[ED: If you haven't yet seen it, Hugh Freeze's introductory press conference can be viewed here.]
In front of a capacity crowd at the Gertrude C. Castellow Ford Center, Chancellor Dan Jones and Coaching Search Committee co-Chair Mike Glenn introduced Hugh Freeze as the next head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels yesterday to much hootin', hollerin', and general excitement. Freeze had the air of a Baptist minister about him - where have we heard that before? - as he paced the stage, microphone in hand, and earnestly and emotionally addressed the crowd about his desire to coach at Ole Miss, his feelings about the football program, his goals as a coach, and his aspirations for his team.
None of us at the Cup were in Oxford yesterday, meaning that we either had to watch the press conference streaming live over the internet or, in the case of your's truly, via Ole Miss Sports dot com last night and, again, this morning. Even though we weren't there in person, the enthusiasm and earnestness we saw of coach Freeze was nearly palpable. So while many of us were and still are upset at our "national" coaching search resulting in a hire which could have been made by a university janitor with $50 per diem ("Hey, Cletus, just drive up to Jonesboro and knock on his door. Here's a printout from Google Maps."), it is safe to say that Freeze did and can win folks over which, ultimately, is a good thing; he's going to need to.
My initial impressions of our new head football coach are, tersely presented, are after the jump.
- For whatever it's worth to you, Hugh Freeze wanted this job. He's native to the area and has strong ties to the Ole Miss program and community. When he said that his goal was to one day end up as the Rebel head coach, I couldn't help but believe him.
- He talks a lot about love, family, integrity, togetherness, and all other sorts of feel-goody talk you hear out of coaches during these kinds of things, and he does so to an extent that would come off as hypocritical if it wasn't obvious that he's so very earnest.
- He only briefly mentioned competing for "SEC Championships" or whatever it was he said. He made very few lofty promises ("Suga Bow," "road to Atlanta," etc.) and readily acknowledged that this program is not in great shape right now. He referred to the team as being "lost in the wilderness" several times, again evoking Biblical imagery but also giving a frank assessment of things as he sees them.
- He actually articulated a plan of sorts for his program. Of course details and nuances were avoided, but it wasn't the simple "W-I-N is how we spell 'fun'" type of talk either. He talked about accountability, discipline, hard work, and all of the other things we would hope a coach would attempt to instill in our players.
- He seems to handle the press very well. Sure, they weren't giving him anything hard hitting, but there was potential for both gaffes and silly sound bites, neither of which Freeze surrendered.
- He does a very good Ed Orgeron impression.
- He does a far-too-good Ed Orgeron impression.
- He was really enthusiastic, almost to a fault. We're excited that he's excited, but he did, at times, come off as a person who can be easily consumed and swayed by his emotions. Again, that's just what we got out of his introductory press conference.
- The ministerial aura he projects most certainly will rub off on some people (and recruits) the wrong way, especially if such is done after another agonizing football loss.
- His referral of Ole Miss as the flagship university was fine (because it's true), but his refusal to mention Dan Mullen by name came off as both forced and unnecessarily retaliatory. Dan Mullen's an annoying ass who panders to a fan base made largely of annoying asses; Freeze doesn't need to do the same, nor would I want him to.
What about you? I know this PC was discussed pretty thoroughly in the thread below this one, but if you were to succinctly sum up what you saw out of coach Freeze, how would you do it? What would you say?