Saturday was miserable if you were an Ole Miss fan. With everything on the line, Ole Miss came up short, and it sucked.
But why did Saturday suck?
Sure, giving up a fourth-and-25 that could have ended the game was awful. Sure, the face mask penalty was unfortunate.
But Saturday was horrible for more reasons than just that. Saturday sucked because Saturday mattered.
For the second time in two years, Hugh Freeze took the Rebels into November in control of their SEC West destiny. That happened once before Freeze got to Ole Miss, and some guy with the last name of “Manning” was the quarterback then.
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Freeze.
Hugh Freeze has won more games than any coach in the first four years of their tenure at the Ole Miss.
Hugh Freeze has recruited better than any coach in Ole Miss’ history.
Hugh Freeze will have his team in a bowl game for the fourth time in his first four years, something no other Ole Miss coach in modern history has achieved.
Hugh Freeze has beaten a Nick Saban-coached Alabama Crimson Tide team twice in a row. The only other active coach that has achieved that? Les Miles. I hear Les is a decent football coach.
Yes, questions need to be asked regarding the losses in November. The Rebels are now 3-7 in SEC play in November under Freeze.
Yes, questions need to be asked regarding the future of this program in terms of competing for an SEC championship.
The fact remains, however, that Freeze has done more than any of his predecessors at the Ole Miss in their first four years.
When Freeze first arrived at Ole Miss in December of 2011, he took over a program that Houston Nutt left for dead. Ole Miss had gone 6-18 in their previous two years. They had lost 14 straight SEC games. There was no hope. There was no vision in place for this program.
Freeze talked at his introductory press conference about a journey. He referenced it more than 10 times.
What’s a journey without a few bumps in the road?
Losing sucks. It will never stop sucking, and losing with everything on the line is a lot more painful than losing an obscure October game to South Carolina that keeps you out of the Independence Bowl.
But Ole Miss was there. They had a chance. For the second year in a row, they were ranked in the top 5 for multiple weeks. For the second year in a row, everything is on the line in November. For the second year in a row, they can still win the SEC West with two games remaining.
That’s what Hugh Freeze has done.