Imagine if an Auburn fan helped force Nick Saban to resign at Alabama, or a Michigan fan helped run Urban Meyer out of town at Ohio State.
Amid the still smoldering wreckage that is the Hugh Freeze tenure at Ole Miss, one question remains: how, exactly, did Houston Nutt's lawyers find that January 2016 call Freeze made to a Tampa-area escort on his university-issued phone? The answer is simple: a Mississippi State fan pointed it out to them.
As Mark Schlabach of ESPN details, Steve Robertson -- a 45-year-old Mississippi State fan who is known by the nickname "Rose Bowl" online because he picked his Bulldogs to appear in the Grandaddy of Them All in a year in which they finished 3-8 and who looks like he plays guitar in a Metallica cover band -- is writing a book on the ongoing Ole Miss scandal and, naturally, made common cause with Nutt's lawyers.
Nutt's lawyer Thomas Mars requested Freeze's phone records from Jan. 19-21, 2016, in order to find a call between Freeze and a sportswriter, as part of Nutt's case to prove Ole Miss intentionally damaged his reputation in a (now futile) effort to defend Freeze's character, which the school viewed as the central pillar to its program and its defense against the NCAA. Mars shared the phone records with Robertson. Schlabach takes it from here:
But when Robertson saw a phone number with a 313 area code, he was stunned by what he discovered in a Google search. A call made on Jan. 19, 2016, lasting one minute, was made to a number connected with several advertisements for female escorts. Robertson then asked his wife to read him the telephone number again to make sure it was correct. The escort service ads came up again.
Robertson called Thomas Mars, an attorney who is representing former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt in his defamation lawsuit against Ole Miss. Mars had been introduced to Robertson through a third party he found while doing online research into Nutt's case. They've since developed a close working relationship, talking on the phone several times a day and sharing what they found in their investigations.
"He asked me to fill in some blanks," Robertson said.
When Robertson told Mars to enter the phone number in Google, Mars was silent for nearly a minute before yelling an expletive in excitement.
We know what happened from here. Mars shared the existence of that call with Ole Miss's counsel, which prompted Rebels AD Ross Bjork to conduct an extensive review of Freeze's phone record, which prompted Freeze's resignation on Thursday.
Ole Miss's version of events leaves everyone wondering what really went down, and there is probably more to come on what pushed Freeze out of Oxford.
But no matter what does or does not come out in the future, it's inarguable that Hugh Freeze is probably still Ole Miss's coach today if not for a Mississippi State fan.