Friday, August 19, 2022

Under Coach Freeze's Leadership: A Return To The Glory Years?

Happy (early) birthday, coach Freeze, and thanks for bringing us back from the brink. / All photos by Andy Knef

Happy (early) birthday coach Freeze — you deserve the best birthday ever for restoring Ole Miss football to a level unseen here since the legend left. We’re referring to J.H. Vaught for those too young to remember.
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but if the 2014 Ole Miss Rebels are successful Saturday in becoming 4-0, this will be the first year EVER that both Mississippi teams can say this.
Actually, it was just 44 seasons ago (1970) that Ole Miss held that distinction. State was able to accomplish this in 2012 and 1999. Historically, State has now achieved this feat seven times compared to 15 for the Rebs, if Saturday goes our way.
This year’s Top 10 Rebel squad is turning heads all over the nation.

Let’s reflect back for a moment on the glory seasons starting in 1954 and extending through the 1963 season. Ole Miss accomplished more than anyone could ever imagine during “this run.” There were two national championships; five SEC titles; six Sugar Bowls (winning four); two Cotton Bowls; and a Gator Bowl for good measure. The Rebs were 90-13-4 and a combined 15-3-3 versus LSU and State. In other words, we owned college football thanks primarily to Coach Vaught and his outstanding team of assistants.
Now enter the Hugh Freeze era with his great staff and all the expertise they collectively share. Coach Freeze is much more than a great football coach — he’s a great human being!
It’s no wonder why the best players in the country want to play for him and his staff. These guys are exciting (and fun) to be around. As for us alums, we haven’t seen this level of excitement since Archie. No reflection on Eli, but we did not have the supporting cast that Eli needed to win the west. We do now thanks to Freeze & Associates.
Ferocious line play on both sides of the ball is part of the plan for success.

Ole Miss started 4-0 every season between 1954 and 1963 save 1955. I must share a comment I overheard at a Vanderbilt football game on September 21, 1963 that I have never forgotten. Two ladies (in Nashville) were sitting directly behind me when the score was announced over the PA system…Ole Miss 0 Memphis State 0. Here’s what one of the ladies said to her friend: “Ole Miss is clearly overrated.” Was she ever wrong! Neither the Rebs nor Tigers would lose a game during the regular season that year! Ole Miss was not overrated, Memphis was clearly underrated! And so, fast forward to 2014. Enter Memphis minus the “State.”
These Tigers may also be underrated. If so, let’s hope our Rebels give Coach Freeze the birthday gift he deserves and that is a victory! Whether the glory of the 50’s and 60’s has truly returned or not, just putting Ole Miss in this conversation is exciting enough.
The Rebels’ outstanding defense will determine how far they go this season. Bo has something to do with it as well.

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss CommunicationsSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.

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