Hugh Freeze says he was 'very close' to becoming SEC coordinator, eager to prove himself again as head coach
After a terrible fall from grace, Hugh Freeze is eager to redeem himself as he embarks upon his first season as head coach of Liberty.
The former Ole Miss coach has been out of coaching for two seasons, but each offseason has been rumored to be involved in coordinator searches all over the SEC. His name has been connected with OC searches at Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Missouri in recent offseasons and he even assisted Kirby Smart’s Georgia staff at one point following his exile from Oxford.
While he wasn’t hired on at any of the schools in the nation’s best conference, Freeze did land Liberty’s head coaching position this offseason. During a Friday appearance on “The Paul Finebaum” radio show, the former Ole Miss coach was asked just how close he was to returning to the SEC as a coordinator this offseason.
“Very close and I was obviously thankful for the opportunities that presented themselves. I was fully content and happy to go down that path,” Freeze responded on the show. “I have great respect for the coaches I talked with in that time span, but you get to this point in my life and then the head coach opportunity comes along at Liberty and you want to prove, particularly after some of the things that I’ve been through, you want to prove you still are a head coach that upset Alabama twice and beat some big teams like LSU, Texas and A&M.
“And you want to prove that and I thought the quickest way to do that, and the better fit for me, my wife, Jill, and our three kids, was to jump back in and be a head coach. I wasn’t sure that would be an opportunity, but I’m thankful the admin here at Liberty gave me that chance.”
Finebaum asked several additional questions of Freeze but the one question that’s likely going to interest SEC fans the most was the coach’s response when asked what he had learned during his time away from the game.
“Humility – would be No. 1 on the list,” Freeze answered. “Don’t take anything for granted and obviously the issues that went on at Ole Miss, we certainly learned from that and how you run a program whether it be in compliance or certainly in my personal life. That’s something Jill and I walked through several years ago. It going public was very difficult for us but thankfully, it’s something way in our past and we’ve weathered that storm we’ve become better because of it. I think humility and just living a life, being grateful every day for the opportunity to coach or to be a person that has a chance to impact and influence.”
If Freeze turns Liberty into a winner, the program was just elevated to FBS status, there’s no doubt the job he did at Ole Miss will be enough to win over any fan base that’s searching for a new head coach. At this point, Freeze’s biggest challenge appears to be winning over the support of a school’s administration but if he finds a way to redeem himself off the field while delivering results for Liberty, he’s likely to earn a second chance from a program desperate for success on the football field.