John Adams: Ole Miss turnaround encouraging for UT

John Adams
Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, right, celebrate after the team's 41-24 win over No. 25 Mississippi State in an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, right, celebrate after the team's 41-24 win over No. 25 Mississippi State in an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Alabama is the program everyone else is chasing in college football. But Ole Miss would be a more appropriate role model for Tennessee.

As much as the Vols have struggled the past few years, they never reached the depths to which Ole Miss plummeted in Houston Nutt's last season as coach.

The Rebels fell to 2-10 in 2011, establishing themselves as the worst program in the SEC. That changed fast under first-year coach Hugh Freeze in 2012.

Tennessee can only hope for as sudden of a turnaround under first-year coach Butch Jones. There are similarities.

Like Freeze last year, Jones' first priority is salvaging what's left of the recruiting class that his predecessor, Derek Dooley, began assembling.

And like Freeze, Jones has made recruiting upgrades leading up to today's national signing date. More upgrades could be forthcoming in that the Vols remain in contention for several big-name recruits.

Freeze had even more work to do when he replaced Nutt. The Rebels had just six commitments at the time. Freeze added 13 more for a signing class of 19.

The signees included junior college transfer Bo Wallace, who became the starting quarterback and led the Rebels to a 7-6 season, including a 38-17 rout of Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

The momentum has extended into this recruiting season. A top-10 class isn't out of the question for the Rebels, whose commitments included Laquan Treadwell, one of the top wide receivers in the country.

Add those recruits to a team that returns 19 starters, and Ole Miss appears on the brink of another leap, perhaps as high as the top 25. It has made that ascent despite playing in the best conference in the country.

How could you have seen that coming?

You couldn't have seen it in Freeze's resume. Until recently, he was better known for "The Blind Side," a movie which told the story of Michael Oher, whom Freeze coached in high school.

When Freeze was hired at Ole Miss, his head-coaching experience beyond high school was limited to two years at Lambuth College and one at Arkansas State. His only experience in the SEC consisted of two seasons at Ole Miss as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.

Regardless of a college coach's accomplishments,

it's reasonable to question how he will fare in the SEC, where the competition is tougher — on the field and in recruiting. However, Freeze made the transition from Arkansas State to Ole Miss as easily as he negotiated the move from Lambuth to Arkansas State.

Jones had a better resume than Freeze before taking the SEC plunge. He won at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati. That's not the SEC. But it's not Lambuth and Arkansas State, either.

Freeze has proved that ability matters more than background or experience. He also has proved that the right coach can make a difference right away.

Tennessee fans should take that to heart and ask themselves, "If Ole Miss can do it, why can't we?"

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 15

Rumblefish writes:

Hey John Adams....did you get this story from the comment I posted about EXACTLY THIS topic from a KNS story posted 2 DAYS AGO?????

In case you question it, here is the link with my comment posted: http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2013/f...

Seriously JA...take off your Captain Obvious uniform. We are all way ahead of you as fans.

Rumblefish writes:

And take note KNS....I said what john adams is posting in his entire column with just a few sentences in my original comment from the story you all posted on Feb 3rd.

tovolny writes:

How do you spell...RI-DIC-U-LO-US...? If this is not an obvious article to belittle the Vol fans, I am from China. At buckeyextra.com, the Columbus dispatch does not have sports writers that belittle the buckeyes. They pretty much stick to reporting facts, good or bad, and don't get into editorializing stuff they withdraw from their lower orifice. Adams, mediocre, at best, gets away with insinuations that he somehow actually tries to get us to swallow. NO JOHN, I AM SPITTING THIS ONE BACK UP. You just as well could relate our misfortunes (lately) by just writing "nah nah nah, nah, nah nah.

Folks, you're 'gonna' love what Fox Sports will be releasing about Adams, Wiedmer, and Climer. Most of us 'go-vol-ers ' know what these inept writers are up to. This fall, the whole country will get to evaluate their performance and comment about how these guys are determined to deter the UT athletic program. "One of these days, Alice" is getting ready to shine some light.

Rumblefish writes:

Do I get some sort of finder's fee for JA taking my idea/statement and making into his column????

Surely I should, as that hack hasn't come up with an original idea/story/insight/etc in quite some time.

KNS editors...send me a message to get my contact info for payment!

tovolny writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

Do I get some sort of finder's fee for JA taking my idea/statement and making into his column????

Surely I should, as that hack hasn't come up with an original idea/story/insight/etc in quite some time.

KNS editors...send me a message to get my contact info for payment!

Do you want a FEATHER?...Maybe a SLAP or a HUG?
However, your one short sentence doesn't even suggest what Ole John is saying. I would not contact a copyright lawyer just yet if I were you.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to tovolny:

How do you spell...RI-DIC-U-LO-US...? If this is not an obvious article to belittle the Vol fans, I am from China. At buckeyextra.com, the Columbus dispatch does not have sports writers that belittle the buckeyes. They pretty much stick to reporting facts, good or bad, and don't get into editorializing stuff they withdraw from their lower orifice. Adams, mediocre, at best, gets away with insinuations that he somehow actually tries to get us to swallow. NO JOHN, I AM SPITTING THIS ONE BACK UP. You just as well could relate our misfortunes (lately) by just writing "nah nah nah, nah, nah nah.

Folks, you're 'gonna' love what Fox Sports will be releasing about Adams, Wiedmer, and Climer. Most of us 'go-vol-ers ' know what these inept writers are up to. This fall, the whole country will get to evaluate their performance and comment about how these guys are determined to deter the UT athletic program. "One of these days, Alice" is getting ready to shine some light.

Great point and duly noted that Climer and his ilk are spouting hidden agendas. For some odd reason GVX and other beat writers have this delusion that many responses to their articles equates into a well written article. Quite the contrary, in fact if not for this site being free (ads pay the rent) no one would pay to read this garbage, and only reply out of anger/frustration nothing more.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Rumblefish:

And take note KNS....I said what john adams is posting in his entire column with just a few sentences in my original comment from the story you all posted on Feb 3rd.

AREN'T YOU THE ONE?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to collegegrovebilly:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ole Miss was also replacing an ineffective HC in Houston Nutt..He did nothing recruiting wise and after Orgeron's talent ran out Houston's winning % sloped drastically..I do believe that this gives UT hope, because a good plan schematically can make up for lack of talent and still win fb games..Get-R-done, Butch!!

arkansasvol1975 writes:

#1 Hugh Freeze is a hell of a coach. Ut missed out on him I believe. Freeze used to coach high school ball in Memphis and knows everyone in the Arkansas/Tennessee/Mississippi area so the guy can recruit. The guy is a proven winner everywhere he has been. Watching them last year, you could tell he was a hell of a coach in turning around that ole miss program that was worse off than ours was. I give him 4 years maybe at Ole Miss before one of the big schools throws outragous money at him.

Rumblefish writes:

in response to tovolny:

Do you want a FEATHER?...Maybe a SLAP or a HUG?
However, your one short sentence doesn't even suggest what Ole John is saying. I would not contact a copyright lawyer just yet if I were you.

I'll take a feather, slap, hug, cookie, whatever.

But what I would REALLY like if for KNS to wise up and get rid of this hack.

Rumblefish writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

AREN'T YOU THE ONE?

Yep, I am one of many...who have current and common feakin knowledge of college football. Unlike JA, who is consistently a couple days late and gets paid for it. Shame on KNS.

dvols writes:

snoring, wake me up when the havard of the south wins the SEC West!

Nothing new here, lots of local talent that doesn't pan out.

UTvols33 writes:

Funny, 7-6 will get you fired at UT. Hardly think UT should strive to be like UM. How many SEC championships does UM have?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to UTvols33:

Funny, 7-6 will get you fired at UT. Hardly think UT should strive to be like UM. How many SEC championships does UM have?

Well, you have to admit that going from 2-10 to 7-6 in the SEC West with a bowl win is fairly impressive, no matter who does it, especially if you can follow it up with a dynamite recruiting class. Why wouldn't Ole Miss' example be a good model for the Vols to follow? Look at all the posters who have griped about UT hiring Jones. Most people would indeed think Jones' resume topped Freeze's by a pretty good margin. Most UT fans would be happy if UT could be in the same position next year at this time that Ole Miss is in right now.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

Here's an original thought for Mr. Adams: if General Washington could get it done at Valley Forge, surely our Volunteers can come back. Or, Sgt. York, in WWI; Or, Audie Murphy in WWII. Or, just a "Win one for the Gipper speech." As oft pointed out above, talk about the obvious! Maybe KNS should restrict him to one column a week; better chance of getting a good one. Or, greater chance we would have less bad ones.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features