Auburn University’s search for its next head football coach concluded Monday with the hiring of offensive mastermind Hugh Freeze.
The hiring, while met with criticism among some factions of the Auburn community, provides the land-grant institution’s football program with a leader who holds a resume of SEC success.
Experience in college football’s pre-eminent conference, combined with other “important factors,” played in Freeze’s favor during the coaching search, according to AU Athletics Director John Cohen.
“After a thoughtful, thorough, and well-vetted search, we ended where we started, with Hugh Freeze,” said Cohen in a release. “Of all the candidates we considered, Hugh was the best fit.
“‘Fit’ has several meanings, but the most important factors were student-athlete development, football strategy, recruiting and SEC experience.”
Freeze, who led Liberty University to a 34-15 record during his four years in Lynchburg, said interim head coach Cadillac Williams did an “incredible job” taking over the reins after the firing of Bryan Harsin.
“First, I want to acknowledge Cadillac Williams for the incredible job he did as interim head coach. The impact he made is immeasurable and cannot be overstated,” said Freeze. “Secondly, Auburn is one of the pre-eminent programs in college football and I’m very appreciative of President Roberts and John Cohen for this opportunity at Auburn.”
While at Ole Miss, Freeze’s high-powered offense beat Alabama’s Nick Saban in back-to-back years. It was during his tenure in Oxford that he learned “how special” the university was.
“I’ve been fortunate to witness first-hand how special Auburn is during my time as a head coach in the SEC and while visiting my daughter Jordan who attended Auburn and currently lives in the community,” he said. “I can’t wait to work with our student-athletes and the Auburn family to bring championships back to The Plains.”
In a show of administrative unity, AU President Christopher B. Roberts echoed Cohen in singing the praises of Freeze.
“I’m pleased that our Athletics Director John Cohen conducted a detailed and thorough national search process, and I look forward to welcoming Hugh and Jill Freeze to The Plains,” said Roberts. “I am impressed with Coach Freeze’s focus on player development and his on-the-field success at multiple universities and at multiple levels.”
Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL