Pete Boone: Good afternoon. I thought I'd start this off. Some of you may have read about the incidents we've had at hotels. I thought we'd go ahead and get that out of the way. Couple of clarifications. One, there were two hotels, 20 total people. Not one person did it twice. I think at least one article insinuated somebody stole some items twice, and that's not the case. Second, there are no other hotels that we've had communications with at all regarding this type issue. You're welcome to do your freedom of information and we'll answer it in 14 days. But the answer won't be any different than what I'm telling you right now. The other thing that's important to note is that these really are good kids. As a matter of fact, I look down the list and I don't remember seeing their names on absentees for classrooms or any other issues. So these are very good kids. What I feel like could happen to anyone and may have happened to some of you when some of you were in college that you wish you hadn't done, they're young good-looking kids, good kids that made a very immature decision. It's as simple as that. They're not bad kids. That's the reason we're not releasing any names. That's the reason we will take each one of them individually, and the punishment Coach O will have for each of them will be on a personalized basis. They'll be done internally. Let me mention one other thing. It's kind of a strange situation in the fact that we actually heard back from the Auburn hotel before we heard from the Tupelo hotel. Had we heard from the Tupelo hotel before we went to Auburn, Auburn would never have happened. It would have been addressed and it would never have happened.
Q: When did you know about the incident?
PB: That's a good point, and it makes me think of something else I want to tell y'all. I'm trying to think of the schedule. Was it two weeks ago? It was right after the Auburn game that the Auburn hotel informed us of some missing items. So whatever that date was. That was a Monday or Tuesday. Sometime Wednesday or Thursday of that week, we actually got an invoice from the Tupelo hotel about some items there. The reason why we have not said anything up to this point is that we wanted the young men to pay for these things. We didn't want to pay for them ourselves and then get the money from them. We wanted them to pay us and get all the money in and write a check to the hotel for the items. We did that Thursday or Friday last week.
Q: Is there a concern of guilt by association for other team members by not naming or identifying the players involved?
PB: No. I don't think so.
Q: Did you know when you made your statement endorsing Coach O that this had happened and does it change your statement?
PB: This does not change anything. Again, it could happen most anywhere at any time on any team. Coach O acted in the proper way. The kids responded in the proper way.
Q: Are you concerned about the image of the program?
PB: There's always a concern about the image of the program when you have to announce that items have been stolen. That's whether you've had a good year or bad year, whether you're winning or losing. That's a hit to the image. That's one thing Coach O and I talked about. These young men really need to understand what I feel like is some damage done to Ole Miss, not just Ole Miss football but to Ole Miss, for these kind of things to happen. I cannot imagine this ever happening again, because of the way we're approaching it and the fact that these young men have never really done anything negative since they've been here.
Q: Are you talking about other teams at Ole Miss?
PB: I wasn't talking about Ole Miss. I was talking about any other team anywhere else.
Q: Has it happened to any other teams at Ole Miss?
PB: Not to my knowledge. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened. It could very well have happened with a lot of other schools. That doesn't make it right. I don't want to insinuate that. It does not. There's no excuse for what happened.
Q: What constitutes a suspension and a probation?
PB: There are a number of policies for a lot of things. I'm going to tell you, the suspensions so far, and there've only been a few, have overwhelmingly been class attendance. That's how serious I think Ole Miss athletics and Coach Orgeron are with regard to disciplinary actions on every front. There's been nothing criminal – I don't even want to use that word. There's been nothing that has been of that major at all. Minor things, but it got to a point where our policies kicked in.
Q: How did you find out about it?
PB: I believe the way it happened was they sent their invoice in with the additional charges. Being the astute financial calculators that we are, we wondered what those additional charges were.
Q: Has law enforcement been involved in any way?
PB: No. Again, these items range from $15 to $40, and they've been paid back. That matter is closed.
Q: Do you feel you will have problems securing hotels in the future based on what's happened here?
PB: No, I don't think it's that serious.
Q: Was anything stolen other than radios and pillows?
PB: There were two types of pillows, and maybe a clock radio at one hotel and an I-pod radio at another. Those two were general items.
Q: Why was this not an NCAA violation?
PB: First of all, these are individual players. Even had they not paid it back, it still had nothing to do with any NCAA rules. If we had paid it for them, it would have been an NCAA rules violation. We could have paid it and gotten the money back from them. But we'd have had to go through a process declaring them ineligible and getting them reinstated. That's the reason we took as long as we did, to make sure we let them pay us so we would use their money to pay the hotel.
Q: Does any of this warrant a suspension?
PB: No. Let me re-emphasize that we looked at each of these players individually and not as a collective group. What I saw were young men that were good in everything they'd done up until this immature decision. So that's why you have to take each case on its own merit and make decisions based on that.
Q: Why is this not more serious than missing classes?
PB: When you get into a class attendance suspension, you're dealing with something that has occurred over two or three months and on more than one occasion and you can't get their attention. It's a totally different sort of situation.
Q: Did this seem like a planned situation?
PB: Here's what I do believe. Had we gotten the bill in from Tupelo and had disciplined them at that time, Auburn would have never happened. However we didn't and we did not know that it had happened. I'm sure one or more of them had said to another well I got a clock radio or a pillow – I'm just guessing now; this is just Pete's opinion – maybe that's what happened. But it's never happened before with these kids. Something had to happen between the two (incidents) that mad the second one happen, that they thought nobody was checking up on them. Again they're 19 and 20 year old kids.
Q: How much was the bill from Tupelo and how much from Auburn?
PB: The value is about $650 total value. The value is less than $200 for the Tupelo, and the rest was from Auburn.
Q: Would you have suspended the players if had only been say four?
PB: Absolutely not. I don't think the number of kids has anything to do with it. As a matter of fact, we had already agreed on how we were going to handle it before we even knew about Tupelo.
Coach Ed Orgeron: Hi guys. How's everybody doing? Let me just thank Pete for what he said. I thought it was very accurate. He and I work hand in hand and have a great working relationship. I appreciate him being here today. I want to say as the head football coach that was totally unexpected behavior from my team. We were embarrassed by the fact that we went to a hotel – usually when we go to a hotel I get nothing but compliments on my team, how well behaved and how professional they are. So this was totally unexpected and will not be put up with. Wee handled it in house and we'll move on.
Q: Why suspend class absences but not stealing?
O: Let me say this, every time something comes up there is severity of the situation. I talk to Pete about it. The guys who were suspended on our team before have always been warned. We say we don't like what you're doing here. If this continues, this is going to happen down the road. They know this behavior is not going to be accepted. They know they will face severe penalties.
Q: Does it concern you that their minds upon checking out of a hotel were on stealing things rather than football?
O: I'm going to totally disagree with you. I'm with my team always. I felt we were ready to play against Auburn. I do not believe that every one of my team members were discussing what they were going to take out of a hotel. I don't think every one of my team members were discussing that. This was an immature decision by a group of young men and we regret it. But we move on. But as far as the preparation and what we do as a football team at the hotel, I'm completely confident that our focus was there.
Q: Was it handled differently because there were so many involved?
O: Whether it was one or 20 it was wrong. We treat it as such and treat it on an individual basis. We know the young men that did it. And we will treat it on an individual basis.
Q: Will these incidents be a problem for you to book a hotel for the team in the future?
O: I don't see that as a problem. People love Ole Miss. We're a first-class outfit. I think everything should be fine. Are we ready to move on? Good. Looking at the LSU game, a lot of positives. Our offense gained more yardage than anybody this year on LSU's fantastic defense. I compliment my offensive staff. They worked very hard. I want to compliment the play of my offensive line. We had some stupid penalties that I'm not proud of. Marshay made some good catches. It was good to see Dexter back. His big hit, his catches, he's just a tremendous competitor. And the play of Brent Schaeffer. You can see his athletic ability. I thought he brought our spark to our offense. The negatives are obviously the turnovers in the red zone. There were some key plays there. I want to say this. When we took Brent out, it was the right decision. There were things that happened within that drive that made the decision, and it was the right decision. The wrong decision was to throw the interception. We should never have thrown the interception, regardless of who the quarterback was. We should have thrown that ball away. On defense I really want to praise the play of the defensive line. After looking at the film, I thought those guys – Marcus Tillman, Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy had dominant games. Those guys played the best since they've been here. Jeremy Garrett played about 60 plays and really helped us. Our defensive backs didn't play a fantastic game but they didn't give up the deep ball. The negative was the last two drives. Bad field position. We didn't quit. They played all they had. We didn't tackle. That was really disappointing. Special teams, the punt return of Marshay Green was fantastic. I thought our punting game was excellent. Good plan by Coach Freeze. The kick to No. 8 was a negative. We missed our assignments. We probably should have squibbed it. Hindsight's 20-20. We didn't get the onsides kick. We pooched kick and didn't get it. So our kickoff team didn't perform what we expect them to. Overall I thought out guys came to play against a very, very good LSU team. Moving on to Mississippi State. We practiced this morning. We gave our scouting reports out already because we're playing on Friday. This is a good Mississippi State team. The best Mississippi State football team I've played sine I've been here. Anthony Dixon is a fantastic player. He's a hard runner. He's 240 and he's quick. They're doing some good things with him this year. Tony Burks is a big receiver we tried to recruit. The key to their offense is Wesley Carroll. He had a big day against Arkansas. He's very accurate, they have a good scheme, and they're well coached. Titus Brown will be on of the best defensive linemen we've seen. He's a bigtime player. They're a good football team. This is going to be a bigtime battle. We'll have to play our best game to beat the Bulldogs. We're fairly healthy. We're looking forward to put the LSU game away. We'll have to put behind us what other people would call distractions and really test the intestinal fortitude of my football team. We have to focus in on the task at hand.
Q: How is Dexter McCluster?
O: Dexter's been playing with an injury for about four games. Most guys would be out and not playing. He gets banged up. He's little but he's tough. He was at practice today and he won't skip a beat.
Q: What has led to MSU's success?
O: They won a couple of games on the road. They won at Auburn and Kentucky. Their quarterback has been successful. Their coach is in his fourth year. He's got his players. And they're winning the close games.
Q: What's your QB situation?
O: It looks like Brent's going to be the starter. We haven't named the starter yet. If I had to say today, it would probably be Brent based on his performance Saturday. But he will have to improve on some things.
Q: If Brent is the starter, is this a payoff for hard work for him?
O: He just had to straighten up on a couple of deals. Class attendance. Being intent on the task at hand. He's adhered to the team rules and hopefully that will help him the rest of his career as a player or a professional, whatever he chooses to do. Hopefully he's learned you have to do some things and give it an honest days' work and you have to adhere to team rules. He's done that and hopefully he will have a great game. I thought for the most part he had a fantastic game against LSU. Brent has always been a good quarterback. We just hope he can play very well if he is the starter. We're not going to count Seth out. He's done a lot for us this year. He's a good leader. You'll probably see him in there some against Mississippi State.
Q: Given the season, what would a win against Mississippi State mean?
O: It would make a good ride home, I'll tell you that. First of all, the team deserves a win. They've worked hard and deserve it. These guys come back week after week, win lose or draw, they follow the system and move on. They've stuck behind me. This is going to be a hard-fought game and for us to win it will take our best. I know how much this game means to all the alumni and Ole Miss fans when we beat Mississippi State. I think that's important too.
Q: Is the fact that State is doing well in their fourth year a good sign for your program for next year?
O: Every program is different. You don't know. You just don't know. I think next year we will have a good football team. I really believe that. I believed we'd have a good football team this year too. I do believe it takes time. This will be my third full recruiting class. If you were at the game on Saturday, you would see we had a houseful of prospects. I feel we're way ahead of the game in recruiting.
Q: What do you remember about two years ago down there?
O: I remember it was close for a while. Jerious Norwood was really good that day. They were a lot better football team than I saw on film. I remember the crowd yelling for Mississippi State and nobody yelling for us. I remember the cowbells. I remember getting outphysicaled. It was a tough day. It was a long ride home. The thing I remember most is going out recruiting the next week. I wil be out recruiting next week. It's my first week to be out in the homes. I will be out in the homes Sunday. I think I have 18 or 20 home visits next week. I believe those will be good home visits.
Q: What about Jevan Snead's knee surgery that we've heard about?
O: It was a little surgery on his knee. Nothing major. I repeat nothing major. It was last week.
Q: Is there a difference in playing State at home as opposed to on the road?
O: In only two years, we played better at home than in my first year (down there). We're really going to have to gear it up to go down there to play in those elements. I think my team gets fired up to play in LSU's stadium. It's a natural. This is not a natural for them to get fired up to go down to Starkville to play. I don't think that's a natural for them. So we're going to have to get jacked up to play.
Pete Boone and Ed Orgeron Monday -
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