Hugh Freeze was close to becoming Alabama’s co-OC, but SEC commissioner Greg Sankey encouraged Nick Saban and the Tide not to hire him, according to a report by AL.com’s John Talty and Matt Zenitz.
The report states that Alabama was among a handful of SEC programs — LSU and Missouri also among them — that contacted Freeze about on-field coaching roles this off-season, but none of them ever came to fruition. It appears that Sankey’s discouragement was the biggest factor.
Per the report, Sankey told Alabama that hiring Freeze would be a bad look for the conference as a whole while his previous program, Ole Miss, suffered from NCAA penalties. The conference wants Freeze to go dark for a while and stay out of the spotlight. That’s not bad advice, and it’s unlikely he’ll be hired by another SEC program for a bit.
A year-old SEC bylaw also gives the commissioner some additional oversight into the university’s hiring practices. Per the report, according to bylaw 18.104.22.168, a school must consult directly with the commissioner before offering a job to a coach “who has engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted, or may result, in a Level I, Level II or major infraction.”
Instead of hiring Freeze, Alabama hired Penn State’s Josh Gattis as its co-OC and WRs coach. Gattis’ reputation is a strong one, and poaching him from Penn State’s staff was a big rebound.
Be sure and check out AL.com’s in-depth report on Hugh Freeze and Alabama.