Hugh Freeze is returning to the SEC, as word broke on Monday that the former Ole Miss head coach and current Liberty head coach was headed down to Auburn after the school was unable to poach Lane Kiffin from Ole Miss.
Auburn is finalizing a deal to hire Liberty coach Hugh Freeze, sources tell @SINow.
Freeze would return to the SEC, where in 2017 Ole Miss fired him amid NCAA and personal scandal. In 12 years as a college head coach, he’s had one losing season.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) November 28, 2022
BREAKING: Liberty coach Hugh Freeze is coming back to the SEC, per source. Auburn is hiring him as its new head coach. @RossDellenger first reported the move.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 28, 2022
It doesn’t come as a significant surprise, as Freeze had been rumored as a candidate at Auburn for months, but considering how his tenure ended in Oxford, with him being resigning in disgrace after committing various NCAA infractions as well as calling escorts on his university issued phone, it certainly didn’t take long for him to return to one of college football’s top jobs. Freeze has, as many will be quick to point out, won everywhere he’s been, as evidenced by an 83-43 career record, but while programs have been quick to succeed under Freeze, maintaining the level of winning Auburn expects has not been something he’s done particularly well.
Ole Miss peaked in his third and fourth seasons, going a combined 19-7 and reaching a high of third in the AP Poll in both seasons, but the next year he went 5-7 (helping lead to his ouster). At Liberty he quickly got them to a 10-1 year in 2020 with an NFL prospect at the helm in Malik Willis, but has stumbled to 8-5 and 8-4 seasons since, most recently suffering losses to UConn and New Mexico State in succession to end his tenure with the Flames.
It’s not a surprise that Auburn would overlook the off-field scandals and NCAA violations committed at Ole Miss to hire a splashy name, that’s how college football works, but even accepting that as the way the world works, there’s still an issue with this hire in Freeze not a coach with such a great track record that you can feel confident he’ll get Auburn to the highs they want to reach for anything approaching a sustained period of time.