From former News and Record writer Tony Barnhart, now with SI/TMG Sports…..Outstanding work, and worth your time to check it out….
There was a time when Hugh Freeze, the man who beat Nick Saban in back-to-back years (2014-2015) and came very close to a third straight win over the best coach in college history (a 48-43 loss in 2016) thought he might have lost it all.
In July of 2017, Freeze had abruptly resigned as the Ole Miss head coach. It was later revealed that Freeze had used a university cell phone to call a number related to an escort service. A university investigation revealed “a pattern of personal misconduct” and Freeze stepped away. University officials insisted at the time than an ongoing NCAA investigation into the program played no role in his being forced to leave.
Freeze, who was a successful high school coach before taking his first head coaching college job at tiny Lambuth College in January of 2008, had made a meteoric rise to the top of his profession, taking Ole Miss to back-to-back New Year’s Six bowls. In January of 2016 the Rebels went to their first Sugar Bowl in 36 years. Freeze’s dad, Danny, had his photo taken with Archie Manning on the floor of the Louisiana Superdome.
“It was a thrill,” said Freeze.
Almost 19 months later he was unemployed. He was 48 years old and didn’t know if he would ever coach again.
“I thought I might lose my career,” he said.
That moment in July of 2017 began a journey of redemption for Freeze.
When we talked on Monday, Hugh Freeze wanted me to know this up front: When it came to his personal misconduct, he owns it all. No excuses.
“I will have to go to my grave knowing I caused people to put a question mark beside my name and my character,” he said. “I hate that so much that I can’t put it into words.”
Repairing the damage with his wife, Jill, and their three daughters was beyond painful. But the family is still together.
“My biggest blessing is my wife and kids,” said Freeze
After two years out of college football Freeze was hired in December of 2018 as the head coach at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Liberty is an FBS independent with a football program that aspires to be much more. Freeze spoke to me from his office at the $20 million Liberty Football Center, a 65,000-square foot facility located in the North End Zone at Williams Stadium.
And as it has been the case in all of his other coaching stops–Lambuth, Arkansas State, Ole Miss—he has had early success at Liberty. In 2019 the Flames went 8-5 and went to their first-ever bowl game, beating Georgia Southern.
So far, the 2020 season has been magical. Liberty is a 6-0, which includes a dominating 38-21 win at Syracuse on Oct. 17, the school’s first-ever win over an ACC team. The Flames are off this week with a challenging back half of the schedule that includes road trips to Virginia Tech, N.C. State, and Coastal Carolina. It was a good time to take stock of where he is and where the program is.
CLICK HERE to read more/read all…..Nice job here by Mr. College Football/Tony Barnhart…..
The closing thoughts on Hugh Freeze, from Tony Barnhart….
After being knocked to his knees and asking for forgiveness, Danny Hugh Freeze, Jr., is still standing and walking on a path that he prays will lead to redemption.