Everything about Robert Nkemdiche’s last few days is peculiar, which fits right in line with Ole Miss football’s 2015 season.
Nkemdiche was charged with possession of marijuana following a 15-foot fall from an Atlanta hotel window. Rumors of Nkemdiche using synthetic marijuana circulated, thanks primarily to Fox Sports’ Clay Travis — rumors Nkemdiche summarily denied in a statement emailed to media Tuesday.
The preseason All-America defensive lineman’s status for Ole Miss’ Sugar Bowl showdown with Oklahoma State is up in the air, and somehow, this arguably isn’t the strangest development head coach Hugh Freeze and his squad’s faced in the last six months.
A June incident involving Laremy Tunsil cost the supremely talented offensive lineman seven games, and attracted the attention of NCAA investigators. Tunsil was arrested in a domestic dispute with his stepfather, which Freeze said in a statement stemmed from the lineman defending his mother. Tunsil’s stepfather later accused Tunsil of meeting with agents the night of the incident, an NCAA violation.
Just weeks after Tunsil returned, linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (older brother of the aforementioned Robert Nkemdiche) went missing from a team meeting on a Sunday, only to be admitted to an intensive care unit the next day. The Rebels’ leading tackler at the time of his disappearance, Denzel Nkemdiche missed the final two games against LSU and Mississippi State.
Ole Miss’ oddities found their way onto the field, first with the tipped-pass fiesta that was the Rebels’ upset of Alabama in September. The win in Tuscaloosa was Ole Miss’ first in almost three decades, and marked the program’s first back-to-back victories over the Crimson Tide ever.
That win would have sealed the Rebels’ place in the SEC Championship Game, were it not for an appropriately bizarre conclusion to their loss last month vs. Arkansas.
A fourth-down lateral. Bret Bielema going for two in the first overtime, failing, and going for it a second time after a face-mask penalty. Had all that transpired in the game-action sequence of a movie, the viewing audience would scoff at the lack of realism.
Likewise, the off-field goings-on involving Tunsil and the Nkemdiche brothers feels more like a retelling of the 1993 film The Program than a genuine college football season.