Hugh Freeze/Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media to preview spring practices and address the program's NCAA issues

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media to preview spring practices, as well as address the program's NCAA issues, in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Opening statement: “I’m grateful that the investigative part of the NCAA case is over and we can now move forward. I look forward to getting our response completed and submitted to the NCAA and getting in front of the Committee on Infractions. I love how our team has responded. They’ve been the greatest testament to how to handle adversity. They’ve been incredible. They’ve been a do-not-blink, control-what-you-can control team. It really tells me a lot about our leadership for this team in the coming season. Can’t wait to get out today and get started. I get a remarkable opportunity to lead in a difficult time. This is a preparation for life. Life doesn’t always give you what you want. It’s all about perspective to me. While none of us enjoy what we’re going through right now, it’s about your perspective. We’re choosing to see this opportunity as preparing us for something down the road. I’m so appreciative for the many encouraging texts, calls, emails that I’ve gotten from Rebel nation and fellow coaches and friends. Now it’s time to turn our focus to football and see the energy of these kids. It’s really transformed me to focusing on pouring into these guys. Today we really get to turn our attention towards them. I’m excited about that. Can’t wait for practice.”

On if he would have handled anything differently in the NCAA case: “That’s something that I have and will continue to think about. As you look back, I have done a lot of things differently and will continue to evaluate that throughout this process and seek people who give you wisdom. I always sit back and think about what I could have done differently.”

Hugh Freeze

On his integrity being brought into question: “That’s hard. That’s the toughest part of this whole deal, really, is your integrity being questioned. Public opinion forms some people’s opinions. Your wife and kids have to read all that. Some’s true, some’s not. Growing up in Tate County, you dream of a job like this. This certainly is not part of the dream. I never thought I’d go through something like this. It’s taught me that God is not near as concerned about my comfort as he is my character. I like to be comfortable, but this is not comfortable. It’s really made me focus on those things (being a good father, husband, etc.). If you focus on those things, you try to be numb to the noise and pour into the things that, at this point in my life, I want to be great at. Those are the things I want to pour into — my family and my players and my coaches. It’s made me very grateful for the true friends who know me. It’s time like these who’s really in the fox hole with you. It’s done a lot for me.”

On his job security: “I’m not really concerned. I’ve got administrators who’ve watched me and how I do things closely for five years. They've supported me and been unwavering in that.”

On the new defensive system helping the linebackers: “I think the system’s going to help some. Dave Wommack, I’m extremely indebted to him. But I think the system will be better and play to (the players’) strengths. Brenden Williams, I can’t wait to see. He’s already gained 13 pounds since he came here, and we’ve got some experienced ones, including (Demarquis) Gates. Some are still young, some are older. They’re going to get an opportunity with a staff that has no preconceived notions. Donta (Evans) came on at the end of the year on the scout team. He was a load.”

On how involved he’s been in the LOIC and failure to monitor charges: “I can’t comment on the specific NOA. I haven’t been really involved with the institutional one. Mine is more with the failure to monitor that I’ll obviously concentrate on hard (to prove it’s untrue). We’ll get our day to stand before the Committee on Infractions and be accountable for the things we agree with and hopefully share our perspective to change some of those.”

Shea Patterson/USA Today Images

On how the players have responded to the NCAA stuff: “I think the players have been our greatest testimony to the climate here and the future here. It fell in their lap, something they had nothing to do with. And they’re going to pay a penalty. I was blown away with how they handled it. They said they’re going to make the most out of the 12 opportunities that we have. I haven’t seen any of our kids be negative towards anybody. They’ve all been positive about uniting. Been just really pleased with that.”

On Shea Patterson’s offseason: “It’s hard to tell on quarterbacks because you can’t watch them (in offseason drills) when balls are involved. It’s hard for me to say. We’re allowed a little time in the classroom and the film room meeting. He’s locked in. He’s determined to be a tremendous leader for this program. He’s the right man for the right job for such a time as this. He’s the type of player who can lead a program through a difficult era. I think he has the ability to do it.”

On if he’s considered the possibility of not being the head coach in the fall: “Really haven’t. We’ve got so much to think about right now. I don’t let my mind go there. That’s something we’d cross if we ever got to that point.”

On Jason Pellerin playing QB and TE: “I think with the system that we have he can sit in the quarterback room and learn two spots. We have to see how the quarterback room shakes out. He’s going to get reps at both. He’s one of our better 22 players. He needs to be on the field. That’s my objective, that’s my goal. It does hinge some on you have the quarterback spot taken care of. But there’s a lot of things you can do on the field. He’s a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal kid.”

On the health of D.K. Metcalf, Eric Swinney and Ken Webster: “Metcalf’s good to go. Swinney’s going to go today in everything other than team settings. He may do some team because we’re no contact. Webster’s doing great, but there’s no chance I would play him in spring even if they told me I could. Armani (Linton) had to have an appendectomy. He’ll be limited some the first two weeks. Mathis broke his foot, so he’s out.”

On Mike Gundy’s Sugar Bowl comments: “Maybe we can meet up in another Sugar Bowl and see how that one goes, too.”

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