Hugh Freeze remains 'right in the middle' of Tennessee's OC search according to Chris Low
If you read the tea leaves on Rocky Top, Tennessee has to decide whether the program wants Hugh Freeze to help the Volunteers win games in 2019 or coach against him. Not only does Jeremy Pruitt have to make that decision, but it also appears he needs to make it relatively quickly.
That’s the sentiment ESPN college football writer and Tennessee alum Chris Low suggested during his latest Sunday radio show “The Nation,” which is broadcast by WNML Radio out of Knoxville and a followup tweet on Monday.
The hottest topic of the latest show centered around Tennessee’s replacement for Tyson Helton, who left Rocky Top to become the new head coach of Western Kentucky. Tennessee struggled for much of the season on offense under Helton and now Pruitt has an opportunity to potentially upgrade at the program’s offensive coordinator position.
Here’s what Low had to say when asked about the latest regarding the OC search on Rocky Top.
“I’m where I have been on this whole coach search for Tennessee — I think Hugh Freeze is right there in the middle of it. I think he has been right in the middle of it,” Low said on the air. “He’s talked to Jeremy (Pruitt), Jeremy has talked to a few people. I think he’s talked to Chip Lindsey, the Auburn offensive coordinator and I know he’s had some conversations with some other people.
“One of the things that Phillip Fulmer told Jeremy Pruitt — talk to several people and figure out who is the best fit for him, who is the best fit, who can help Tennessee offensively get back to where they want to get and I think right on through, Hugh Freeze has been right at the top of the list. I think Jeremy is trying to check all the boxes.”
Low then gave a timeline for a potential hire in Knoxville, which he believes could come early in the week.
“I would expect by (Monday), Tuesday at the latest that (Pruitt) is going to have an offensive coordinator on board,” Low said. “Everyone wants to know if that’s Hugh Freeze, is he the leader? I don’t want to speak for Jeremy Pruitt but as I’ve said, and I’ve tried to be consistent with all this, I think Hugh Freeze has been in the forefront of this search and is somebody that could help Tennessee a lot. I really do.”
Following the Sunday show, Low offered up some additional commentary on Monday morning. In a tweet, Low suggested that if Tennessee doesn’t pull the trigger on Freeze, they may have to face him next season as Nick Saban has tried to hire the former Ole Miss coach last offseason.
It’s a tough spot for Pruitt to be in if he planned on taking his time this month with this hire. A decision may have to be made in the coming hours before another SEC team has an opening that could attract Freeze into delaying a decision.
It should be noted that the SEC may attempt to block Freeze from working in the league after his scandalous ending to his tenure in Oxford. That’s why Freeze isn’t already on Saban’s staff in Tuscaloosa and it remains unclear how the league office would feel about the former Rebel coach jumping back into the league at this time.
As expected, Hugh Freeze is drawing serious OC interest, and not just in SEC, after his one-year “exile.” Freeze is in the thick of @Vol_Football’s search, but Vols are hardly Freeze’s only suitors. Remember Saban tried to hire Freeze last year and may lose Locksley to Maryland.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) December 3, 2018