Ole Miss officials have apologized after since-deleted tweets from the school's official football Twitter account on Saturday mocked former coach Hugh Freeze following the Rebels' 27-14 victory over Liberty at Oxford, Mississippi.
One of the tweets included a picture of Freeze coaching from a hospital bed two years ago at Liberty while recovering from surgery he underwent after a potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection entered his bloodstream and complicated a herniated disc in his back.
Freeze, in his third season as Liberty's coach, was returning to Ole Miss for the first time since resigning on July 20, 2017, after school officials found a "pattern of personal misconduct" that included phone calls to a number linked to a female escort service.
"These tweets were unfortunate and not who we are in Ole Miss athletics," Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter told ESPN. "When I found out about them, they were immediately taken down. I have spoken with [Liberty athletic director] Ian McCaw to relay my sincere apology. We will work to do better in the future."
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said he was unaware of the tweets until being told about them after his postgame news conference and offered his apologies to Freeze and Liberty.
"I have no affiliation with the Ole Miss football Twitter site, even though it may sound strange, and I first learned about the tweets after my press conference when Keith Carter told me about them," Kiffin told ESPN. "I'm completely embarrassed that anyone would put something out there like that making it look like it was a part of Ole Miss football. It was extremely disrespectful, bush league and classless, and I apologize, even though I had nothing to do with it, to Liberty and Hugh Freeze."
Freeze told ESPN he didn't want to comment on "something I had no control over," but praised the Ole Miss community for the way he was treated.
"For [wife] Jill and I, it was an answered prayer the reception we got," Freeze said. "We heard zero negative things, and it was incredible to visit with friends Friday and Saturday. The people there were so kind to us. Ole Miss has a really good football team, and I'm glad to see them winning again."
In five seasons as Ole Miss coach from 2012 to 2016, Freeze led the Rebels to four winning seasons, including a 10-win season in 2015 capped by the school's first Sugar Bowl win since 1970. Ole Miss beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015 under Freeze, and Nick Saban has lost to just four SEC opponents since.
Ole Miss was placed on NCAA probation in 2017 for violations that occurred during Freeze's tenure, and the sanctions included a two-year bowl ban.