Videos by OutKick
When Hugh Freeze takes the stage in Nashville next week to speak with over a thousand reporters, nerves shouldn’t be a problem. The former Ole Miss head coach is back in his element, looking to make a splash for the Auburn Tigers, who took a chance on Freeze this past November.
Folks on the plains have to be excited about where the program stands right now, compared to last year’s media day in Atlanta. The Tigers had Bryan Harsin walk into the College Football Hall of Fame to answer questions about the 2022 season, all the while still dealing with the fallout from the Auburn administration trying to force an exit.
It’s safe to assume AD John Cohen and boosters in Auburn are happy with the job Freeze has done thus far. Besides doing his best to make every fundraiser, golf outing or alumni function within five hours of Auburn, Hugh’s also made a few splashes on the recruiting trail.
Auburn’s hiring of Freeze has paid off in terms of winning over campus officials. According to SEC Network host Paul Finebaum, he’s handled his first six-months in the best possible way.
“It happened flawlessly, all the hue and cry about what he did or didn’t do or why he got fired, it was over in five seconds,” Finebaum recently said. “He handled his introduction brilliantly, I’ve seen Hugh a couple of times at events and he’s just very cool, you know Hugh very well. And I give him an A-plus-plus for the way he’s handled it, and not only that, the Auburn fans are just enthusiastic.”
Auburn Fans Are All-In On Hugh Freeze, Tigers Offense
One thing’s for sure, Auburn fans have bought into Freeze. The excitement level should not surprise folks, given all that happened under Bryan Harsin. After everything Tiger fans went through in 2022, they still bought every season ticket for 2023.
Whether it be the new offensive system or the way Hugh Freeze has tried to immerse himself into the Auburn community, it’s paying off. While the past will be brought up, Freeze has moved on. But, he’s still picking up the pieces and trying to prove to folks that he’s a better man.
In the end, if the head coach stays away from the drama and puts out an exciting brand of football, along with some wins, the fans will give you a few years. The way Hugh Freeze bought into the job, knowing who he’d be going up against on the recruiting trail (Nick Saban), while trying to rebuild a program, has certainly been a sticking point, according to Paul Finebaum.
“They are on board and it has as much to do with the person he replaced, Bryan Harsin, no debating here. He’s a good football coach, he was a terrible fit, not his fault he took the job,” Finebaum noted about Freeze. “But he neutered any level of enthusiasm, Freeze has said, ‘You know what? I know this league. I’m not afraid of Big Bad Nick Saban. I’ve already beaten him twice. I can handle these guys.’”
He’s right. Auburn fans know the quarterback situation looks a little murky at the moment, while they need to overhaul a few positions. But this was about turning the Auburn culture around, then worrying about the wins that would follow. Hugh Freeze was the perfect guy to sell the Auburn program, while still figuring out his place in the new SEC.
He was also the right coach from an offensive standpoint to inject life into the fan base. A lot has changed since his time at Ole Miss, though Freeze is not taking his return to the SEC for granted.
I know Auburn folks are ready to win again, but that will come in due-time. Next week is all about selling the program and the changes being made to make it a powerhouse once again. At the end of the day, the Tigers have the right guy in charge, which is all the matters at the moment
But then again, we’re only six months into the Freeze era at Auburn. Time will tell how this all turns out, but Hugh is ready to reintroduce himself to the SEC in Nashville.