Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

Auburn has employed Hugh Freeze to change into the Tigers’ subsequent head soccer coach, sources near the method inform CBS Sports activities’ Dennis Dodd. Freeze, 53, final coached at Liberty having led the Flames to a 34-15 report since 2019.

Conversations between the events started weeks in the past and continued by means of the weekend after Auburn’s 49-27 loss to No. 7 Alabama within the Iron Bowl on Saturday. Freeze signed a memorandum of understanding with Auburn on Monday, per the Related Press.

The previous Ole Miss coach, who led the Rebels to a 10-3 season and second-place SEC West end in 2015, addressed the rumors about changing into the frontrunner to switch Bryan Harsin on the Plains following Liberty’s 49-14 upset loss to New Mexico State on Saturday. He was surprisingly upfront in his response. 

“I am not one to inform them [the players] one thing that is not true,” Freeze stated. “Is the job everyone seems to be speaking about one which I might have an curiosity in speaking with? Certain. That does not imply they’ve supplied me a job.”

The attraction to Freeze stems from his success at Ole Miss from 2012-16. He was 39-25 (together with vacated wins) throughout his tenure and beat each Alabama and Nick Saban in back-to-back seasons (2014-15). Freeze led the Rebels to a 10-win season, a berth within the Sugar Bowl and a No. 9 ultimate rating in 2015, a marketing campaign that didn’t embrace any of these 27 vacated wins. 

Freeze got here underneath hearth at Ole Miss previous to the 2017 season after it was found that he made inappropriate calls from his school-issued cell phone that had been linked to a telephone quantity for an escort service. Ole Miss accepted Freeze’s resignation on July 20, 2017, for what it known as a “sample of private misconduct.”

Moreover, an NCAA investigation uncovered an absence of institutional management and fostered an unconstrained tradition of booster involvement in soccer recruiting. That investigation uncovered 15 Degree I violations that included unauthorized money funds, use of cars, unauthorized lodging and unapproved meals that valued roughly $37,000.

His success with the Rebels turned stained on account of the 2 separate scandals. Ole Miss was penalized with a two-year bowl ban and a two-game convention suspension if he was employed by an SEC faculty previous to Nov. 30, 2018. Freeze was out of teaching for 2 years on account of the NCAA and private points.

With the window for that suspension closed and quite a few modifications coming to the faculty soccer panorama that can possible profit Freeze in recruiting on the Energy 5 degree (NIL rights, switch portal), his return to a significant program turned solely matter of time.

Freeze employed by Liberty in 2019 after his two-year hiatus. He has by no means completed with fewer than eight wins whereas main the Flames, who made the leap from FCS to an unbiased faculty within the FBS previous to the 2018 season. He has led Liberty to a few straight bowl video games, together with a 10-1 report and a No. 17 total rating in 2020. Freeze additionally developed quarterback Malik Wills, who coincidentally transferred from Auburn, right into a third-round draft choose within the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Confirmed developer of QB expertise

Auburn failed to assist Bo Nix attain his full potential, and now he has blossomed right into a Heisman Trophy contender for Oregon after transferring to the Geese for his senior season. The Auburn quarterback state of affairs in 2022 is a large number with TJ Finley and Robby Ashford each beginning video games with out offering a lot of a menace in downfield passing assault. Freeze can repair that. 

Chad Kelly threw for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2015 and Bo Wallace topped the three,000-yard mark in 2013 and 2014. Did these former Ole Miss stars flip into breakout sensations on the NFL degree? No, however that is not the purpose. They had been ultra-successful in faculty, and that is what issues most as new athletic director John Cohen efforts to show round this program. 

Be careful, Nick Saban

Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was fired after the 2020 season for his lack of ability to maintain success on the Plains. Nonetheless, he went 3-5 towards arch-rival Alabama, which is essentially the most wins over the Tide amongst energetic coaches. 

Freeze solved that riddle in back-to-back seasons, together with in 2015 when the Crimson Tide went on to win the Faculty Soccer Playoff. That may be a huge plus for an Auburn program that craves success on a nationwide scale no matter what is going on on in Tuscaloosa.

Saban, 71, is presumably nearing the top of his run as head coach of the Tide, although he’s locked in his contract by means of the 2030 season. Saban might be 79 years previous when that contract involves an finish, nevertheless. He has the identical power and acumen that he had 20 years in the past, however he might be getting up there in age if he does coach by means of the complete deal.

Freeze understands Auburn’s politics

Auburn is extensively identified to have too many cooks within the kitchen. Whether or not it is boosters, alumni, former gamers or directors, the sphere of affect is kind of massive and one thing that Cohen has to both rein in, or at least, arrange behind Freeze. They should let him run this system in the way in which that he sees match.

Which may look like a pipe dream based mostly on how Auburn has sometimes operated; bear in mind they tried to kind a coup to overthrow Harsin in February and tried to rent Bobby Petrino from Louisville in 2003 whereas Tommy Tuberville was nonetheless Tigers coach. The factor with Auburn is that whereas its strategies appear dysfunctional on the floor, it has really labored. The Tigers went undefeated in 2004, received a nationwide title in 2010, got here inside 13 seconds of repeating the feat in 2013 and received the SEC West in 2017 regardless of Alabama happening to win the nationwide title that season. The tactic has confirmed profitable, even when, in actuality, it has been despite these efforts quite than due to them. 

Will that work nowadays? In all probability not. There are too many transferring components which can be above and past something that boosters have needed to cope with prior to now. When Saban bought the job at Alabama in 2007, he took management of each side of this system. Freeze has to have the autonomy to do the identical. He has accomplished it earlier than in what was a reasonably important pressure-cooker at Ole Miss in its fierce rivalry with Mississippi State, which was led by Dan Mullen on the time. It stays to be seen if he can do it once more.

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