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UPDATE: Tactical Strike: NCAA nukes Ole Miss from orbit -- but not worse than expected.

This is bad. But it’s not worse than you’d expect.

Beautiful disaster

The Sanctions

Maestro, mood music if you will...

From Mark Schlabach at ESPN:

The NCAA banned the Ole Miss football team from playing in the postseason again next season, and the Rebels also received additional scholarship deductions in the ruling the university received from the NCAA committee on infractions on Friday, sources told ESPN.

The Rebels, who were accused of 15 Level I violations, including lack of institutional control, appeared in front of the NCAA committee on infractions in Covington, Kentucky, on Sept. 11-12.

Former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze, who resigned for off-field issues in July, also received a suspension and show cause from the NCAA for failure to monitor his staff, although the length of the suspension and specifics of the show cause weren't immediately known.

Nearly every coach named in the NCAA's notice of allegations received a show-cause penalty, which means any school that wants to hire them must appear before the NCAA committee on infractions to do so. Former Rebels assistant coaches David Saunders, Chris Vaughn, Chris Kiffin and staff member Barney Farrar were among those disciplined by the NCAA, sources told ESPN.

The Rebels were also penalized by the NCAA with an additional loss of 13 football scholarships. The university, as part of self-imposed penalties that included a bowl ban this season, had already cut 11 scholarships over a four-year period from 2015 to 2018.

Much, much more above.

To recap:

  • Two-year bowl ban
  • 24 scholarships See below
  • Show Cause against Hugh Freeze, David Saunders, Chris Vaughn, Chris Kiffin
  • Players can freely transfer without penalty
  • Failure to monitor
  • NCAA probation and the dread “lack of institutional control” designation.

If that seems like a lot, that’s because it was a lot ... but only commensurate to cheating and general fuckery going on in Oxford from Day One.

The Cheatin’, the Weirdness, and the Cheatin’ Weirdness

The Notice of Allegations received by Ole Miss were wide-ranging, touching on women’s athletics, as well as the football program under two coaches. One constant has been a recalcitrant, often-defiant athletic director, Ross Bjork. I honestly don’t know how he survives this.

Ole Miss and multiple former coaches are facing 21 alleged violations that began under former head coach Houston Nutt and through former head coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss is facing a charge of lack of institutional control — a charge that has resulted in other football programs, such as USC, receiving harsh punishments including multiple-year postseason bans, eliminated scholarships and vacated wins — and Freeze is alleged to have violated NCAA legislation requiring head coaches to promote compliance within their programs and among staff. The Rebels have already self-imposed a one-year bowl ban, and if the NCAA adds on an additional year, Ole Miss’ players would be free to transfer from the school without penalty.

There was a hearing in the sad ballroom of a Covington, KY hotel room on September 12. Even that was weird: Mississippi State’s Leo Lewis, who had been outed by Ole Miss attorneys, was the star witness for the NCAA’s case against the Rebels. Some speculate that it went about as poorly for the Bulldogs as it did Ole Miss. Ole Miss tried other defenses, to be sure. But, by and large, the Rebels are trying to play this as a case of an overzealous NCAA, over-charged infractions, and one recruit of dubious credibility who is now cheating for their arch-rival.

Just a month after the hearing, while the NCAA was making its findings, Ole Miss was forced to settle a lawsuit filed by Houston Nutt after publicly apologize for blaming Hugh Freeze’s mess on him. Nutt was ruthless about the entire thing: serving the complaint the day before SEC Media Days. LOL. As usual, Nutt got the last laugh, and we took great pleasure writing headlines about it.

Not only did Houston Nutt clear his name (mostly,) but some enterprising MSU bloggers combed through the volumes of discovery in the case, and wound up getting their nemesis fired as Fall camp was opening. Again, we took great delight in that as well.

That last minute change of coaches, coupled with injuries and NFL defections, left the Rebels with a 6-6 record and their own personal Mike Shula.

As for Hugh these days? Maybe he’s up to his old tricks (ba-bum-bump,) only he has to foot the cell phone bill to facilitate prostitution instead of relying on the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi? We don’t know.

So, that’s what we have. That’s how we got here. This is the hand the Rebels have dealt themselves, though, to be honest, it is very much in line with other major sanctions cases such as USC, Alabama, and the ones proposed for Miami. No one can complain that they were either too lenient or too harsh, given precedent for similar degrees and numbers of major violations.

The Reaction:

Some expected it.

Some prayed for it.

Some are glad it’s not them.

And, as some point out, it could always be worse.

Cackle below, as necessary.

EDIT: Mark Schlabach’s reporting was inaccurate. The NCAA was a little more generous than is their want. Rather than reducing Ole Miss by 13 additional scholarships, the Rebels lost 13 total. That’s still a tremendous hit to a smaller program who doesn’t have the benefit of stockpiling blue chip talent and blue chip depth. As we all remember from our own naughty days, it’s not necessarily the first 22 on the field that hurts you; it’s the next 22 who take a 10-win season and turn it into a 5-win affair.

[CB969 UPDATE: The NCAA sanctions say that only rising seniors can transfer. A.J. Brown and Benito Jones are rising juniors so they are out. However, DE Breeland Speaks qualifies. He was second on the team in tackles and had 7 sacks and 8 QBH. I could imagine QB Jordan Ta'amu transferring. Shea Patterson will probably get his job back once he returns from injury. WR DaMarkus Lodge, OL Javon Patterson and Jordan Sims are also possibilities.]