Published May 24, 2012 - 11:03am
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Hugh Freeze has his work cut out for him as the new head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. He inherited a 15-game SEC losing streak and a 2-10 record in 2011. He has been tasked with bringing the worst team in the SEC West back to relativity.
That’s certainly no easy task.
Most seasoned coaches go through May evaluations then really hit the recruiting trail hard with verbal offers and committable offers. Freeze is in his first year at his new gig, and I would assume that he’s had only a few months to pinpoint recruits and give them offers and hasn’t really established good relationships with any, other than his current commitments.
Particularly in recruiting, relationships are made and nurtured from a prospect’s sophomore year until his senior in high school. You get to see them in camps; you go to their games; you get to recruit them multiple years. In turn, the recruits get a chance to see how you coach in game-like situations, having watched you and visited your campus multiple times during your tenure.
So, we expect a new coach at a tough academic institution to pinpoint and recruit 100 or so prospects.
Freeze hasn’t had the luxury of recruiting multiple years on any one recruit, but he has wasted little time hitting the recruiting road, as the Rebels have offered over 240 prospects from around the country.
Most coaches, especially at big-time programs, target and offer 120 recruits.
But not Coach Freeze.
Freeze told the Clarion Ledger you’ve got to get in the game in order to nab a recruit, and he’s right.
“You have to recruit nationally,” said Freeze, who was hired in December. “I think you can do that at Ole Miss, but in order to do that you got to get into the game with them.”
“You’re more careful here, localized, to not just throw offers out,” Freeze said. “Because it’s not as easy. These relationships here, they are so vital to us. One in California, not that they’re not important, but it’s a different dynamic.”
Offering that many scholarships is not the norm, and it’s going against custom. But give Freeze credit, the media is talking about it and recruits are becoming more aware of what Ole Miss has to offer.
And make no mistake about it – there is plenty of playing time to be offered at Ole Miss, who happens to play in the exact conference that’s in the driver’s seat in all the conference realignment talk.
Ole Miss needs athletic football bodies to occupy a uniform and filter into the program. This is a depleted roster with some good young talent as a nucleus. But Freeze has to find more of them.
Ole Miss currently has 10 commitments, with only two of them from the state of Mississippi. Freeze is recruiting nationally and not limiting himself to any local regions, or the south, and he fully realizes he’ll have to go out of the the norm and out of the state to haul in top recruits. He believes it can be done.
While 240-plus offers seem outrageous, a little research and due diligence will tell you it is not really that uncommon.
According to 247Sports, 11 SEC schools have offered over 100 recruits, with two schools – Ole Miss and Tennessee – having offered over 200 prospects.
What’s the common theme between both programs in their current state? Both are rebuilding under newer head coaches in the SEC, and both inherited messes from previous years.
Here is the offers list broken down per institution, per 247Sports:
The only negative result that can be seen from offering so many recruits is that the coaching staff never really gets to make a relationship with any of them, except the local prospects. Coaches could be spreading themselves too thin to concentrate on the immediate needs of the team.
So, let’s give Freeze a chance to bring the Rebels back to glory in the West. He thinks it can be done, but I’ll give him some time to convince me.