HOOVER, Ala. -- Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Thursday that he and his staff could have done a better job monitoring the actions of those inside and outside his program that led to NCAA infractions and added to a lengthy NCAA investigation.
During the final day of SEC media days, Freeze was asked why he and his staff weren't thorough enough with the recruitment of the high-profiled prospects they signed and what they did after those players got on campus.
"Could we have done better -- obviously we could," Freeze said. "We will learn from where we made mistakes, of course, but there's a lot of things we did right also. ... I know how much time we spend into educating our young men of the dangers that they could face, and still, sometimes kids make mistakes, but we look forward to that day -- we really do -- where we can say here's our program, here's what brought us to this allegation, and we will accept the ruling when it comes."
In January, Ole Miss received a notice of allegations from the NCAA which listed 28 violations against the school's athletic department. Thirteen of those involved the football program, nine of which were alleged to have occurred under Freeze's watch. Most of those nine revolved around All-America left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who on draft night admitted to taking money from an Ole Miss coach and sparked a continued investigation by the NCAA.
Freeze said he hasn't spoken to Tunsil at all since draft night, but he said he's heard from counsel that Tunsil would be willing to speak the with NCAA.
Freeze has faced a plethora of criticism about this investigation and his staunch backing of his and his staff's actions. That criticism related to a Freeze tweet that he sent out in February of 2013 after many accused Ole Miss of cheating after landing its historic, top-five recruiting class in 2013 that featured Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche and Laquon Treadwell. All were ranked No. 1 at their respective positions.
"If you have facts about a violation, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org," Freeze wrote in that now-deleted tweet. "If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family."
Amid the allegations facing his program, Freeze said Thursday that he regretted sending out that tweet.
"Sometimes you make decisions that probably aren't the sharpest," Freeze said. "... Do I regret doing it? Absolutely."
While Freeze understands that head coaches are being held more responsible by the NCAA for improprieties that could take place involving other members of their staffs, Freeze said that it's tough for any head coach to monitor every aspect of his program, both inside and out.
"It is what it is, and we have to be over every aspect of our program," he said. "I can tell you I have absolute zero interest in cutting corners for success. I have a lot of failures and a lot of stuff that's not real great ... but me wanting to cut corners is not one of them. Having said that, if mistakes are made, we're held accountable to a certain standard, unless you can prove you've set the proper atmosphere with compliance, which I think I have.
"I don't think there's any head coach at our level that can control everything that happens in this day and time."
Freeze added that he hasn't been given any timeline on any sort of resolution from the NCAA on its current investigation. When it's come to recruiting, Freeze said the investigation hasn't greatly impacted Ole Miss' current class. According to ESPN's RecruitingNation, the Rebels' 2017 class is currently unranked, but four of Ole Miss' 10 commitments are ESPN 300 members.
"I'm probably too candid, but we're doing really well because people know us for who we are," Freeze said. "If you look at all the top top guys in the nation -- a good percentage of them -- we're in it [for them]. Some of them are waiting to see [what the NCAA does with its investigation of Ole Miss], which is very reasonable to me. I've been very candid with all the recruits and the commits that we have. I don't know what the end game exactly is going to be -- I don't. I have confidence that we're going to handle whatever it is and move forward, but I have no idea, it's not in my control.
"I think we'd have a few more commitments right now if it wasn't for [the investigation]."