Ole Miss Football: Incredible Recruiting Class Shouldn't Be Under Scrutiny

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has nothing to apologize for.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has nothing to apologize for.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Since we are a naturally cynical society, it makes sense that the University of Mississippi, a moderately successful football program in the SEC, would be under the microscope after having one of the best recruiting classes in the country. 

According to 247Sports.com's official team rankings, Mississippi finished with the No. 6 recruiting class and was only behind two-time defending national champion Alabama and Florida among SEC teams. 

Of the 27 recruits who committed to Mississippi, four of them (Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and Tony Conner) were rated as 5-star players. Nkemdiche is the top-ranked player in this year's recruiting class. 

As much as the coaching staff and fans in Oxford were ready to celebrate after such a huge day for the program, there were others out there wondering how Mississippi was able to pull off such a major coup even though it hasn't won more than three conference games since 2009. 

Head coach Hugh Freeze, who led the team to a five-win improvement in his first season as head coach in 2012, heard the criticism and responded to it (via Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com).

I know the way we're doing it, and we're doing it the right way. If somebody has got something, they need to come on with it. It gets frustrating to get bombarded with it constantly. People take it way too far, and it's not fair to our players and their families to have to read it. It's one thing to suspect something and it's another thing to start naming names. I was really shocked by the amount of it and crudeness of it.

If you want to play cynical, go right ahead. But allow me, for a moment, to present you with a wholly logical scenario that could explain why so many elite recruits were ready to play football at the University of Mississippi. 

First, Freeze was able to make an immediate impact with the team. The Rebels were a mess under Houston Nutt, winning just two games in 2011 and losing 14 straight SEC games in his last two seasons. 

The team won seven games in 2012 and went to a bowl game for the first time since 2009. In addition to the turnaround, they had Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M on the ropes before a late touchdown gave the Aggies the win. 

Mississippi also put up 35 points on the road against LSU's defense. Freeze was clearly doing something right with this program last season, even if the results weren't always there. 

Players can see what is going on; they meet with these coaches and recruiters constantly to hear about the state of the program and where things are headed. 

Plus, if you are an elite recruit going to an SEC school like Florida, LSU or Alabama, you are going to have to compete against great players all over the field already on the roster just to get a chance to play right away. 

Mississippi has some good players to build around, but these elite recruits who decided to sign with the program know that they will step on the field in Oxford and be the best players at their positions. They don't have to fight for playing time with others who might be as talented as they are. 

Another factor to consider is the way these players communicate with each other. We live in a world where it is so easy to get in touch with someone, so who is to say these players didn't get together and say they wanted to create something special at Mississippi?

We don't know if that happened, but is it really that far-fetched to think it couldn't?

Instead of raising an eyebrow at what Freeze and his staff were able to do, we should celebrate the fact that a school that isn't one of the traditional powers is becoming a player in recruiting and might be able to shake things in the SEC up a little bit.