OT - Ole Miss Recruiting....pee in the cup

Submitted by AC1997 on February 7th, 2013 at 1:30 AM

Since it was a slow (but happy) National Signing Day for Michigan fans, I thought I'd take on a related topic today regarding recruiting and our friends in SEC land. 

As Brian briefly touched on during his NSD piece, Bill Simmons’ latest column dealt with the subject of steroids and how the media avoids speculation about who might be juicing.  It is a really good piece that you should read.  The message is this – we all have a mental list of players who we want to see pee in a cup to prove their innocence…..why not openly talk about those lists? 

Many of us feel like NCAA corruption is a similar topic – taboo to the main stream media.  Much like how the baseball writers looked the other way when McGwire and Sosa were “saving the sport” we see college media look the other way as Saban hands out medical redshirts like candy, Reggie Bush lives in free housing, Oregon pays a pseudo agent, or OSU lets players trade equipment for benefits around town.  Why has there never been a “deep throat source” willing to blow up recruiting violations?  John Bacon even touches on the subject in “Three And Out” when interviewing the quarterbacks, but doesn’t dig deeper. 

In 2013 the obvious “pee in the cup” list for recruiting corruption starts with Ole Miss.  This is a team with a mediocre recent past if we’re being  generous.  They haven’t won the SEC since the 1960’s and haven’t been relevant nationally except for their #20 finish in 2009.  Yet this season they bring in a consensus top ten recruiting class and some of the nation’s best players.  What gives?

It is easy to speculate about potential corruption but aside from a picture on LaQuan Treadwell’s twitter account of him holding several hundred dollars, there’s no way for us to have any evidence.  So we could sit here and rant about it while sounding like Skip Bayliss debating the wonders of Tim Tebow, but then the message is lost.  Can we find statistical evidence that something is deviating from the norm with Ole Miss? 

I contend that there are several ways we can do this, and I’m going to start such a conversation.  However, I have neither the time nor the skill to finish this scavenger hunt so I wanted to post this primer and then let the power of the Michigan blog sphere potentially dig further if there’s interest.

Below is a table summarizing Mississippi’s recruiting classes from the past several years along with their final record and rank:






Total # of


5* Recruits

(# from MS)

4* Recruits

(# from MS)

4-5* NOT

from MS


n/a 7 27 3 (0) 9 (5) 7
2012 7-6 40 19 0 (-) 2 (1) 1
2011 2-10 19 27 1 (1) 5 (5) 0
2010 4-8 18 25 0 (-) 7 (6) 1
2009 9-4 18 37 1 (0) 8 (2) 7
2008 9-4 29 31 1 (0) 2 (0) 3
2007 3-9 27 22 0 (-) 6 (1) 5
2006 4-8 15 30 2 (0) 7 (4) 5
2005 3-8 30 28 1 (1) 2 (0) 2
2004 4-7 45 25 0 (-) 3 (3) 0
2003 10-3 38 21 0 (-) 2 (1) 1
2002 7-6 33 18 1 (1) 8 (7) 1


Without running any data through statistical analysis, here are some observations:

  • There were several good recruits in the state of Mississippi this season and historically players from that state stay home to play football.  The Rebels deserve credit for signing those guys and that helps to tone down suspicion perhaps. 
  • Coach Hugh Freeze was hired before last season and did enact somewhat of a turn-around with a 7-6 record that included a bowl win.  New coaches can sometimes lead to a bump in recruiting prowess.  However, prior to this season he had a total of ONE YEAR of college head coaching experience…..at Arkansas State. 
  • But there’s still something out of the ordinary going on here:

    • Ole Miss has never had a class ranked higher than 15th….but this year they are 7th.  It would also seem that their higher ranked classes from past years were based as much on quantity (37 recruits in 2009???) as quality. 
    • In the four previous seasons Ole Miss got a TOTAL of eight players ranked 4-star or higher to commit from out of state.  In 2013 they have seven
    • Only one five-star recruit in four seasons has attended from out of state….three are coming this year. 
    • From 2010-2012 the Rebels had a record of 13-24 and pulled in a total of one 5-star and fourteen 4-star recruits, all but one of whom were from the state of Mississippi.  This season they have signed twelve top recruits and just five are from the state.

It is very possible that Hugh Freeze is a great recruiter and has found a new method that is within the rules to attract this talent.  It is also possible that this recruiting class had somewhat of a snowball effect and talent attracted talent.  But there’s enough circumstantial evidence here for further investigation.  This is where I turn it over to the talent on this blog.  Here are some ideas for further analysis:

  • Have other teams out-performed their historical trends by this much in the recent past?
  • Based on the presumed correlation between record and recruiting success (probably 2-year record) has any other team out-performed their on-field success this abnormally before? 
  • Can we quantify the typical recruiting improvement a coach sees after his first year and compare it to what Freeze is doing? 
  • Has anyone on the blog been recruited and witnessed corruption first hand?
  • Are there any theories on why this seemingly obvious corruption hasn't come out in the open at any school despite the large number of people involved and the fact that many of these people are teenage kids not being recruited for their ACT scores? 

Maybe I'm alone in my frustration on this topic, but when you hear ESPN go on and on about the SEC and even Ole Miss specifically on signing day I'd like to hear someone at least ask the question - how are they doing this? 






February 7th, 2013 at 3:15 AM ^

after all the talk about Ole Miss recruiting this year, I was expecting your chart to show me something more damning.  Sometimes a team just has a better year, and one recruit can influence another.  2nd year coach after a first year bowl win - I would expect their recruiting to be a little better at least.  Jumping from 19/18th ranked to 7th ranked is not that shocking at all. The 40th rank is more abnormal, but that was influenced by only 19 commits and after they lost their coach, so that makes a ton of sense.

I guess your post convinced me, but not the way you were intending.

turd ferguson

February 7th, 2013 at 3:22 AM ^

Here’s my take on this:

First, I think the questions are fair.  We know that recruiting violations happen, and it seems neither healthy nor necessary to close our eyes whenever something looks fishy.  I also hate the “everyone does it” defense, since 1. we have no idea if that’s true and 2. even if it is true there are vast differences in the types of violations that programs could be committing and the degree to which they would provide illegitimate competitive advantages.

Still, I don’t see a smoking gun here yet.  Based on what you’ve written, Ole Miss now has four top 20 recruiting classes in the past five years.  While clearly the best of the group, this #7 class doesn’t strike me as a too-extreme-to-be-believed outlier.  (Now it’s possible that they’ve been cheating for most of those years.)  Beyond that, there are reasonable explanations for a couple of this year’s out-of-state 5-stars choosing Ole Miss.  Nkemdiche has his brother at Ole Miss and Treadwell has his friend, Anthony Standifer.  The Treadwell tweet was a little fishy, but it was just a few hundred dollars, so it’s obviously not crazy to think that he earned it legitimately.

Basically, I hope that people continue to look at this, and honestly I’d be surprised if Ole Miss is clean, but I need to see more evidence before I’m convinced.


February 7th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

Everyone around here realizes that when Commitapalooza occured last year, the interwebs were all aflutter with talk of Michigan cheating.  No one here would believe that, so why do we assume that Ole Miss is?  

Nkemdiche has a brother on campus that lead the team in tackles.  Treadwell has Standifer, who lest we forget, was the person that first brought Treadwell to Michigan.  Connor went to high school in the area.  And that DT out of JC was an Ole Miss recruit before he had to go to JC.  The story on the rest is easy, get them all on campus at the same time, and have the top guys recruit the other top guys.

I'm not saying there is no possibility of 'extra benefits' - likely of the female variety - but there are also reasonable explainations for the recruits as well.


February 7th, 2013 at 7:29 AM ^

The picture of treadwell shows him holding ...300 dollars. I had three hundred dollars whenI was in high school. Everybody acts like it was 2 grand. I still think something shady is up with ole miss.


February 7th, 2013 at 7:52 AM ^

$305 is what you can clearly see.  Based on the crisp-ness of the $100 bill on the left that is CLEARLY in a stack of money that is also of the utmost crispyness, it is easy to guess the rest of the stack is fresh $100 bills.  Could they be singles, sure, but that would just make me think that a booster took him to the strip clubs near Oxford and he didn't have a chance to "make it rain" and why would they be so crisp.  Either way, there is clearly more than just $305 there and coming from a non-wealthy family where he never tweets about working, it is easy to suspect he got that money from an outside source.  Even more odd it was posted the day after he returned from a visit to Ole Miss.

All I am saying is he made a stupid choice to post a picture of lots of money and immediately take it down with no explanation after a recruiting trip.  If you don't want people to be suspicious of you, don't do suspicious things.


February 7th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

Playing the objective here. That money is not that crisp. We don't know where it came from. Like I said, I believe something was going on that may our may not be against the rules. if he had stacks of hundos why would he not show them all. All we are doing is speculating on why an eighteen year old has what a lot of us would consider pocket change.

His Dudeness

February 7th, 2013 at 8:20 AM ^

"Sometimes a great class just comes together." - Huge Freeze

The worst part about all of this is there are no consequences. It is almost as if the incentives are set up so that doing this and getting pub and maybe getting some minor slap on the wrist 5-10 years down the road makes it all worth it. Why wouldn't you pay recruits?

Sextus Empiricus

February 7th, 2013 at 8:31 AM ^

I'm more interested in OSU closing out their class but I don't mind reading this.

OT is not needed as there have been recent recruiting battles with Ole Miss...which is to your point.

Simmons is reacting to the many stories percussing in big time sport. Journaiistic integrity is preserved with shots across the bow. In that vein...well shot.

I looked at the geographic splay of Alabama's recent classes and didn't see much conspiratorial correlation. Ole Miss is a special case and place. Tables and charts can't frame that picture. If they win I would be more inclined to look for fire. Right now all I see is desire...to win...to be better.

Looking for integrity in Ole Miss is misguided if not in CFB at large. Ultimately I am happy with finding it in my own house. I prefer not to see Tressel lauded on moranic shoulders at "the" game in conference. I expect the Fab Five not to be lauded in March.


February 7th, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

As one of the posters said, i was expecting the chart to be more damning than it looks now too.  In fact, the first version I put together did not include the class rank column.  If you ignore that and focus on the number of 4-5 star players (12 in 2013, 15 in the previous three years combined) it starts to look a little concerning. 

Besides that and the Treadwell tweet the other thing that bugs me is the lack of an obvious innocent reason.  USC can offer California and Hollywood.  Alabama can offer championships and a pipeline to the NFL.  Oregon can offer flashy uniforms and flashy offense.  Miami can offer babes and beaches.  I'm sure the campus and girls are both pretty, but going to a land-locked rural campus to play for an inexperienced coach at a mediocre school is not the recipe for recruiting success.

I did like the comment about how some of the 5-star guys knew people there and that may have been a draw, but I'm not sure that's enough.  As with steroids, I want to trust these schools and hope they're doing it the right way......but they are making it difficult.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

What could Ole Miss offer?  It's in the SEC, fairly easy academics, a chance to start immediately, be the Big Man on Campus, warm all year long, and according to the book Meat Market: Inside the Smash-mouth World of College Recruiting, the author Bruce Feldman claims that they have some of the most beautiful and friendly coeds in the south.  

Who knows what that really means, but to SOME 17 and 18 year olds that combination would be enticing.  


Recruiting is a strategic plan that leads to a series of take-off-the- gloves, knock down, no holds barred street fights.  It's never over.  But then, that's part of the intrigue, isn't it?


Go Blue!


February 7th, 2013 at 9:48 AM ^

Treadwell didn't pick Ole Miss? Assuming low 3* take their place in Ole Miss' rating by Rivals, my quick math drops them to 12-14 ranking. Okl and Clem would also jump higher and bump Ole Miss lower if they landed Tread and Nkem, respectively. Tunsil would also go elsewhere without those two.

Freeze even noted yesterday the "serendipity" of Nkem's brother and Tread's friend, and then Tunsil joining with Nkem and Tread on board. Of course SEC recruiting is shady with boosters & hostesses - but Ole Miss just seems very lucky with a few guys and Freeze is very good at selling hope.

Saban and Miles will try to pummel them on the field this year to crush any recruiting mojo.


February 7th, 2013 at 9:50 AM ^

Here's my take on the Treadwell photo - don't tell me there's $305 there.  That is a stack of money in that picture.  And those are crisp bills.  How many of us have ever had a stack of crisp bills lying around?  If it is for a job, then he took his paycheck to the bank, asked them to give him cash back, and carried cash around.  Possible?  Sure.  Probable?  No. 

Maybe he got lucky at a casino (assuming he's old enough to gamble).  If that's the case, why would he take the picture down instead of bragging about it?  Maybe he cleaned out some gutters or had a rich uncle die  - possible, but then why not talk about it?  Instead you get the suspicious timing combined with no comments and an immediate removal.  If you do suspicious stuff we have a right to be suspicious. 

That being said, his picture also illustrates the flaw with this conspiracy theory argument.  Most of these recruits are not smart enough to avoid doing and saying stupid things.  Even if you assume all of this is with untraceable cash, how can hundreds of recruits over the years all keep this a secret?  Wouldn't there be a pissed off girlfriend somewhere that would blab to someone about how her football boyfriend wasn't the same once he got $10,000 on his recruiting trip? 

biakabutuka ex…

February 7th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

I think one place you need to look is at known "cheaters", and their recruiting prowess before and after the cheating started (e.g. Auburn, USC, and yes, OSU). Then you can build a profile of what a cheater's recruiting class looks like compared to their historical norm. There may not be any telling indicators, but even that would be useful to know.

Looking at wins and losses can be instructive, but the only thing that money could realistically guarantee you is better looking recruiting classes--I would argue that all other data is noise, because good and bad coaches cheat.


February 7th, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

As much as I want to believe Ole Miss committed major violations, the more I think they just got lucky.  They got lucky when they offered Denzel Nkemdiche a few years ago and he ended up having a younger brother who happened to be the #1 recruit in the nation.  They got lucky the Nkemdiche's grew up in a household that wanted their sons to play together. 

They got lucky Anthony Standifer didn't get in to Michigan or Notre Dame for whatever reason and Ole Miss was able to admit him.  That obviously helped with Treadwell. 

Once you start to build momentum in recruiting it's hard to stop and with 2 big names already in the fold it's no suprise others followed. 

Doesn't hurt their campus is beautiful, their female students are beautiful and most high school are probably more difficult academically. 

Was there some shady stuff going on?  Sure.  But it's the SEC and I'm almost positive they weren't doing anything those other schools weren't doing.  Is it going to matter in the long run?  Probably not a whole lot.  Bama and LSU aren't going anywhere and beside it actually helps the rest of the country that all those 5 stars didn't chose Bama/LSU/Florida/etc. 



February 7th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

Specifically, I appreciate putting in context of that Bill Simmons article, which was really well stated.  We question everything nowadays and this is really no different.

I don't know if Ole' Miss is really guilty of anything, but it certainly smells fishy enough to cause a lot of people to question the whole thing.


February 10th, 2013 at 7:49 PM ^

Actually, I agree with a lot of comments here that the more closely you look at it, Freeze was fortunate. Solid in-state guys, and the brother of the #1 recruit and best pal of the #1 WR, easier academics than at other schools etc.

I'm more interested now in Urban's 'uncommittable" offer.