Hugh Freeze, Dan Mullen speak on Confederate flag in Mississippi at SEC Media Days

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen share their thoughts on the Mississippi state flag.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

By Jason Parker

The Confederate flag has been an issue that has taken over the national conversation in recent weeks, sadly in part due to the shooting death of nine innocent African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Recently, the Palmetto State took down the flag from its State Capitol grounds.

The state of Mississippi still has that flag as a part of its state flag, not helping the reputation to some that the Magnolia State lives in the past. The head coaches of the two biggest football programs, Ole Miss’s Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, where recently asked their thoughts on whether it should be taken down. Their answers were completely different.

Mullen, a native of New Hampshire, tip-toed around the subject and stated it wasn’t a problem in Starkville:

“We’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse they have a Yankee as a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference,” he said Tuesday.

“It’s something that, on a national level, is getting an awful lot of attention right now. People are really looking into how we can make things better in the state of Mississippi. I hope, as a university, we’re out on the forefront trying to make things better with the type of school we have and the diversity we have in our school.”

Freeze, a Mississippi native who grew up in a town of just 8,000 people, answered the question head-on and perhaps shocked some fans with his support of the flag’s removal:

“In the late ’90s our university made a move to go away from the Confederate flag, and being a Mississippian, I have a great appreciation for the Mississippi people and the pride we have in the heritage and all those things. Unfortunately, that symbol has been hijacked by some groups that mean ill-will towards some people.

“While I’m not a political figure, I strongly believe it is time we move in a different direction and change the flag. Hopefully that’ll happen.”

The issue is not going to go away for a while, as both sides of the subject are passionate in their beliefs. I would just ask one question to those who still fly the “stars and bars”: If you say you love America and are proud to be an American, why do you still support a flag that represented a group that hated America so much that it left?

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