What Ole Miss’ updated list of self-imposed sanctions means for recruiting

Around 2013, Ole Miss transitioned from a middling recruiter to one of the best teams in the country at adding top talent, and that stoked suspicion that the Rebels’ rise might be too good to be true. Current head coach Hugh Freeze has challenged that narrative in the past.

Wednesday, Ole Miss announced receipt of an amended Notice of Allegations from the NCAA concerning its recruiting and illegal benefits scandal. With it, the Rebels announced a self-imposed bowl ban of a year.

This is in addition to the self-imposed scholarship sanctions the Rebels announced in May of 2016.

The program will dock itself 10 football scholarships over the next three seasons (two in 2016, and four each in 2017 and 2018), plus one it’s counting from the 2015 season. It also self-imposes a $159,352 fine, and “involved staff” will undergo “additional rules education” on NCAA policy.

Ole Miss also took some lighter self-imposed penalties in the form of slight reductions in official visits, recruiting visits, and evaluation days in 2016.

Uncertainty hurt Ole Miss as much as the sanctions.

Ole Miss’ 2017 class was terrible by SEC standards, consisting of 23 signees, just three of whom were rated four-stars. Opposing schools seized on the opportunity to negatively recruit against Ole Miss, citing the NCAA’s still-to-come ruling. It worked.

Without the NCAA cloud of doubt hanging over its head, the Rebels would have been much stronger contenders for in-state players like running back Cam Akers (signed with Florida State) and linebacker Willie Gay (Mississippi State), as well as out-of-state players with connections to the school like tackle Walker Little (Stanford) and linebacker Jacob Phillips (LSU).

Now, at least the Rebels have some level of certainty. Schools can use the case to negatively recruit against Ole Miss, but Ole Miss now has the ammo to refute specious claims.

It’s not over yet, though.

The NCAA could still impose more penalties against Ole Miss.

As SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey reported Thursday morning, the worst possibility for Ole Miss is still in play.

If the [NCAA’s Committee on Infractions] agrees with the case against Ole Miss, a two-year bowl ban is a real possibility. The Rebels self-imposed a one-year ban on Wednesday, but the difference of a season is massive; a two-year ban would allow for current scholarship players to transfer without penalty.

Ole Miss would then have to survive being eaten alive by defections in addition to any potential scholarship restrictions the COI hands out.

Rival schools are not wasting time. When contacted by SB Nation Wednesday evening, coaches on two different SEC staffs confirmed their schools will evaluate the Rebels’ roster for potential talent, in case a two-year ban allowed transfers to play immediately.

This is a nightmare scenario for elite…