Has there been a day in 2017 with more eccentric sports headlines that Thursday?
First, O.J. Simpson was granted parole nine years into a sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery, as America focused intently on his legal proceedings once again. Hours later, Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigned after school officials discovered he phone calls to a Tampa escort service, in what must be the wackiest coaching departure of the year.
We’ll tell you all about O.J., Freeze and much more, right here in The Cheat Sheet.
O.J. to be freed after nationally televised parole hearing
Orenthal James Simpson was granted parole Thursday after a hearing in front of four Nevada parole commissioners, who determined he posed limited threat to the public nine years after being convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping.
Here was the moment when the board unanimously gave Simpson his freedom:
Watch the moment OJ Simpson is granted parole after 9 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping pic.twitter.com/SHiIwzLt3K
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) July 20, 2017
Simpson’s parole was considered a likely—or at least highly plausible—outcome given his age, his clean disciplinary record in prison and his release plans. He’ll be freed on Oct. 1, though he’ll still have to submit to conditions of his parole, including a limit on his alcohol consumption.
There was certainly something bizarre about America gathering around its televisions to watch Simpson’s legal proceedings, as it were 1995 all over again. And Simpson, appearing via satellite from Lovelock Correctional Center, kindly gave the masses something to gossip about, with a rambly, almost haughty description of his crime that had some viewers thinking he had doomed himself.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 20, 2017
This is the most incredible thing I've seen since the Patriots Super Bowl rally. I'm stunned. This kind of stupid should be illegal.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) July 20, 2017
He needed a 4-0 vote. No way this will be unanimous. It's going to overtime and OJ's gonna lose bad.
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) July 20, 2017
I'll give OJ credit: He didn't go all squishy-soft for parole board. He was the same evil, narcissistic piece of shit he was before prison
— Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) July 20, 2017
yeah OJ's going back to jail. "I could easily stay in Nevada but I don't think you guys want me here." Then a long laugh. what on earth
— Clinton Yates (@clintonyates) July 20, 2017
Meanwhile, one of the parole commissioners drew attention for a Kansas City Chiefs tie that somehow seemed in poor taste.
Strangest part of OJ parole hearing? No one in and around parole board thought a Chiefs tie was inappropriate. pic.twitter.com/IQF4vNzWdI
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 20, 2017
Anyway, the bottom line is that O.J. is two-plus months from being a free man. And you know what this all means…
The juice is loose. Nope, not gonna do it.
Hugh Freeze forced to resign from Ole Miss after being caught calling escort
When news broke that University of Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze was on the verge of being pushed out, every college football fan immediately assumed recruiting violations, stemming from an ongoing NCAA investigation. The reality, in fact, was much wilder.
As it turns out, Freeze was forced to resign from Ole Miss due to a pattern of phone calls sent from his university phone to a number associated with an escort service. ESPN reports that the calls dated back to 2012, shortly after he was hired in Oxford. Freeze, a married man who likes to tweet Bible verses, was fond of soliciting prostitutes.
As if this story weren’t already bizarre enough, Freeze seems to have been brought down by his predecessor, Houston Nutt. Ole Miss reportedly first discovered a call to an escort service after Nutt’s attorneys requested Freeze’s cell phone records as part of Nutt’s lawsuit against the university. Nutt may or may not get damages from Ole Miss in his lawsuit, but he has already brought down the school’s football coach.
Me, reading all the biblical scriptures and worship messages on Hugh Freeze's Twitter feed pic.twitter.com/BwwW7jxK3G
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 21, 2017
Freeze went 39-25 over five seasons at Ole Miss, winning the Sugar Bowl in 2015 before slipping to 5-7 last season. Offensive coordinator Matt Luke will take over the program on an interim basis.
Freeze, meanwhile, will presumably lay low for a little while, then embark on a redemption tour in which he talks about God and holds his wife’s hand a lot. Before you know it, he’ll be back coaching. But no matter what Freeze does from here, he’ll be eternally remembered as the coach who got fired for hiring an escort using a school-issued phone—and for upstaging O.J.
hey, so, OJ Simpson getting released from prison was not the weirdest news today
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) July 21, 2017
– In other college football news, alarmist coaches Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are worried players will skip their senior years of high school the way they skip their college bowl games.
– Americans are off to a strong start at The Open Championship.
– The Carolina Panthers cut offensive lineman Michael Oher. You could say he was…
blindsided disappointed to lose his job.
– Here’s a cool goal, from the Gold Cup:
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) July 21, 2017
– Online voters have named a new Swedish train “Trainy McTrainface,” because what else would they name it?
– The new season of Arrested Development will apparently feature a murder mystery.
– R.I.P. to Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington, who died Thursday after reportedly hanging himself.
One last moment of procrastination
In honor of Bennington, another Linkin Park classic.