Alabama Football: Hugh Freeze repents and Saban does not relent

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

How much impact is Alabama football having on the timing of the Hugh Freeze revival tour? When asked about Freeze at a Senior Bowl practice, Nick Saban had little to say.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban never stops searching for future Alabama football staff members. When Nick decides a change is needed or a staff member chooses to go elsewhere, Saban already has a list of potential replacements. Hugh Freeze is on Nick’s list. Saban believes Freeze has significant offensive skills.

Most schools considering a Freeze hire for the 2018 season will decide the move is too risky. Freeze carries considerable baggage, personal and professional. Nick Saban has a history of either overlooking or seeking to rehab a coach’s mistakes. Nick certainly did so with Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin. For both, the results were mixed.

Former assistant Bo Davis had to leave the Alabama football staff because he made a foolish NCAA mistake and reputedly lied to Saban about it. If message board rumors were correct, Lane Kiffin and former Tide assistant, Lance Thompson were not choirboys before their exits from Tuscaloosa.

Hugh Freeze, on the other hand, portrayed himself in Oxford, MS as having more piety than the most devout choirboy. ‘Reverend’ Freeze, as some opposing coaches referred to Hugh, turned out to be a sanctimonious hypocrite.

Freeze finally apologizes publicly

On Wednesday, speaking at Liberty University, Freeze made public an admission of guilt and a desire for repentance. David Ching of Fortune magazine reported on Hugh’s comments,

"what I thought was a private sin that I had struggled with, confessed to my wife, to two of my friends in 2016, what I thought was private and I was dealing with and was in my rear-view mirror and in the past … became public knowledge in July 2017, (and) my world crumbled…Today’s really the first day I can tell the faith family, I am sorry, please forgive me."

A man is entitled to forgiveness sought through sincere contrition. But forgiveness does not cleanse a professional mistake.

Freeze and NCAA punishment

Freeze left Ole Miss in a mess but the NCAA did not conclude he was the architect of the school’s ‘lack of institutional control.’ Freeze received little more than an NCAA slap on the wrist after the four-year investigation. He was not given a ‘show-cause’ penalty on future employment as a football coach. If hired as a head coach, Freeze would be suspended for two games. He suffered no other NCAA penalties.

Nick Saban may not be willing hire Freeze as an on-field assistant. In that capacity, sitting down with recruit’s parents, Freeze could encounter some tough questions about his character. Hiring Freeze as an off-field offensive analyst brings Hugh’s offensive acumen to the Tide while keeping him out of recruit living rooms.

Nick Saban clearly admires Freeze’s coaching knowledge. Nick is not willing to discuss much regarding Alabama football staff opportunities for Freeze. Asked to comment at a Senior Bowl practice, Nick said,

"I don’t really have a comment on that right now. I think Hugh Freeze is a really good coach, so we’ll keep evaluating and trying to make our staff as strong as we can make it."

Nick Saban is never going to let a reporter elicit premature disclosure. If he does Hire Freeze, we suspect it will be after February 7th and the end of the 2018 recruiting cycle.

Next: A lesson in the Hugh Freeze - Ole Miss Debacle

Some conspiracy-inclined college football fans will suggest Freeze’s public admission of guilt was a script written by Nick Saban. We make no such claim even though the idea does mesh with Saban’s ‘Machiavellian’ reputation.