coach at Tulsa, Pittsburgh and now Arizona State within a 365-day period.

New Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze has been overshadowed by more well-known coaches taking high-profile jobs.

At Ole Miss, from David Cutcliffe to Ed Orgeron to Houston Nutt and now to Hugh Freeze, the search has gone on for the guy who can bring back the success of the John Vaught era and build the Rebels into a power that can consistently threaten Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the SEC West.

The Rebels have had their moments. Cutcliffe led them to a 10-win season in ’03, but was fired after a 4-7 mark in ’04.

Orgeron never managed more than four wins in a season in his three-year tenure, but he did stockpile some talent that Nutt used to twice post nine victories. But after six victories in the past two seasons, Nutt now is gone, too.

Besides being replaced, the aforementioned coaches have something else in common. They were embraced by Ole Miss fans upon their arrival: Cutcliffe from Tennessee, Orgeron from USC and Nutt from Arkansas. Is Freeze, who comes to Oxford from Arkansas State, the right guy? Or is it just a matter of time before Freeze is on the hot seat and Ole Miss is looking for another coach?

Lost in the shuffle

It seems Ole Miss’ recent hire of Hugh Freeze isn’t getting a lot of media attention. Was his a good or not-so-good hire for Ole Miss?
Southhaven, Miss

Obviously, we’ll have to wait a few years before we know the answer. Houston Nutt seemed like a great hire in 2008, but that didn’t work out. And I’ve often noted that Mack Brown endured back-to-back losing records in his first two seasons at North Carolina before making the Tar Heels nationally relevant.

Frankly, the hires of Urban Meyer at Ohio State, Rich Rodriguez at Arizona and Mike Leach at Washington State, among others, leave the hiring of Freeze easy to overlook.

Yet if nothing else, it is an interesting hire.

Freeze was recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss under Orgeron and they brought in much of the talent that Nutt used to post consecutive nine-win seasons in 2008 and ’09.

And in his one season as coach at Arkansas State, Freeze posted a 10-2 record and won a Sun Belt Conference championship. The Red Wolves also rank 26th in total offense, which has to be an attractive statistic for Ole Miss, which is 114th.

But there is a huge difference in being successful in the Sun Belt and being successful in the SEC.

Still, who’s to say Freeze can’t be successful at Ole Miss? He obviously faces a major task. He deserves three or four seasons to try to get it done.

[Forde: Todd Graham’s classless move to ASU is nothing new]

System tough to support

Why have the BCS standings if a team that is No. 6 in the BCS does not get to play in a BCS bowl. There are teams as low as No. 25 playing in BCS bowl games. Arkansas fans “travel well,” so is it that Arkansas is just not “liked” by the college football world or what?

First of all, no need to be paranoid. The college football world has nothing against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas is 10-2 and ranked sixth in the BCS standings, so obviously the Hogs are worthy of consideration for one of the marquee bowl games. But BCS rules state that only two teams from the same conference can appear in BCS bowls (unless the Nos. 1 and 2 BCS teams are from the same league but not the conference champion). Therefore, with LSU and Alabama ranked in the top two and headed to the BCS championship game, Arkansas could not appear in a BCS game regardless of whether its fans “traveled well” or the Razorbacks are “liked” or not.

But your question of the BCS system is valid. No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Kansas State bypassed by the Sugar Bowl in favor of No. 11 Virginia Tech and No. 13 Michigan. Why?

Well, because Virginia Tech and Michigan figure to draw better TV ratings and have more fans travel to New Orleans (although K-State fans will go anywhere, anytime to watch the Wildcats).

The Sugar Bowl selections prove that the BCS standings mean absolutely nothing.

Of course, the BCS pushers – those who incessantly tell us the system is good for all even though it clearly isn’t – will overlook those questionable selections and remind us that the formula is meant only to select the teams that will play for the national championship.

That’s a convenient escape anytime the BCS’ bowl buddies make questionable or unfair selections.

[Video: Oklahoma State isn’t the biggest BCS snub]

Andrew Luck and Stanford would play a semifinal against top-ranked LSU if a "plus-one" system was in place this season.

Money matters

Every season people cry foul over the BCS bowl matchups, and this season is no exception. Besides the title game, it seems the Sugar Bowl has generated controversy for the second year in a row. It seems that perception has trumped common sense this season. As long as folks are gullible enough to follow their beloved teams to bowl games and tune in to watch the games, the BCS isn’t going away. What do you think it will take to break the BCS stranglehold on college football?
Christiansburg, Va

You’re on target, Trevor. College football fans are happily addicted to the sport, and as long as they watch games on TV and buy tickets at enormous prices, the college presidents and conference commissioners who are the BCS have no reason to change.

But each year, more and more coaches, athletic directors and even presidents and commissioners seem to agree that the BCS system is undeniably flawed.

I think it’s possible in the next few years that a “plus-one” component could be added to the BCS system. Under a “plus-one” format, two BCS bowls (they would rotate) would be used to stage games against teams ranked No. 1 and. No. 4 and teams ranked No. 2 and No. 3. The winners then would meet for the national title.

It’s not the eight-, 12- or 16-team playoff format so many fans want, but at least that would be an improvement over the idiotic system we have now.

[Wetzel: Support grows for football Final Four]

Second thoughts

Why won’t somebody just say it? Oklahoma State was left out of the championship game because of the word “State.” If Oklahoma had the same resume as Oklahoma State, the Sooners would have been ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings. That Oklahoma State isn’t a “blue blood” is the reason it was kept out. I’m not saying this is right or wrong (as an Ohio State alum, I love benefitting from this), but I’m just surprised no one seems to have brought this up.
Lansing, Mich

We always hear about the BCS computers, but the human element (coaches’ poll and Harris poll) accounts for two-thirds of the BCS formula.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think some voters might give more benefit of the doubt to a one-loss Oklahoma, which has played in four national championship games since 2000, than a one-loss Oklahoma State.

That said, Oklahoma State would be playing LSU for the national championship if the Cowboys had held on to a 24-7 lead against Iowa State, which is 6-6. So, while they may have some reason to blame the BCS system for their omission from the national championship game, they really must blame themselves.

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Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for He can be reached at
Updated Thursday, Dec 15, 2011