The text from a pre-meeting visit I had with Hugh Freeze last night. We met in the Rebel Road Trip RV.
(How have you guys been received on the trip?)
Couldn't ask for any more. Everything you would hope for. The Rebel Nation, the fans and supporters, they're ready for a new start, and when they listen to Ross and I stand before them, they're convinced that we're what they're looking for. Obviously, we know we have to produce. I'm a realist, and I'm transparent with that, but I do think that it's almost a breath of fresh air, and everyone's ready to move forward on the same set of tracks.
(Have you seen division in the fan base that seemed to exist last year?)
At every stop I've been I just have not seen that. Obviously it was out there. I certainly hope that everyone is ready to forget the past and move forward.
(What has been the message on this trip?)
Unity. He and I are together. The chancellor is with us and supporting us. We need unity from the fan base. Obviously most of the people who come to these are probably 'in' already, but we need them to go out and be word of mouth and say, 'Hey look, this is the deal. This is our coach, this is our AD. Moving forward, let's all get together and go.'
(How important is it that you and Ross be seen together at this event?)
Invaluable. I don't think there's any other way. When it was first brought to me I wasn't crazy about it. I hate being out of the office this long. I know I have kids there with academic issues, and I just feel like I'm losing ground in recruiting and the whole deal, but there's no way we could have portrayed this message by email together. It's been invaluable for them to see us together.
(Did you know Ross previously?)
We met about a year ago in Mobile. I was real impressed with him then and even more impressed with him now. He's definitely the right fit for me and for Ole Miss. I had kind of a back seat to everything that was going on. I was not at the forefront, but of course Archie(Manning) and Mike (Glenn) kept me informed because of the different wa it was done with me being hired first and him coming second. They were very clear with both of us when they set us down. 'You guys are hitched together. We're hitched to you, and we've got to get this done. I feel very comfortable with him.
(Was it a concern for you in the hiring process that an AD had not been named?)
It never became a concern until after when I heard it was getting ready to happen. It wasn't a concern until it was about to happen. Then I got a call from Willie Taggart, a good friend of mine, who said, 'You're going to absolutely love this guy.'
(Can you update me on your grades issues?)
There are really five to six that are the mountains that you're really concerned about. Some of them you may not know until fall, because they could get into a position where they could still gain eligibility in the summer months. It would be totally unrealistic for me to sit here and expect all of them to make it. I do think we will have some casualties.
(If available, is Nick Brassell primarily defense?)
If available, he's an NFL corner that will get some touches on offense.
(Dave Wommack said he felt he had 5-6 on defense who could compete in the SEC. How many do you have on offense?)
I'd say six. We're no where near the depth we need. We need 12-14. That's what you need per side. I feel like I have six right now.
(Is the rest of that depth developing?)
In some cases, but not enough.
(Did you see what you need to see from Bo Wallace in terms of leadership?)
I saw the video. He was totally innocent on that (fight), but still, the choices you make on who you're around affect the leadership of our football team. He and I are very honest and up front. He has to work on his leadership and what is required to be the quarterback at Ole Miss. Hopefully he's learned some lessons.
(What did you think of the other juco transfers who went through spring?)
Dehendret Collins, Thank God we have him and Pierce Burton. I thought those were two big recruiting wins we had there in about a week's time, and I think D.J. (Bailey) is going to really help us in the offensive line, he just couldn't go through spring. He has a chance to help us inside. He's a physical kid. You'd like him to be more flexible, but he's a physical, tough kid, and he cares about Ole Miss.
(How do you measure success this first season?)
In Year 1 the reasonable expectations for anyone to expect from us is to compete passionately for 60 minutes and see what the scoreboard says. That's the only goal I'll talk about with our kids, with our fans with anyone else. That's the only expectation I'll have.
(How many freshmen will need to play key roles?)
6-8. At defensive end, defensive line. I think Isaac (Gross) and Channing (Ward) are going to come in and help us. I think Trae Elston is going to help us. I think Cody Core could help us at receiver. One of the tailbacks has got to play, maybe two of the tailbacks.
(How game ready is Channing Ward?)
Physically he's going to be as talented if not more than anybody we have on the field. How does he handle all the things that go with SEC football, that's too early to tell … going to class, doing things the right way, showing up when you're supposed to, going through the grind of fall camp, of practice week. It's a whole different world. How he'll handle all that I'm not sure, but there's no doubt he'll be one of the more talented kids on our team.