Hugh Freeze defends Ole Miss football program amid NCAA allegations

It's safe to say that Friday wasn't a great day to be an Ole Miss Rebels fan. The school released the findings of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations against the Rebels' athletic department, which included 28 total violations, including 13 against the Rebels' football program.

Even more concerning was that after Ole Miss had previously intimated that most of the alleged violations against the football program had come under former coach Houston Nutt's watch, we found out that the vast majority (nine) came while Hugh Freeze was the head coach.

Because of it Freeze is under quite a bit of fire, a fire which could continue to heat up as the SEC's annual meetings take place this week in Destin, Florida.

More from FoxSports

However despite the microscope being pointed directly at his program, Freeze defended himself on Monday night to "Gridiron Now" writer Tony Barnhart, including this compelling passage:

"There is a difference between making mistakes and cheating," Freeze said. "Did we make mistakes? Yes, we did, and we've taken action. We're not perfect.

"But I'm not going to cheat. I'm not. I'll lose but I'm not going to cheat."

He expressed similar comments to ESPN, even adding that he would immediately fire any coach caught cheating.

"The first thing I would say is that I own it. That's part of it when you're the head coach. You take the good with the bad," Freeze said. "But there's a big difference between making mistakes in recruiting and going out there with the intent to cheat. I don't have any information that anybody on my staff has been involved in any illegal payments to players or offering any inducements to players, and if I did have that information, I would fire them."

Those are strong words from Freeze, and in defense of both the coach and the school, Ole Miss has been proactive in helping the NCAA during this current investigation. The school has even gone so far as to self-impose sanctions against the football program, including scholarship removals and taking two coaches off the recruiting trail.

At the same time, until this whole case is resolved by the NCAA, the heat will continue to be squarely on Freeze and Ole Miss football.

It's heat which could be ramped up this week in Destin.