Alabama Football: Auburn football team and not Hugh Freeze needing redemption

Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports /

Who would have thought, when Auburn hired Hugh Freeze almost a year ago that Saturday’s Iron Bowl would have its current storyline? Clearly Auburn coveted Freeze because he beat not just Alabama Football, but Nick Saban back-to-back with Ole Miss. The second of those Ole Miss wins came in 2015 in Tuscaloosa. Such a feat will always move a coach to the top of an Auburn hiring line.

Auburn paid a price in hiring Freeze, and by most standards of acceptable behavior, the baggage Freeze brought to Auburn carried a heavy toll. It is widely believed Nick Saban wanted to add Freeze to the Alabama staff once or twice. Some say, the SEC’s Greg Sankey so strongly dissented that Saban chose not to add Freeze to his long line of ‘redemptees.’

It has been well reported what Hugh Freeze did as the Ole Miss head coach, both by his own admission and by an NCAA investigation. Other shadowy episodes in Freeze’s life go back to his high school coaching career in Memphis and forward to his time as head coach at Liberty.

For whatever Hugh Freeze needed to atone, Auburn chose to believe he was redeemed before he joined the ‘Auburn Family.’ Alabama football fans (and others) may remain skeptical, but judging Hugh Freeze (the man) should be left to those who know him.

We can judge his coaching ability and given Nick Saban’s respect for Freeze’s coaching skills, he can be categorized as a good to very good coach. In recent days, Freeze has taken heat, including from Auburn fans, for the Tigers’ embarrassing loss to New Mexico State. A counter opinion is the Auburn football program, having been mismanaged for so many years, gave Freeze little to work with this season. Getting to seven wins was always the ceiling for the 2023 Auburn team and a bowl win would provide it.

Alabama Football vs. Redemption

The Auburn Tigers have a powerful advantage in motivation. After the New Mexico State debacle, those in most need of redemption are Auburn’s players. Some Auburn fans, who suffered through the New Mexico State loss in Jordan-Hare, claim more than a few Auburn players quit before the game ended.

Players in lesser programs, conditioned to losing, do sometimes give up in games. That should never happen on an SEC team. And it should absolutely never happen to an Auburn program, not bereft of historical success.

Saturday afternoon in Jordan-Hare will be a character test for Auburn. Alabama Football, in pursuit of bigger goals, should be prepared for any challenge. Hugh Freeze and his staff will certainly be ready for battle. Hugh Freeze no longer needs to seek redemption, but his Auburn football team does. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

dark. Next. What losing Iron Bowl would mean to Auburn

A team no one picks to win can be a dangerous opponent. Auburn will need more than that.