It’s official: Hugh Freeze named new football coach at Liberty

hugh freezeLiberty University President Jerry Falwell and Director of Athletics Ian McCaw have announced the hiring of Hugh Freeze as the ninth head coach in the history of the Flames’ football program.

Freeze was introduced today to Flames Nation at a press conference before a packed Club Pavilion level of the Carter Tower at Williams Stadium.

Freeze brings over 25 years of continued coaching success to Liberty, including head coaching experience that has led to conference titles, nationally ranked recruiting classes and bowl appearances at multiple stops during his highly decorated career.

Prior to being named Liberty’s ninth head football coach, Freeze’s collegiate head coaching stops have included Lambuth University (2008-09), Arkansas State (2011) and Ole Miss (2012-16) where he posted a combined 69-32 mark in eight seasons.

The native of Oxford, Miss., returned to his hometown school and lead it back to championship form during his five seasons as head coach at Ole Miss.

Freeze guided Ole Miss to bowl games each of his first four years with the Rebels, becoming the first coach in school history to accomplish the feat. The wins included victories in the BBVA Compass, Music City and Sugar Bowl games.

Ole Miss was one of five programs in the country to make consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances in the first two years of the College Football Playoff system, joining Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Freeze’s squad saw its win total increase during each of his first four years in Oxford, including the program’s first 10-win season since 2003 in 2016. Ole Miss was ranked as high as No. 3 in the national polls in both 2014 and 2015 and finished top 10 in the country for the first time since 1969 after their 2016 Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State.

Ole Miss was a mainstay in the national polls during Freeze’s tenure, including top 25 rankings for 45 weeks over his five-year coaching stay and a string of 27-straight weeks in the polls for the first time since 1957-62.

Under Freeze’s leadership, Ole Miss defeated Alabama in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015, including a 23-27 win over No. 1 ranked Alabama at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 4, 2014.

The Rebels were 3-2 in the “Egg Bowl” rivalry against Mississippi State under Freeze. Their 48-20 Sugar Bowl triumph over Oklahoma State in 2016 to capture their 10th win two seasons ago featured the third-most points ever scored by a team in the Sugar Bowl’s 82-year history.

In 2014, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) awarded Freeze the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year award. Freeze has been heavily involved with FCA during his entire coaching career and has been featured in the FCA Magazine and spoke at FCA functions.

Freeze finished his five-year head coaching career in Oxford with a 39-25 record, guiding Ole Miss to back-to-back nine-win regular seasons for the first time since 1962 and four consecutive bowl games for the first time since 1971.

Freeze has an eye for the nation’s most talented high school players, collecting four national ranked recruiting classes at Ole Miss. In 2013 and 2016, his recruiting classes ranked in the top five nationally, making them the best in program history.

Before returning to Oxford, the former Ole Miss assistant experienced a record-setting run at Arkansas State.

With Freeze as head coach in 2011, the Red Wolves captured the Sun Belt Conference championship and became just the third school in Sun Belt history to finish undefeated in league play with a perfect 8-0 mark. The 10-2 overall record marked the program’s first 10-win season since 1986, when ASU was a member of the I-AA Southland Conference.

In the best debut season ever by an A-State head coach, Freeze became just the 14th FBS first-year head coach to win 10 regular season games. He also returned ASU to a bowl game for the first time since 2005.

Freeze was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year, while 13 of his pupils earned all-conference honors. Freeze’s first season in Jonesboro saw him serve as Arkansas State’s offensive coordinator, guiding the Red Wolves’ offense to a record-breaking year in 2010.

ASU, ranked No. 42 in the nation in scoring offense, finished the season averaging 30 points a game and recorded at least 20 points in 11 consecutive games for the first time in school history. Freeze’s offense scored 46 touchdowns for the fourth-most in school history and the most since the 1975 season.

Prior to his arrival at Arkansas State, Freeze compiled a 20-5 record over the 2008 and 2009 seasons at the helm of the Lambuth University football program in Jackson, Tenn.

Freeze was named the American Football Coaches Association’s Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2009 after leading the Eagles to their best regular season in school history with an 11-0 record.

Under Freeze’s direction, Lambuth won the Mid-South Conference West Division, advanced to the second round of the NAIA playoffs for the first time since 1999, finished the year with a 12-1 mark and ascended to the No. 6 ranking in NAIA.

The Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year oversaw the offense and called plays for a Lambuth team that averaged more than 40 points per game and ranked ninth nationally in total offense (465 ypg). The Eagles also ranked first in the nation in fourth-down conversions, fourth in first downs per game and third-down conversions, fifth in passing and eighth in scoring offense.

Prior to taking over as head coach at Lambuth, Freeze served on the Ole Miss staff from 2005-07, including the final two seasons as an assistant coach.

Before going to Ole Miss, Freeze served 13 years at Briarcrest Christian School (Memphis, Tenn.) as a classroom teacher, coach and administrator. He was the Saints’ head football coach from 1995 to 2004, running the no-huddle “spread system” for six years that led to six straight state championship games.

Freeze compiled a 99-23 record while at Briarcrest, which included an undefeated season in 1996 and led the school to state championship titles in 2002 and 2004. Briarcrest won regional titles in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002, and Freeze was named the Region 8-AA Coach of the Year five times and Associated Press Coach of the Year four times.

Among his talented pupils during that period were eventual Rebels and former NFL starters Michael Oher and Greg Hardy.

Before assuming the role of head coach at Briarcrest, Freeze served as the teams’ offensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 1992-94, as the Saints reached the TSSAA state semifinals twice.

A 1988 graduate of Senatobia High School, Freeze received an associate’s degree from Northwest Mississippi Community College in 1990 and was a two-year letterwinner on the Ranger baseball team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in coaching and sports administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1992.

It was while attending USM that he became active in mission projects, serving as a missionary in Houston, Salt Lake City, St. Petersburg, Russia and Australia. Freeze also served as the state president for the Mississippi Baptist Student Union.

Born in Oxford and raised in Independence, Mississippi, Hugh, and his wife, Jill, are the parents of three daughters: Ragan, Jordan and Madison.

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