Wild Recruiting Weekend


Dec 31, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs fan during the game against the Rice Owls at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs beat Rice Owls 44 – 7. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

We just wrapped up the next to last recruiting weekend before National Signing Day. We told you things would get weird, and it certainly did this past weekend.

Chrisitian Byrd’s Rant

It started late last week when Christian Byrd, the host of Recruiting Central on Rebel Sports Radio, decided to go on a rant about Mississippi State Media (meaning us and other blogs) were perpetuating the idea that Hugh Freeze and the rest of the Ole Miss coaching staff are asking recruits to decommit and commit back for publicity. Some things that I wanted to talk about from that show.

  1. He says we have “psychotic, crazed every day is utter lunacy” stuff. He then spends the next ten minutes ranting about Mississippi State fans. And we’re the ones that are psychotic.
  2. He talks about how he can understand how Mississippi State fans would think something has to be fishy at Ole Miss when all we have is Starkville. He talks about how great Oxford is. This actually might make more sense if it was just Mississippi State fans who thought there was something strange going on in Oxford. It was coming from fan bases all across the country, not just us.
  3. He brings up that we are the ones on probation, not them. Yes, that is true. Do I think Ole Miss cheats, yes. I don’t harp on it thought. Why? Because everyone does. If you have read any real recruiting insiders and reporters, they will tell you that everyone is doing it. Ole Miss fans believe that because of Hugh Freeze’s public demonstration of his faith, that everything is 100% on the up and up. I don’t know Hugh Freeze, but I’d be willing to bet that he isn’t so special and great that he can convince 5 star prospects to commit to Ole Miss without committing  violations when other schools are wooing them while committing violations. That takes a pretty serious leap of faith.
  4. He brings up that he received messages and tweets that State fans were going to be spying in Oxford for all the illegal recruiting activity that would take place this weekend. I’m pretty sure I have more interaction with State fans than he does. When Bryant said that, it was news to me. His biggest piece of advice was to just walk away from State fans. Bryant should have done that when he prepared to say this. Whoever sent him those tweets and messages were just trying to rattle him and it apparently worked.
  5. Last, he brings up the Pony incident from about four years ago. Yes, he is correct. Some State recruits ended up at the Pony. What he fails to mention is that as soon as  it was reported, the coaching staff took swift action correct that mistake. What he doesn’t address is why is it okay for a coach who talks so openly about his faith to not address why his recruits are spending the nights of their recruiting visit at bars.

This is just further proof that much of the Ole Miss fan base is in left field when it comes to their coach. Freeze did a great job in 2012, and an average job in 2013. It’s great that he is a Christian, but he is a human too. Being good at recruiting requires getting your hands dirty. Freeze isn’t immune from that.

Sean Rawlings Drama

Sean Rawlings has been committed to Mississippi State for a while. The one thing he hasn’t had in that time though was an offer from Ole Miss. That is significant because both of his parents went to Ole Miss. He grew up an Ole Miss fan, and there has been speculation that if he got an offer, he would flip. The bad news is he got that offer prior to his visit to Oxford. The good news for State fans is that, as of when I wrote this, he has yet to announce if he would flip.

I don’t know if we are going to keep Rawlings on board or not (I lean heavily towards no). I’d like to keep him. You can always use as much help on the OL as you can get. If he does flip, I won’t hold it against him. If he has always been a Rebel fan, his family are all Rebels, it’d be hard to pass up the opportunity to play for the team you always wanted to play for growing up.

I do think this is more evidence for our “psychotic” theory about Freeze though. Why have they waited until a week and a half before signing day to offer a player who has been interested in his school since he first put on cleats? They continue to want to get publicity about flipping players, especially those committed to Mississippi State.

The Brandon Bryant Situation

Then there was the ultimate silliness that revolved around Brandon Bryant. This started late in the morning on Saturday when Steve Robertson, who covers Mississippi State recruting for Scout, sent out this tweet:

Then lots of rumors started. I don’t really want to get into what those rumors were. There were plenty of them. Just go onto some of the message boards, and you can get a really detailed account of what all was floating out there. Here is what I do know. After Robertson sent out that Tweet, it was not long after that when Bryant took down his Twitter cover and avatar that was covered in Mississippi State. It was then reflecting his high school stuff. That only strengthened the one rumor I will comment on, that his offer had been pulled from Mississippi State. After an entire day of his status with the Bulldogs being in limbo, he sent out this tweet:

As you can see, his Mississippi State Twitter profile was back. So what do I think? Bryant has been one of the most vocal recruits that Mississippi State has in this class. He has been one of the ones trying to get other recruits to come to Mississippi State. I don’t know if the coaching staff told him not to take visits to other schools if he wanted a scholarship at MSU, or if they just felt really confident that he wouldn’t take other visits. Whatever it was, it made things a little dicey to say the least.

I think the most obvious aspect to Bryant’s weekend is that he got some bad advice about taking a trip to Hattiesburg. One of the great things about Mississippi State’s prospects for 2014 is that we have so many key contributors returning to the team this year. The problem with it is we don’t have the room to sign a full class. The coaching staff is trying to make every slot that they have available count and get the most bang for their buck. Mullen and the rest of the coaches can’t be left out in the cold if they feel they are getting a Letter of Intent, but that player waffles at the last minute. If Bryant knows that he wants to be a Bulldog, he has to know that the coaches are going to have contingency plans in place if they aren’t 100% convinced a player is fully on board. I know these kids love the attention they get through the recruiting process, but the people around them need to remind them that the coaching staffs that they commit to before signing day do this for their livelihood. If they told Bryant not to make a visit, then he should have listened to that. If he made them believe he was done visiting, he should have stuck to that or at the very least, given them a heads up that he was going there. But, if you’re still not convinced that Bryant is coming to Starkville, listen to his mom.

There is one more weekend. There will be more silliness to come folks. A lot of it should stop after the players fax in their letters of intent. Until then, try not to get too worked up about what takes place leading up to it.