Is it finally time for Liberty’s Hugh Freeze to return to the SEC? That question has been asked for the past few years. It now has a chance to be answered in the coming month as Hugh Freeze to Auburn rumors gain steam.
And for everything he has done in the past, maybe it’s time to let him back in.
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After defeating Arkansas this past weekend, his résumé continues to strengthen since he was ousted at Ole Miss in 2016.
The media has written the story numerous times about what transpired during his time in Oxford. But the redemption story at Liberty is still being finished.
Will 2022 be the year a Power-5 school decides to swallow its pride and hire Freeze? He could surely turn a program around, which he has now done at Liberty, after doing it at Ole Miss.
Power-5 Athletic Director Speaks About Hugh Freeze
I spoke with one Power-5 athletic director about hiring coaches with public ‘baggage’, while others go through the vetting process. Sometimes it comes down to taking a chance.
“We all have this mindset where we have to decide how much of a chance do we want to take on a coach that has some baggage,” the AD said. “But, if the public knew some of the things we find our from search firms during our vetting processes of potential hires, they might think differently of Freeze or any other coach with a public past.”
It’s usually around the beginning of December when coaches have their agents or managers fluff up their names in certain college football circles. Whether that’s setting up a call with a school they have no intentions of leaving for or looking for leverage when it comes to an extension at their current employer.
As this athletic director told me, some coaches might have their dirty laundry already in the public space. Or the search firm hired to vet candidates will uncover it during the process.
“There’s a reason why some coaches might be mentioned at first or it gets out. Then, they magically stay at their school after some discussions, hoping an extension comes,” the AD added. “It’s not always about getting extensions or more money at their current job. Sometimes we find things out that we don’t want to deal with. It happens all the time; some of this stuff would shock the general public.”
Hugh Freeze Is Certainly Interested In The Auburn Job
After the win against Arkansas this past weekend, Hugh Freeze spoke with Brandon Marcello, bringing the Auburn job up during the conversation. You don’t hear many coaches talk about a school specifically, but Freeze has never been the guy to hold his tongue.
“I don’t know that Auburn wants me,” Freeze told Marcello. “I have no clue, [but] I know this: I have won everywhere I’ve been and my staff and kids have turned programs fast. It’s our culture that we instill. I know we do that and the proof is in the pudding.”
According to multiple sources, the Auburn job is of interest to Freeze. Whether good or bad, new Auburn AD John Cohen was at Mississippi State when Freeze was fired at rival Ole Miss. So he understands the situation and what transpired inside the football program, not only the outside problems.
The eight-year contract extension that Freeze signed with Liberty just a few weeks ago will not hold him back. According to folks with knowledge, the buyout figure will not to turn schools away if it gets to that point. His agent, Jimmy Sexton, could have him out of a deal by Friday if need be, so that shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Liberty Trusted Freeze And It’s Being Reciprocated
The trust that Liberty has given Freeze is reciprocated during times like these when other schools start to gauge his interest. Though he says nobody has piqued his interest yet, the discussion about potentially moving on, if offered, will be a family decision. He remains transparent with officials at Liberty, as they know this partnership is most likely headed for a separation in the future.
But Freeze is not going to jump at the first decent offer; he has the chance to be picky regarding his return to the main stage.
“They just call Jimmy (Sexton), and I say that really doesn’t fit me, Jill and the kids,” Freeze told Marcello. “But if one does, you have to sit down and have a conversation. That hasn’t happened yet.”
It’s not up to Hugh Freeze to change your opinion of him; he’s not trying to win over the world. There’s only so much he can do or say that will show how much he’s changed. There are some that are skeptical of giving him the keys to a big-time SEC program again.
Sometimes, you have to hand them over and just hope it turns out well.
What he has done over the last five years is win football games and develop quarterbacks.