What’s the next move for former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze after sitting out the 2017 football season? According to Paul Finebaum, it probably involves a little more patience for those who are interested in seeing one of the game’s top offensive minds back on sidelines.
Freeze parted ways with Ole Miss last summer after it was revealed he had used a university phone to make contact with escort services. When that type of report hits amid an NCAA investigation that brought forth scholarship reductions and postseason bans for the Rebels program, it’s easy to see why Ole Miss had to part ways with the man who had pushed the program to the top 5 of AP poll as recently as 2015 and had enjoyed back-to-back victories against Nick Saban’s Alabama program.
Freeze has since gone on what amounts to a “redemption tour” that included speaking at Liberty University alongside his wife, Jill, to explain how his life has changed in the fallout of these events. And Saban has reportedly attempted to hire Freeze to serve as either an assistant or analyst on the Crimson Tide offensive staff, but the idea was seemingly shut down by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
There even have been rumors of Freeze entertaining a high school coaching job in Tennessee, but Freeze quickly shot that down.
With all that out there, would you believe that SEC Network personality Paul Finebaum’s prediction for Freeze’s next move is actually as a college football head coach?
During a Monday morning appearance on WJOX-FM’s The RoundTable, Finebaum offered his explanation on what he thinks is next for the maligned coach.
“I think he’ll come back somewhere as a head coach,” Finebaum said in response to a question on Freeze’s next move. “Clearly, we’ve been through this episode a couple of months ago with Saban trying to hire him. I think that was the first step. But I think once the cloud lifts, which it will after he sits out a year, he could get a [head coaching] job at a lower-level school.
“I think he’s a good coach who just got caught up in a lot of bad headwinds where he invited people to look into what he was doing, and they did. It wasn’t the first probation that really got Hugh Freeze. They did not hit him very hard on the first go around. It was only after Laremy Tunsil showed up two years ago on draft night did they come back. I think he’s hireable. He’s a a personable guy. I’ve argued back and forth on whether he should’ve just come out and done a mea culpa on what happened with the escort service. He chose not to and he’s talked over it. It may work, because by the time you see him again people are not going to remember. And talking about this almost every day, most people still don’t understand what really happened there. They think it may have been a one-time mistake or a one-time episode, so by not talking about it, the longer this goes on, the more people don’t care. All most people remember about Hugh Freeze if you walk into a bar in Atlanta, New Orleans or Tampa, outside of losing his job, is that he beat Nick Saban twice.”
Prior to landing at Ole Miss, Freeze was a head coach in the Sun Belt at Arkansas State. After Bobby Petrino was run out of Arkansas following an extramarital affair and motorcycle accident that required an image rehab of its own, he too sought refuge in the Sun Belt as the head coach at Western Kentucky (which has since moved to Conference USA).
Will the Sun Belt again be the target for Freeze to resume his coaching career in 2019? At this point in the football coach hiring cycle, we’re left to only speculate.
You can listen to Finebaum’s entire interview with WJOX-FM here: