The Future Is Now

Today is significant for a couple of reasons. Two press conferences tell us that.

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Early in the afternoon, Hugh Freeze will talk about his team as spring practice begins. There will likely be less mention of rallying and uniting and the gameplan for moving Ole Miss football forward, and more about personnel, the goals for the spring, and updates on offseason work.

Fans love that.

Later in the afternoon, Ross Bjork will speak to Ole Miss people for the first time as the newly named athletic director for The University of Mississippi. There will likely be talk of rallying and uniting and the gameplan moving forward, and also goals for the future and how Ole Miss will get from here to there.

Fans have been desperate to hear that.

The decision process took a while, at least in relative terms. Some of that was because November to March is a long time if you are hopeful yet with so much unknown.

The AD questions were many. Who will it be? When will it happen? Will it be an insider? An outsider? Someone with Ole Miss ties? Someone with none?

Now we know.

Later today we get to meet and hear from Bjork. By most indications, Ole Miss people are already on board. Many in a big way. I've read that from some. I've heard that from others.

Ole Miss needed a fresh start. That isn't to say any of the candidates we'd heard or confirmed were not worthy of selection. They would be a fresh start, too.

The model and gameplan we'd seen Ole Miss move along with in recent seasons, which included obvious progress in many areas, had grown stale and stagnant. Results in many sports, especially football the past two years, proved that.

I really hate I had a conflict on the afternoon of March 2. I'm still trying to find a writeup or a report from an event on campus. The Mississippi Sports Law Review's Spring Symposium titled "The Bowl Championship Series And Conference Realignment" was held at the Khayat Law Center at Ole Miss. It included some national experts on the situation as it is today.

Hugh Freeze at his initial press conference
Bruce Newman

I'd love to have heard the discussion and hope to read a review. Outstanding, too, that Ole Miss hosted it. It's an important topic of discussion for any school in the BCS, and Ole Miss needs to know the landscape of everything involving that.

There's no room for complacency at Ole Miss in sports. College athletics is changing, and complacency will only get you left behind.

Some lean on the charter membership of the Southeastern Conference for comfort. Who's to say at some point some schools decide they're leaving to start their own league and call it the Super South or whatever? You can remain a charter member of the SEC, they say, but we're gone.

It won't happen, and Ole Miss will be on the biggest stage. The SEC seems strong and comfortable as it grows to 14 schools next year.

It has happened before. All 12 schools in the SEC but Arkansas were once members of the Southern Conference. The league became too large and split geographically. The SEC was formed for the most southern and western schools in the Southern Conference, and most of those schools became the powerhouse academic and athletic institutions we know today. Only The University of the South (Sewanee), Tulane, and Georgia Tech have left since then.

Sewanee was too small to compete. Georgia Tech eventually landed in the ACC and may or may not regret leaving the SEC. Tulane, like Vanderbilt a private school, is likely kicking itself to this day for departing.

The times demand hard work, dedication, daily effort, unity, financial support, and excellence more than ever, and a complete understanding of what it takes to survive and hopefully thrive in the big-time arms race of college sports.

There's work to be done at The University of Mississippi, the Flagship Institution of Higher Learning among Mississippi's state-supported colleges. There's much to offer here and to build on.

Later today, a new leader for Ole Miss athletics will be introduced. The time is right and the future is now.

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