It’s not as if Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth will look across the field and see himself standing there in Ole Miss gear this Saturday, but he acknowledged there are some similarities between himself and the Rebels’ leading man Hugh Freeze.
The two young coaches, both of whom grew up in Mississippi, have followed similar career paths, though Freeze took it a step further by jumping from a Sun Belt Conference job at Arkansas State, where he spent a year as head coach, to a Southeastern Conference job.
They got to their current stations by busting their rear ends.
“We weren’t given a silver spoon back when we were 25 because our dad or somebody was a coach,” Hudspeth said. “We got right into coaching. We worked up through the high school ranks, through the small college ranks and worked our way up.
“He was an assistant at the Division I level, I became an assistant at the Division I level, then we both became head coaches. We both have worked our way up to get to this point.”
Freeze spent more than a decade coaching in the high school ranks in Memphis, Tennessee, before joining the Ole Miss staff as an assistant. He went back to smaller schools where he took on larger positions before ascending to his current job.
Hudspeth did virtually the same thing, only he started out at the small college level before working his way up to Mississippi State, where he was the passing game coordinator before taking the job as the Cajuns head coach.
Heck, they both even prefer visors to hats. Just don’t expect Hudspeth to have himself recreated on the silver screen any time soon as Freeze did in “The Blind Side.”
“I don’t know if my wife would let me be in a movie with Sandra Bullock,” Hudspeth joked.
As game day inches nearer, the Cajuns still haven’t gotten any closer to determining whether senior wide receiver Jamal Robinson will be healthy enough to play against Ole Miss.
“He’s questionable right now,” Hudspeth said. “We’re hoping, but nothing yet.”
Hudspeth said the team will decide on Friday whether Robinson will travel with the team. He said everybody else will travel.
Junior college transfer Darzil Washington is cleared to begin taking classes at UL-Lafayette, and Hudspeth said “he will be a full-time student on Monday.”
Ole Miss will pay the Cajuns $925,000 for their trip to Oxford.
While that number may seem high — it nearly matches Hudspeth’s yearly salary — it’s not an uncommon number for power conference schools to pay for smaller schools to visit their campus.
It’s not even the highest amount an SBC team has received this season. Appalachian State was paid $1 million to travel play Michigan in the Big House, a game it lost 52-14. Idaho was paid $975,000 to travel to play Florida in Gainesville, a game that was canceled.
The Cajuns last opponent, Louisiana Tech, was paid $975,000 to play in Norman, Oklahoma, against Oklahoma.
A couple freshmen have made nice impacts two games into their career.
Despite both of them playing limited snaps, wide receiver Gabe Fuselier leads the team in catches (7), and defensive lineman Taboris Lee is tied for the team lead in tackles from a defensive lineman (6).
“(Lee) is going to be a really good player,” Hudspeth said. “He actually not only looks like (senior defensive lineman Christian) Ringo, he plays like Ringo did when he was a freshman. He’s only going to get better. He’s got a great get-off, great base, great motor. We’re really, really high on him.”