ESPNU cameras honed in on Hugh Freeze and his Ole Miss Rebels on Tuesday, Oct. 16. The show lasts a full 23 minutes, so instead of simply providing the video, we decided to point out what stood out to us in the peek behind the curtain of Freeze's program. The Worldwide Leader had good timing, as Ole Miss was fresh off a 41-20 win over Auburn.
The show opens with Freeze and his staff in the meeting room. The staff is reading through "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" by Tony Dungy. Today's passage focuses on the importance of expressing love to your children. Moments like that won't help Ole Miss gain a schematic edge over their next opponent, but they will help the staff pull together when the Rebels find themselves down by five on the road with two minutes to play.
Oddly enough, watching Ole Miss All-Access made me realize the far-reaching impact that Oregon has had on college football. At the 8:30 mark, Freeze explains how important it is for his program to "Win the Day." The phrase is plastered on the wall in Ole Miss' football facility, and it's even on the front end of the golf cart Freeze drives through campus to make sure his players attend class.
Freeze also subscribes to another Oregon staple - short, efficient practices.
"We don't practice long," said Freeze. "The shorter practices for us are sometimes the better ones. You've got to be on top of your details to do that and you have to have great energy and coach on the run, becuase we're not going to have any time to correct on the field. We do that in the film room."
Freeze's assistants are the stars of the show. ESPN cameras take viewers in the film room with offensive line coach Matt Luke, cornebacks coach Wesley McGriff and special teams coordinator/linebackers coach Tom Allen. The coaches are clear, effective communicators that clearly have the respect and attention of their players.
"Our assistant coaches are invaluable," Freeze explained. "They really are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Every single person in this building was faced with one tasked when they were hired by me and that is to capture the hearts and minds of our players."
Freeze spent the majority of his attention on the offensive backfield working with quarterbacks on the timing, fundamentals and decision-making of the Rebels' spread offense.
Freeze is in his first year as the Rebels' head coach but not his first go-round in Oxford. He served as an assistant in the Ole Miss program from 2005-07. He remembers the tradition of Ole Miss football - and thinks he can lead them back there.
"It's not that long ago that this program was competing for the (SEC) West championship," Freeze told the ESPN cameras (21:30 mark). "Certainly there's been a few lean years here but there's no reason it can't be restored."
The show closes with Freeze motivating his team for the short term, to stay focused during their off week, and the long term, to keep improving throughout the season.
"Don't be satisfied with where we are," Freeze said. "Let's keep it moving forward. Keep building until the end of the year."
So far, so good. The Rebels defeated their next opponent, Arkansas, 30-27.