SEC Football: Auburn University excusing and muzzling Hugh Freeze


No one should be surprised by Auburn’s hiring of Hugh Freeze. The Auburn football program and Freeze are a perfect fit, even if the fit includes some wrong reasons.

Short of being a heinous criminal, two wins over Nick Saban qualify as a perfect fit for Auburn. NCAA violations are not disqualifying. Neither are personal failings, as long as they have been prayed into absolution. Other troubling behavior is no problem, as long it is alleged and can be denied.

All an Auburn coach has to win. In that way, the Auburn program is not alone.

More specifically, an Auburn coach has to beat Alabama more times than not. And he has to be constantly building a program that can compete with Alabama every season. It matters not, that no Auburn coach has ever been able to sustain such results. Tommy Tuberville was 7-3 against Alabama but had to find another team after getting beat 36-0 by Nick Saban’s 2008 squad. Suddenly it was easy for Auburn decision-makers to understand going forward, Tuberville’s results against Saban would be dismal.

Gene Chizik won a National Championship with Auburn in 2010, but his short Auburn tenure included a 1-3 record against the Crimson Tide. Gus Malzahn had some magical wins against Alabama, but his overall, head coaching record against Saban was 3-5. Auburn decided to pay Gus $20M-plus to let someone else rack up losses against the Tide.

‘The Reverend’  Hugh Freeze returns to SEC Football

Now, ‘The Reverend’ cometh to Auburn, arriving under a cloud of dissension but insulated by an Auburn belief he will do better than the other guys.

And maybe Hugh Freeze will. The standard estimation of Hugh Freeze, as a football coach, is that he is a very good one. A depth of offensive football knowledge is attributed to him. Some call him an actual Quarterback Whisperer.

My take is Hugh Freeze is a better version of Gus Malzahn and not much more. As a head coach, Malzahn has won 66% of his games. In Freeze’s Power Five stint at Ole Miss, he won 60.9%.

Putting Freeze’s record at Ole Miss in perspective, he did it while cheating. The NCAA concluded Ole Miss, under Freeze, committed 15, Level-1 violations. Now that pay-for-play has become legal, Freeze can’t gain an edge by cheating.

Maybe, as some say, Hugh Freeze is “one of the best football coaches in the country.” He’ll get a chance to prove it at Auburn. Maybe, not unlike Bruce Pearl, ‘just win’ cleanses all imperfections. But Auburn has a much more difficult task with Freeze than it had with Pearl. The holier-than-thou Freeze and Ole Miss downplayed the punishment they knew was coming from the NCAA. It required Freeze to lie to players, recruits, and their families. All of which,  as Yahoo Sports reported, Hugh Freeze did without remorse. As a result, his successor, Matt Luke had no chance to win in Oxford.

So the Auburn family ends up with maybe a great coach. It also gets a man, that more than a few who know him say, cannot be trusted.

Knowing it has taken a hit to its reputation, Auburn has tried to dampen what may come next. In an unprecedented move, reported by Pat Forde of, Auburn has required Freeze to go into social media hiding.

"Multiple sources say Freeze has agreed to relinquish control of his social media accounts when he becomes the Auburn coach. The background check on Freeze was extensive, and the school hired a P.R. consultant to handle the expected blowback in bringing him aboard."

What a week to be a Crimson Tide fan. dark. Next

Anyone detecting in the words above an underlying belief that Auburn and Hugh Freeze deserve each other – would be correct. For a better source, consult Houston Nutt.