How everything works in corporate college athletics was on full display the other day, when Ole Miss football Hugh Freeze abruptly stepped down six weeks before the start of the season. His crime: He didn't win enough, especially in the SEC.
OK, OK. So that's not officially why Ole Miss offloaded him.
It offloaded him because he was apparently making calls to an escort service on a company phone, a violation of personal morality apparently too much to ignore for even officials at a football-crazy school in the football-crazy South. Freeze couldn't survive that, even if he'd survived so far the NCAA sniffing around his increasingly sleazy program, leveling 21 charges of academic, booster and recruiting shenanigans.
Mainly he survived that because Ole Miss was winning. Well, sort of.
What Ole Miss wasn't doing under Freeze was winning enough in the SEC, where he was 19-21. He hadn't won a conference title. And he surely hadn't won a national title.
Which brings us to how things work.
Because while Hugh Freeze was forced to step down for calling an escort service, up in Kentucky, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino still has a job despite presiding over a program that was running a brothel out of its basketball facility. Pitino, of course, claimed he didn't know nothin' 'bout no brothel. And he got away with that nonsense because ...
Well. Because he did win a national title, in 2013.
The fact Louisville's been stripped of that title now doesn't really matter, because Louisville fans and alums don't give a damn what the NCAA says. Their Cardinals still won. And besides, this is Kentucky and this is basketball.
So Pitino lives on because he delivered a title, bogus or not.
And Hugh Freeze, because this is Mississippi and this is football, is out of a job because he didn't deliver a title, and was 19-21 in the SEC besides.
Winning absolves everything. Not winning absolves nothing.