A year to the week after the NCAA bulldozed the Ole Miss program with a two-year bowl ban and hefty recruiting limitations, the man once thought to be at the center of the wreckage is once again a head college football coach.
As confirmed by SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey, Hugh Freeze has been hired by Liberty University, a private Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia. Of note: the man who hired him, Ian McCaw, was the Baylor athletic director who resigned during that school’s ugly scandals.
Liberty clearly isn’t afraid of the baggage Freeze carries into Lynchburg. After seemingly surviving the multiyear NCAA investigation that ended with allegations that the program lacked institutional control, Freeze was undone when a lawsuit by Houston Nutt, of all people, revealed that Freeze contacted escort services on his school phone. He resigned from Ole Miss in July of 2017.
I guess it makes sense that Freeze, whose press conferences and pregame speeches were often more fit for a Baptist preacher than a football coach at a public university, begins his comeback tour at a religious institution. His first public appearance in the wake of the prostitution scandal? A convocation session on Liberty’s campus last January.
Here’s your reminder that while the NCAA did its best to bury Ole Miss, it let Freeze off with a surprisingly light sentence: a two-game ban and only if he was a head coach in 2018. He won’t have to sit out any games next season for Liberty.
Freeze had plenty of options this offseason. He’d been heavily rumored to be Tennessee’s top choice as offensive coordinator, sat down with Florida State head coach Willie Taggert earlier this week and had been connected to jobs at Alabama and Auburn.
It seems he wants to be a head coach again. Sixteen months after that looked like an impossibility, he’s getting the opportunity.