Florida columnist: Gators likely didn't consider Hugh Freeze due to character issues
Remember when “Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to the Gators” was a popular rumor back when Florida was looking to unload former coach Will Muschamp?
That was so 2014.
As it turns out, the Gators hired Jim McElwain and Hugh Freeze stayed at Ole Miss with a nice contract extension.
It was a win for both teams in 2015, as McElwain led Florida to an SEC East title and Freeze guided the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory.
But Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi recently opened that can of worms again in 2016 to make a point.
He pointed to Laremy Tunsil’s NFL Draft saga as an example of the chief reason that Florida decided not to act on pursuing Freeze.
In fact, he says Tunsil’s murky situation with the NCAA is “essentially why the Florida Gators never considered hiring Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze.”
After Florida hired McElwain, UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley told me that some potential coaching candidates had been eliminated because of character issues. Although Foley never mentioned Freeze by name, it’s quite clear now why the Ole Miss coach was never a candidate to coach the Gators.
We find that interesting.
It is true that Tunsil missed seven games in the 2015 season due to a sticky situation with the NCAA regarding alleged loaner cars and interest-free loans, but one could argue that the transgressions of one player are not an accurate reflection of the character of a head coach.
It seems easy to say that the Gators never considered Freeze because they ultimately didn’t hire him.
They have no obligation to tip their hand, nor would it be good press to admit that they may have been privately turned down by the Rebels coach.
But it is awfully odd that it was such a prevalent rumor which ended in a contract extension if the Gators “never considered” it, as Bianchi claims.
At any rate, sometimes these things work out for the best.
Ole Miss is mostly happy with Freeze. Florida is mostly happy with McElwain. Win-win.