The Latest: Ole Miss coach quizzed more on off-field issues

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HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on SEC media days (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze wanted to talk about football on Thursday at SEC media days.

Instead, he spent much of his time at the podium taking questions about the off-the-field issues swirling around the program.

Freeze, in his sixth year at Ole Miss, didn't give much insight into the NCAA's long-running investigation into the football program. The Rebels are facing 21 allegations that include academic, booster and recruiting misconduct and have already self-imposed several sanctions, including a one-year postseason ban.

Freeze said that "we obviously created" most of the drama surrounding the program and that Ole Miss was taking steps to correct its mistakes.

Freeze also said he couldn't comment about a lawsuit filed against the university on Wednesday by former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. The civil suit filed in federal court alleges a breach of his severance agreement because of false statements he says school officials made during the ongoing NCAA investigation.


10:55 a.m.

Gus Malzahn insists Auburn really does have a quarterback battle.

Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham seems to be the odds-on favorite to win the job over returning starter Sean White.

The coach said Thursday at Southeastern Conference media days that Auburn players "know it's a legitimate competition." But the Tigers have struggled in the passing game the past two seasons, and White has battled injury problems.

Auburn ranked last in the Southeastern Conference and 112th nationally in passing offense last season. Malzahn acknowledged quarterback depth has been the Tigers' Achilles heel the past two years.

Auburn played three quarterbacks in the opening loss to Clemson last season. Malzahn promises he and new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will have that battle settled quicker this time.


9:35 a.m.

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said finding a young star at quarterback has helped push the Gamecocks' rebuilding plan forward.

Sophomore Jake Bentley started the final seven games of his freshman season in 2016, throwing for 1,420 yards while completing 65.8 percent of his passes. Even more importantly, South Carolina won four of his seven starts.

Muschamp said on Thursday at Southeastern Conference media days that there was "no question" Bentley's development has been a boost for recruiting because players know "you're going to win games."

South Carolina finished with a 6-7 record last season, including a 3-5 mark in the SEC.


12:55 a.m.

Mississippi, Auburn and South Carolina will be the final three teams at SEC media days on Thursday.

The Rebels figure to be the main attraction in Hoover — mostly because of off-the-field issues. The Rebels are in the midst of an NCAA investigation that's lasted nearly five years, and now there are 21 alleged violations that include academic, booster and recruiting misconduct.

Adding to the off-the-field misery, former Mississippi coach Houston Nutt filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against the university and its athletics foundation, alleging a breach of his severance agreement because of false statements he says school officials made during the ongoing NCAA investigation.


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