Breaking down Hugh Freeze to Liberty Football: Home-run hire

hugh freezeLiberty has a new football coach: Hugh Freeze, and this is either, a) huge news, because Freeze is a former SEC head coach, or b) are you serious, this is the guy who was run out of town because of a scandal involving phone calls to escort services?

I’ll lean toward a) huge news. This is, after all, Liberty, which also recycled and rehabbed Ian McCaw, who oversaw the glory years of the athletics program at Baylor, which happened to coincide with abhorrent oversight leading to hellfire and damnation raining down on everybody on their way out the door.

In the context of the McCaw hire, then, Hugh Freeze, c’mon, OK, the phone calls in question, to escort services, dated back to the beginning of his tenure at Ole Miss, in 2012.

But, he was also 39-25 at the helm for the Rebels, including taking a program that had won just two games in 2011 to four straight bowl games, and a 10-win season and Sugar Bowl berth in 2015.

OK, so his last season, 2016, was 5-7, and Ole Miss was banned from bowl consideration in 2017 and 2018 in the wake of other stuff that came up under Freeze’s watch.

Pesky little, fake news-type stuff: cash payments and merchandise to prospects, lodging and meals to recruits and their families.

All that said, Freeze had been connected with multiple programs on the lookout for a new offensive coordinator, including Auburn, Florida State and Tennessee, and this was after Alabama reportedly had tried to hire Freeze earlier this year.

So, the football world, ostensibly, had forgiven Freeze, given the interest, and where it was coming from. The Auburns, Alabamas, Florida States, Tennessees, they’re not known for hiring nobodies off the street.

Yeah, none of those are exactly paragons of virtue. The goal at that level of institution is: win.

What we know about Liberty is that the goal is the same.

Meaning: this is a home-run hire for Liberty.

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd juxtaposition: a private, evangelical Christian university hiring as its new football coach a man who lost his last job because of something or the other involving an escort service.

To inject some perspective here: evangelicals have, of late, demonstrated willingness to let up a bit on the morals (ahem, Donald Trump) in pursuit of bigger, more important goals.

Jerry Falwell Jr. envisions Liberty as the evangelical Notre Dame. Hugh Freeze will get the football part a lot closer.

Home-run hire.

Column by Chris Graham

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