Ole Miss has beaten Alabama on the field twice in a row, but beating Alabama extends far beyond the gridiron.
Recruiting is the backbone of college football and Rebels coach Hugh Freeze has been competitive with the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. Alabama is still on top of the recruiting mountain, but Freeze has won his share of battles against Saban recently, and has brought Ole Miss back to relevancy on the field. Freeze attributes the improvement on the recruiting trail to authenticity and diligence.
“I feel like I have to personally recruit 12-15 guys in order to beat a Nick Saban who may call the parent one time,” Freeze told CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd. “They may still beat us. We’re winning our share now, but it’s taking an enormous amount of work to do. Will that ever change? It has … some.”
Freeze’s recruiting efforts came to fruition right away. He’s assembled four consecutive top-20 recruiting classes and two top-10 classes after having the No. 47 recruiting class in 2012, his first season in Oxford, Miss.
The program’s sudden rise to prominence in a division that features Alabama, Auburn and LSU has raised plenty of eyebrows and garnered some accusations of foul play. Freeze vehemently denies any illegal conduct.
“Have I been insulted? Absolutely. Many times,” Freeze told Dodd. “I handle it a lot better now. … The perception out there and the narrative of all this pay-for-play that is, in my opinion, very inaccurate.”
Whatever Freeze is doing, it’s working. The Rebels won 10 games in 2015, the first time since 2003, and have improved their record each year during Freeze’s tenure.