Hugh Freeze hasn’t coached a game in the SEC, but he’s already been on the receiving end of a Steve Spurrier barb.
Earlier this week at SEC Media Days, as Spurrier was expressing his displeasure with his team’s schedule, South Carolina’s coach said, “You think I make the schedule? If I made the schedule, Georgia would be playing LSU, and we’d be playing Ole Miss.”
LSU finished 13-1 and No. 2 in the country last year, while the Rebels were 2-10 last year, leading to the firing of Houston Nutt and the hiring of Freeze.
“I heard (Spurrier) said something to that regard I guess my thought would be in 2013 I guess they are on our schedule,” Freeze said. “We will circle that date and look forward to changing his perception of what he thinks about Ole Miss football.”
Never miss a local story.
Freeze coached Michael Oher, the subject of the book and movie ‘The Blind Side,’ and got his first college coaching job as an assistant when he followed Oher to Ole Miss. From there, he coached two years at Lambuth and one year at Arkansas State before landing the Ole Miss head coaching job.
“If (Spurrier) has enough power, we can change it this year,” Freeze said. “We’ll play him instead of Georgia if that’s what he wants.”
Freeze first heard about Spurrier’s comment Tuesday on Twitter.
“And, of course, the Rebel Nation is wanting me to do something,” Freeze said. “I try to make it a practice that I do not talk about other coaches or other teams in our conference in any way that might appear negative because I feel blessed to be a part of it. I don’t have anything against coach Spurrier. I don’t even know if he knows me.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban has a suggestion for how college athletic programs can respond to the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State.
“I just threw out (the idea of) a tax on every ticket at every athletic event and donate all the money to organizations that prevent child abuse, would be more of a win-win than worrying about punishing someone,” Saban said.
Tennessee is 23-27 in the last four years, the worst four-year run in the school’s history, but third-year coach Derek Dooley thinks things are about to change.
“I know, of course, the SEC has enjoyed taking advantage of our tough times,” he said. “But there’s a nice mood on our team right now that you’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore.”
There are some reasons for optimism this year. Quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Justin Hunter will return from injury and wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers was named first-team preseason All-SEC on Thursday. The offensive returns 10 starters including an offensive line with 106 combined starts.
“I feel like we’ve got a team that can go toe-to-toe for four quarters with all the teams in our league,” Dooley said.
PRAISE FOR ROBERTSON
Kentucky senior offensive lineman Larry Warford, who was named second-team preseason All-SEC on Thursday, gave former Gamecock Travian Robertson some of the credit for his development.
“When I started for the first time my sophomore year, South Carolina had that No. 42, and after that first quarter, I was like, ‘Man, this guy is strong,’ ” Warford said. “I was like, ‘This guy is not joking around.’ It was the first time I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve got some stuff to work on.’ I actually did pretty well that game, but I just felt like I didn’t do well because I wasn’t as strong as that guy.”
Hiring running backs coach Jay Graham away from South Carolina last season was an easy decision, Dooley said.
“Why wouldn’t you want him?” Dooley asked. “First of all, he’s a Vol, has incredible history as a runner, one of the best all time in Tennessee. You watch what he did at South Carolina for coach Spurrier. He did a great job recruiting. He did a great job of developing a young back (Marcus Lattimore). Then you meet him, just an incredible man.”
Lattimore, who ranks 14th in school history with 2,015 yards despite playing only 20 games, was one of 52 players named to the Doak Walker Watch List on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award goes to the nation’s top running back.