Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze was last year’s surprising star of the year in the SEC. He entered the league with little fanfare and took over a program stuck at the bottom of its division. But like Vanderbilt’s James Franklin in 2011, Freeze served notice in 2012 that a less-heralded hire can take care of business, too.
Last season the Rebels finished the regular season 6-6, won back the Egg Bowl trophy from Mississippi State, went bowling and beat Pitt to finish 7-5. And then Freeze and staff went out and landed a top 10 signing class last month.
Expectations for 2013 are growing in Oxford. But Freeze wants to make sure the heads of his players don’t swell too much thanks to one surprising season:
“I’ll be the first to warn that the little success we’ve had can also be an enemy. You can start thinking that you don’t have to go as hard on certain plays. We have to be on our guard against that also. we’ve got to have the same hunger that we had when we wanted to quit being known as the team that was the automatic win on your schedule for a couple of years. We’ll guard against that.”
The Rebels will open the season at Vanderbilt on ESPN on a Thursday night. Four of UM’s first five games will be on the road (at VU, home against Southeast Missouri, then road trips to Texas, Alabama, and Auburn with an open date thrown in). With that kind of start, the last thing Ole Miss needs is for its players to come down with a case of the big head.