On national signing day, the Ole Miss Rebels pulled in a top-five class, per 247 Sports. That stellar performance has some in college football asking if the program cheated to achieve its success.
The answer? No. At least for me. Not until someone offers more than hearsay.
Hugh Freeze and the Rebels are putting in the work on the recruiting trail; that's what their class means to me.
Sure, plenty of folks want to pull out the flags and scream about how the Rebs are getting these kids to pick their school. It makes them feel good to drop the tired "SECheats" and "the South is dirty" cliches. It elevates the "at least my team does it right" excuse to an all-time high for when their school loses out on a guy.
Give me a break.
It is not about burying your head in the sand, or even the idea that everybody cheats. Rather, it is this lusting for punishment with no proof.
Pump the brakes. Wait until the shoe drops before having a conniption.
Ole Miss is not recruiting any differently than your favorite school, if your favorite school is a place that wants to win and pushes hard to get good talent. Especially if your school has a 5-star safety in its backyard, the brother of the nation's top recruit already enrolled, a lot of playing time to offer and guys in the class who are pushing to make it better.
The Rebels got kids to stay home, and most importantly, they fought hard to keep themselves on the radar. Before you leap to dollar signs, pat Freeze on the back for not doing what most coaches of perceived lower schools do: concede.
That's right—most schools like Ole Miss concede. "Oh, Nick Saban is after Tony Conner. Well, we can't get him, so let's go after another guy." "Man, Georgia went to the SEC championship, and that big offensive tackle is leaning that way. Better pack up and go look elsewhere." "That wide receiver isn't from near here and has no ties to the region. What's the point of talking to him?"
Trust me, as a kid from North Carolina, a state that sees its top talent "peace out" on a year-to-year basis, I understand conceding. It's what schools do. They have to get numbers, and putting effort into a big name who could burn you means you'll do low numbers if he decides to go elsewhere.
With that in mind, most schools opt to take the safer kid and not risk the public humiliation of hearing "No" on national signing day.
Freeze did the opposite, and it worked. This time.
He got into the race, ran with the big dogs and it paid off. He got kids on campus, and the campus helped sell the guys. It works.
Give the man some credit. He deserves it.
Perhaps he cheated. If you can't prove it or you're not willing to, then shut up.
Putting together a class like this is like the stars aligning to create a vortex of awesome, and the class could generate some real momentum for a program that certainly needs it.
The Rebels chased down the impossible unicorn, hogtied it and put it in the back of their pickup truck on the Grove.
Deal with it.
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