The root of the Ole Miss rise was its 2013 recruiting class, which included five-star prospects Tunsil (who recanted his commitment to Georgia), Robert Nkemdiche and receiver Laquon Treadwell. That class lifted Ole Miss into the top five of the national rankings in 2014, to two famous victories over Alabama and to consecutive major bowls. Will that yield be worth what could be coming?
Tunsil, R. Nkemdiche and Treadwell were Round 1 draftees in April, but only the latter, who went 23rd overall, was taken in a slot commensurate to his talent. Tunsil slipped to 13th, Nkemdiche to 29th. That’s the effect a gas-mask video and a fall from a hotel ledge can have on prospective employers, and those incidents made us wonder: What kind of program was Ole Miss running?
Now this: Nine violations, four deemed major, alleged against the Rebels under Freeze. Before February's signing day, whispers held that the allegations would mostly involve violations under former coach Houston Nutt. Having received the notice in January, Ole Miss knew better. But why let the truth stand in the way of another bumper crop? (Rivals rated the Rebels' 2016 class the nation's seventh-best.)
Having penalized itself while admitting that "serious violations" occurred, Ole Miss now must determine if Tunsil was indeed paid by coaches. If so, there'll be more allegations, harsher sanctions — remember, the NCAA has yet to affix its penalties — and maybe even a Freeze-out.
Twice in two days, we've seen up-from-oblivion programs brought low. In the grand scheme, Ole Miss' stuff (loaner cars, possibly paying a player) is garden-variety. Baylor's was reprehensible human behavior. So don't play the moral-equivalence game here. There is no moral equivalence.