southern addiction

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss by photoreb

The recent stunning downfall of the Ole Miss football coach has all the elements of a Southern Gothic tale. I’m surprised this wasn’t based on a Faulkner novel. Hugh Freeze resigned abruptly after being caught with incriminating evidence of sexual hanky-panky. The story had all the true elements of a southern tragedy; sex, religion, and football. What better way to spend an Autumn Saturday afternoon.

The University of Mississippi has been under investigation almost since the day Freeze signed his initial contract. Posting Bible verses on Twitter and perfecting the clear-eyed steely stare of the morally persecuted, Freeze insisted to fans, administrators, and new recruits that he was innocent and God would help him prevail. He blamed his troubles on predecessors, competitors, the press, and sinful forces trying to destroy him.

This strategy has become very popular since the third week in January, but Freeze has been going at it for several years. The fact he was able to twice beat Alabama in the process, something no one else seems able to accomplish, added to his validity, and probably convinced several Rebel fans that God was indeed on their side.

His scheme to pin his troubles on former coach Houston Nutt doomed him. When his strategy involved doubling down rather than fessing up, Freeze was set upon by Nutt’s lawyer, which led to the discovery of a call to an escort service from a university phone while searching for incriminating calls between Ole Miss officials and members of the sporting press.

Freeze had an opportunity to explain that call away but stuck with his strategy. He either thought the Lord, or his supporters’ naïveté would save him. Anything but sex and he might have survived. His arrogance didn’t help. Most guys from these parts understand getting overpowered by sex but wonder why he didn’t either fess up earlier or act more humble.

There is an abundance of men in the South who are addicted to football and sex. Football simulates the age old process of fighting for the right to mate. Sex itself, well, no reason to explain that.

Not so many women are similarly afflicted, although there have been a few. I’m sure most men, in an honest moment, will agree that those women who loved sex and football as much as men have all been fondly remembered.

Women are more likely addicted to religion, what with their penchant for long term planning and making sure their offspring are well taken care of. Heaven appears to be a lot better place than College Station or Starkville.

We humans are bad to deny our urges. We are also bad to succumb to them when we think no one is watching. This started when we got civilized. The folks that study humans once considered the discovery of farming as the point civilization began.

More recent paleontologists believe we got civilized when we first came to accept myth as a bonding agent. This led to the ability of us to gather in large groups and share information and new ideas, rather than staying static like our hairy cousins. Among the most prevalent myths are religion, regional pride, and tribal superiority. Maybe we were better off as Hunter-Gatherers.

I’m sure Hugh Freeze currently thinks so.

###
Image: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss by photoreb (flickr CC).
Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.