Robert Nkemdiche

Freeze ‘disappointed’ in ‘unwarranted allegations’ against Ole Miss players


As expected, Ole Miss is firmly standing behind its men.

Wednesday, reports surfaced that a handful of Rebel football players were named in a $2 million civil lawsuit, which stemmed from an alleged beating at a frat party around this time last year.  Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork subsequently released a statement defending the players, saying “the proper authorities investigated the matter and could find no evidence of wrong-doing.”  The players’ head coach followed in his boss’ footsteps, saying that Robert and Denzel Nkemdiche, the two most prominent players named in the suit, have the team’s full support.

“Having spoken with our players after the event occurred and reviewed the incident report,” Hugh Freeze‘s statement began, “we are disappointed these unwarranted allegations are being directed at Denzel and Robert, and they have the full support of our team as they fight this matter.”

The names of the other five football players who are a part of the civil suit have not been named, at least publicly.  Bo Wallace and Alex Kamara were included in the police report, although it’s unknown if either are named in the lawsuit.  The former was the Rebels’ starting quarterback in every game as a senior in 2013, the latter a defensive back who will be a sophomore in 2014.

While the Ole Miss police department investigated the incident that occurred in mid-February of 2013, no arrests were ever made or charges filed.  UPD Captain Michael Harmon told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger shortly after the legal action went public that no one, including the plaintiff in the lawsuit, could positively identify any of the attackers.

The attack left the alleged victim, who according to the suit was coming to the aid of friend, unconscious after being stomped in the head.  Matthew Baird, the alleged victim and plaintiff in the lawsuit, was treated for multiple injuries.  Baird is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages in the suit that was filed late last week.

Robert Nkemdiche, a freshman All-American defensive end last season, took to Twitter Wednesday night to brush off the accusations.

The defensive lineman’s brother, All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, was arrested this past weekend on charges of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and failure to comply.  He was indefinitely suspended by the football program following that legal run-in.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

Associated Press
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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.