Kerekes let freeze coach, and let former players practice sports gas definition physics


Let’s begin with the Hugh Freeze decision, and let me stress that this was technically an SEC decision as opposed to the NCAA. When the NCAA hit Ole Miss with penalties over alleged rules violations, it also gave the former Rebels head coach a one-year head coaching restriction while also hitting him with a two-game suspension if he ever were to become a head coach again. What was notable when this happened was the fact that, if Freeze were hired by a school as either an analyst, a position coach or even as a coordinator, there would have been no such restrictions on him.

Following Alabama’s national title game win, most of Saban’s staff ended up leaving for other jobs, and reports swirled Saban was interested in bringing Freeze onto his staff in some capacity. It was even reported by multiple media outlets in mid-January that Freeze visited Alabama. Weeks passed, though, and nothing was ever officially announced about him joining the Crimson Tide’s staff, and Saban eventually turned elsewhere to fill the open positions.

Now, thanks to the report, we have a bit of an idea what happened. According to Talty and Zenith’s story, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey discouraged Alabama from hiring Freeze. “Sankey informed both Freeze and Alabama that it would look bad for the SEC for Freeze to be back in coaching in the league while Ole Miss suffered from NCAA penalties incurred under his watch,” the story explained, and it goes on to say the league supposedly prefers Freeze “go off the radar” for some time before returning to coach at one of its member institutions.

I get the SEC’s concern in regard to the “look” of Freeze coaching at another member institution while Ole Miss is on probation. At the same time, Alabama apparently wasn’t the only one interested in adding Freeze to their staff. According to the same story, LSU and Missouri considered the possibility of making Freeze their next offensive coordinator. By hiring Freeze as an assistant, it isn’t as though they would be making him the face of their team. They should be allowed to do as they please, even if the league would insist on limiting Freeze’s availability to the media to help appease the situation.

Furthermore, Freeze’s alleged moral failings are well-documented and don’t bear repeating, but none of what he’s been accused of doing in that regard should bar him from the coaching profession. The NCAA has spoken, and while it chose to limit him from head coaching opportunities, it did nothing to keep him from the game altogether. After this coming season, the SEC needs to relent and let the man coach again in the league if that’s what he wants to do.

The other issue was a decision made Wednesday by the NCAA to ban former players from practicing with their teams. This was done most notably by Alabama, which has used several former players over the years to emulate certain opponents’ players during practice, but it was also used by other teams like Clemson (Tajh Boyd as a stand-in for Alabama’s Jalen Hurts before the 2017 title game) and Cal (Marshawn Lynch as a scout team running back leading up to its 2016 game in Hawaii).

Here’s my question: If those two other teams — and not Nick Saban — were the only ones doing it, would anyone care? I would argue there is no chance of this rule even being brought up were it not for Saban being the one doing it. I say that because a cursory Google search recalls the 2008 “Saban Rule” that banned college coaches from going to high schools during the recruiting evaluation period from mid-April to the end of May. They did this because under the old system, coaches could visit high schools to meet with coaches, teachers and counselors, but could never initiate contact with with a recruit. A recruit, however, could “innocently” run into the coach while he was on campus, and coaches were then not supposed to exchange anything more than customary greetings.

Of course, some were accused of doing more than just that, Saban among them, and the rule was implemented to close the loophole altogether. Chalk me up as someone who doesn’t understand why there’s a need to totally eliminate college coaches from talking to high school recruits during the spring in the first place, but I can at least understand wanting to close an alleged loophole in an existing rule. What, exactly, is the point of banning former players from practice?

Before this rule was put into place, any team could have taken advantage of having former players stand in for opposing teams’ players during practice. Just because only a few were actually doing it doesn’t mean those teams had some sort of competitive advantage. If your argument is that a scout team player is getting denied an opportunity to be the stand-in in favor of the former player, you’re talking about one spot on the practice squad against one specific opponent. It isn’t like teams doing this were shuffling former players in and out on a week-to-week basis; these were isolated instances.

Some of these former players may not be on pro rosters — in fact, I imagine most, if not all, weren’t on pro rosters if they had the time to practice with their former colleges during the season. Letting them get some practice reps could serve to give them an athletic outlet while revisiting former teammates and coaches simultaneously. Them doing so wasn’t hurting the game, so why is it being discouraged other than to try to limit Saban? Because if we’re being honest, that’s all this rule is about.

Enough with the faux moral outrage, SEC. Let Hugh Freeze coach again. And enough coming up with dumb rules just to irk Saban, NCAA. Let the former players practice with their old teams if they want, because it’s their time, and there’s no meaningful negative impact in them doing so.