Matt Luke is a very good choice to lead Ole Miss football program; Ross Bjork should have been fired
For many years NASCAR has had what it called its “silly season” (driver changes, team changes, crew changes). Politics can certainly have its silly season at any time. SEC football is not immune from having its own silly season of coaching changes. Former interim Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is the new head of the Rebel football program. That is a good thing and he deserves a shot. Luke played at Ole Miss as did his father and brother. He is a Rebel through and through and deserves the job. There is one report that if Luke got the job, it depended on the Rebels beating rival Mississippi State. If true, it is sad because Luke deserved the job and just one game, even against the Bulldogs, should not have been the determining factor. When Ole Miss AD Russ Bjork announced Luke was his pick, he said he had made a wide search and determined his best choice as a new head football coach was already in Oxford. Who is Bjork kidding? With all its problems with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Ole Miss was not exactly the sexiest and most attractive football coaching job in the nation. A big problem in Oxford is too many Ole Miss fans are outraged with the NCAA penalties. They are unrepentant and think the Rebels are victims. I don’t see how Bjork should survive as AD. The NCAA mess at Ole Miss took place on his watch. Add in the existing Rebel players that are considering transferring to other schools. The parents of one player told a national reporter that when their son was being recruited, they ask disgraced and former Coach Hugh Freeze how the NCAA investigation could impact the Rebel football program, and thus, their son’s future. They were not told the truth, but even more, the parents also asked Bjork the same question. They got the same bogus answer from Bjork they got from Freeze. Ole Miss is appealing the 2018 bowl ban, but if
Landslide vote against union at Nissan is a win
for Nissan workers and also for Mississippi
On the Monday after the Saturday when workers at the Nissan plant in Canton overwhelmingly rejected the United Automobile Workers attempt to unionize, The Wall Street Journal called the vote “another humiliation” for the UAW. The editorial noted the UAW spent heavily to win the unionization vote and enlisted supporters such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez and actor Danny Glover. Of course, the UAW was supported by Mississippi’s own congressman Bennie Thompson, the state NAACP and Jackson’s new mayor, Chokwe Lumumba. I had previously been told about 65 percent of the workers at the Nissan plant are black, but the WSJ said more than 80 percent of those who voted were African Americans. Of course, the UAW tried to exploit racial politics before the vote. Socialist Sen. Sanders said the UAW supporters were “connecting workers rights with civil rights.” Fortunately for the Nissan workers and future industrial development in Mississippi, playing the race card did not work for the UAW and its supporters like Bennie Thompson, longtime radical Danny Glover and Mayor Lumumba. The WSJ editorial was right on target when it said “race-baiting fell flat in Canton.” Most workers at the plant make $24-26 per hour. What do you think most of them would be making elsewhere? The WSJ also noted, and I assume the Nissan workers were also aware, a week before the vote a deceased UAW vice president teamed up with an official at Fiat-Chrysler to allegedly steal millions of dollars from a fund that was intended to train auto workers. The wife of the late UAW VP and the Fiat-Chrysler official have been indicted. UAW leaders often live high off the hog compared to the workers they represent. It is no wonder during the past 35 years the UAW’s ranks have shrunk by more than 75 percent. The Center for Union Facts also estimates during the past 10 years big labor unions have used more than $1 billion in member dues to donate to the Democratic Party and other left-wing special-interest groups. While workers at Nissan were voting 2,244 to 1,307 against joining the UAW, Toyota and Mazda announced they will spend $1.6 billion to build another assembly plant in the South. The plant is expected to have 4,000 jobs, a huge prize for whatever southern state is the winner of the competition to build the plant. That competition will be very stiff and Mississippi may be a longshot to win the plant, but one thing is very clear – if Nissan had lost the vote to the UAW, Mississippi would have zero chance to secure the economic development prize.
Correction and apology to Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins
In the August 2 WeidieReport, I commented that popular radio talk show host Bo Bounds noted a disclosure lapse at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. In that post I was incorrect when I wrote that veteran Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins had written several
John Doe and others are like Richard Nixon except in this case, the crime (allegations of NCAA recruiting violations) is as bad as the cover-up
The Ole Miss NCAA football violations saga continues. Part of the story almost seems like a soap opera. Apart from the NCAA process, perhaps the most soap-opera like part of the story in how some Ole Miss boosters involved in the alleged cheating are doing everything possible to avoid being publicly exposed. There’s little doubt public exposure would cause embarrassment, humiliation and possibly even worse for some prominent and, in some cases, well known Rebel alumni or boosters. On March 22, the WeidieReport filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with Ole Miss for the names of any alumni or boosters who Ole Miss had disassociated from Rebel athletics because of the NCAA allegations. On May 3, the assistant general counsel at the school furnished me four letters sent to boosters notifying them of the decision to disassociate them from Ole Miss athletic programs. Shortly after that a reliable source informed me Ole Miss athletic officials had made five calls to boosters to inform them they also were being disassociated from Ole Miss athletics. The calls were reportedly made one evening and I was given four of the five names. Apparently, the individuals were not the same ones in the redacted letters. A John Doe filed action to stop the release of the names. The staff at the Mississippi Ethics Commission recommended names be released and apparently Ole Miss was going to comply. Ole Miss backed off giving the names pending the July 14 meeting of the Ethics Commission when the staff decision would be considered. Steve Robertson, Mississippi State beat writer for Scout.com, and blogger James Hendrix, took aggressive FOI action with the Ethics Commission. On July 14 members of the Ethics Commission ruled in favor of releasing the booster names and John Doe promptly filed legal action in Hind County against Ole Miss and the Ethics Commission to prevent them from making public the names of the boosters involved in the NCAA allegations (i.e. Ole Miss football cheating). If
Will Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze survive? Will Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter be strong enough to handle his AD, coach and the mess in Oxford?
Is there anything that stirs more passion in Mississippi than a heated political discussion or campaign? Of course there is and the easy answer is SEC football, in particular the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. When NCAA allegations were announced against Ole Miss athletics about a year ago, a firestorm of denials, finger-pointing, defiance, charges of persecution by the NCAA, a lot of spin control by Ole Miss and much, much more erupted. The volume increased recently with additional and very serious allegations against Ole Miss football. New Chancellor Jeff Vitter, Athletic Director Ross Bjork and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze filmed a 20 minute video to discuss the allegations, how Ole Miss would respond and announced a self-imposed bowl ban for 2017 and that the school would forfeit almost $8 million in SEC postseason revenue. While discussing the video with a friend, I made the mistake of calling it a press conference. I was quickly corrected. It was not a press conference and reporters were not invited so no questions by the press took place. The situation at Ole Miss has received widespread national coverage. While the final outcome may not be known for another year, the overwhelming consensus is the Rebels will suffer more severe penalties from the NCAA. It has been argued the NCAA wants to make an example of Ole Miss and that the university’s pre-emptive self-imposed penalties were a self-serving appeasement that won’t satisfy the NCAA. The most interesting speculation is how the investigation will impact Vitter, Bjork
Goofy suggestions about changing our state flag
At the end of November it was announced that distinguished Mississippi author Greg Iles of Natchez will be the featured speaker for the seventh annual Statehood Day celebration on Dec. 10 at the Old Capitol in Jackson. The story in the Clarion.Ledger that best-selling author Iles will headline Statehood Day quickly evolved into one of the newspaper’s favorite drumbeats – removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state flag. The story noted that Iles and another best-selling author, former Mississippian John Grisham, drafted a full-page newspaper ad calling for removal of the emblem.
From that point, the story was more about the state flag than any celebration of Mississippi’s entry 198 years ago into the United States. Clarion.Ledger reporter Sherry Lucas quoted Iles as saying, “It’s hard to believe that we’re so far behind the rest of the South on his issue.” Then Iles really jumped off into the deep end of the pool. He said, “As for whether – or when – the state flag will be changed, I’ll tell you this: on the day that the football teams of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and USM say they won’t play another game until the flag comes down, we’re within five days of the change happening.” As we often see from other celebrity types, especially those of the Hollywood variety, fame does not always come with a heavy dose of common sense. As in the case when some members of the University of Missouri football team threatened to boycott football practice and even Tiger games if the president of the school did not resign, it was a clear case of the inmates taking over the asylum. Yes, I agree that if the Rebel, Bulldog and Golden Eagle football teams refused to play games until the state flag is changed, it would certainly prompt action on the flag. It will also cause a deeper division of people in our state and would be a stupid plan of action to force change. Iles then advocated an even more extreme position. He added, “Same thing if the NCAA refuses to allow other SEC teams to play sanctioned games in Mississippi. The Legislature is probably willing to lose a few $30 million movies over the flag, but this state is all about college football. Football is likely to be the final agent of change.” In the article, Iles goes on to make even more absurd and derogatory statements about the state he calls home. The NCAA makes enough bad decisions without