Hugh Freeze in position for early success at Auburn in modern college football landscape

Hugh Freeze didn’t return to college football’s biggest stage so much on Monday as big-picture college football came to Hugh Freeze.

After five years away from the Power Five, the all-time best to coach an in-person game from a hospital bed is back in the SEC at a familiar, resource-rich landing spot known for doing whatever it takes. it takes to win. This one happens to be named Auburn.

It could have been any number of schools that brought Freeze back to the era of NIL rights and the transfer portal.

Most of what led to NCAA rule violations during Freeze’s time at be miss are now easily circumvented either by regulations the NCAA has put in place or by practices they don’t want to continue.

Freeze’s Ole Miss program was put on probation in 2017 and received a two-year bowl ban In the process. At the time, the NCAA said Ole Miss “fosters an unconstrained culture of booster involvement.”

Well, that’ll win you a national championship these days.

While that doesn’t diminish the fact that NCAA rules existed and that Freeze blatantly violated them – creating a major scandal in the process – it does show how college football has changed in the time since he left the SEC.

Taking control of Auburn starts with the Tigers’ NIL war chest. The Auburn On to Victory collective reportedly raised $13 million in the first few months of operation to help compensate players. This makes it one of the strongest in the country. Everything is legal until the NCAA or Congress says it’s not.

Don’t hold your breath that either will make such a decision. The NCAA is deregulating and slipping into the background while an enforcement Congress has much bigger fish to fry.

As such, Freeze becomes an asset in talent acquisition. We know he can lead. Just watch him get recruits and transfers with cash howitzer. It’s one of the reasons why Freeze makes perfect sense because the Tigers’ plan B after plan A (Lane Kiffin) didn’t work.

with players this about to unionize or engage in collective bargaining, the first conference to cut off some of its massive media rights revenue for the workforce will own the organizing landscape. Try betting against the SEC being first. Don’t be surprised if Freeze isn’t among the first to creatively weaponize player acquisition.

College football coaches all over the world are complaining about how difficult it is to do their jobs these days. Freeze was ready to crawl to Auburn on broken glass shards. It was a comeback that might never have happened if varsity athletics hadn’t moved right into Freeze’s wheelhouse.

In other words: modern college football has been adapted to it.

About 3 and a half months before the NCAA hammer fell on the Ole Miss program for violations under Freeze’s watch, the coach resigned from his position after discovering that he had made inappropriate calls on a school-issued mobile device to a phone number “associated with a female escort service”.

Although it was “completely irrelevant to the NCAA case”, as an Ole Miss lawyer said at the time, it went from difficult to impossible to stand by Freeze when these fakes not were combined with circumvention of NCAA rules.

More than five years later, it’s up to the consumer to decide where to draw the line.

For a time, college administrators drew that line to Hugh Freeze. On Monday, Auburn erased it.

What has changed is not Freeze as a coach. Not after serving some sort of de facto expulsion at Freedom where he went a respectable 34-15 in four seasons and sent quarterback Malik Willis to the NFL. When the time was right, Freeze was always going to find another Power Five job.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has obviously cleared Freeze’s return to his conference. This after Sankey allegedly “encouraged” Alabama of not hiring Freeze for a coordinator position a few years ago.

Freeze had previously stated that he had resolved his personal misdeeds. He still needs coaching on his self-destructive habit of starting online feuds over perceived slights – at least one of which has been made public – but that’s up to Auburn’s human resources department to deal with.

Maybe Freeze as Plan B isn’t as desirable as the clear Plan A, but Kiffin flatly refused Auburn. It was time to move on, and there was no obvious plan C. The last thing Auburn needed was more dysfunction than a long search for coaching would have created.

The Tigers have a proven winner and scout. The only other active coach on the planet to beat Nick Saban at least twice (Gus Malzahn) also did so at Auburn. Malzahn also returns to the Power Five next year with UCF in the Big 12.

Freeze is now part of an armada of coaches looking to take over after Saban when the great Alabama coach eventually retires. Maybe they can outlast him, starting SEC West with Kiffin, Texas A&Mis Jimbo Fisher and USLis Brian Kelly. At 53, Freeze becomes the second youngest of these Saban challengers in the West behind Kiffin (47).

The rules are new and full of potential. Some schools have been forced to make a choice in the NIL era: put money into facilities or players. Auburn has the resources to do both. He is painfully aware that he remains the other in-state program scratches hard 24/7/365 against the juggernaut in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

On Monday, for at least a day, Auburn and Freeze were in the headlines.

It’s a beginning.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *