Hugh Freeze

Hugh Freeze
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
Born (1969-09-27) September 27, 1969 (age 53)
Oxford, Mississippi
Playing career
1989–1990Northwest Mississippi CC
Fall 1990Southern Miss
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1992–1994Briarcrest HS (TN) (OC/DB)
1995–2004Briarcrest HS (TN)
2006–2007Ole Miss (TE/RC)
2010Arkansas State (OC)
2011Arkansas State
2012–2016Ole Miss
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
2005Ole Miss (assistant AD)
Head coaching record
Tournaments1–2 (NAIA playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
1 Sun Belt (2011)
2 MSC West Division (2008–2009)
2 Tennessee HS 8-AA (2002, 2004)
6 Tennessee HS 8-AA Regional (1995–1998, 2001, 2002)
AFCA Southeast Region COY (2009)
Mid-South Conference COY (2009)
5× Region 8-AA COY

Danny Hugh Freeze Jr.[2] (born September 27, 1969) is an American football coach. The head football coach at Liberty University through the 2022 season, Freeze has been hired to be the head coach for Auburn University in 2023.[3]

A successful high school football coach at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee, Freeze coached Michael Oher and Greg Hardy. He subsequently was the head football coach at Lambuth University from 2008 to 2009, Arkansas State University in 2011, the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) from 2012 to 2016, and Liberty University from 2018 to 2022.

Under Freeze, the Ole Miss football program committed various recruiting and academic violations that figured in the NCAA's decision to expunge 27 of Freeze's wins and ban the team from post-season play for two years.[4] After university officials attempted to paint Freeze's predecessor as the main culprit, they were sued for defamation and issued a public apology.[5] The team's star quarterback and other players told NCAA officials that Freeze lied to them about the charges while he recruited them.[6]

Freeze resigned from Ole Miss after officials discovered that he had used a university cellphone to call escort services at least a dozen times over 33 months.[7][8]

Early life

Freeze graduated Senatobia High School in 1988, and then attended Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he lettered two years in junior college baseball. He became an NJCAA Academic All-American for the Rangers in the spring of 1990.[9][10][11]

Freeze then attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he tried out for the baseball team in the fall of 1990, hoping to make the roster for the spring of 1991. He was cut from the team.[12] He graduated from Southern Miss in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a minor in coaching and sports administration.[13]

Coaching career

Briarcrest Christian School

In 1992, Freeze joined the staff at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee, as the football team's offensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Freeze also served as dean of students.[14] In 1995, he was promoted to head coach. Freeze ran the no-huddle spread offense and led his team to the state championship twice, in 2002 and 2004, and the regional championship each year from 1995 to 1998 and in 2001 and 2002. He received Region 8-AA Coach of the Year honors five times and Associated Press Coach of the Year honors six times.[13] In ten years at Briarcrest, Freeze was 94–30 as head coach (.785 winning percentage) and 126–37 overall.[15] Freeze was depicted in the book and motion picture The Blind Side, about one of his former players, offensive tackle Michael Oher.[16]

While at Briarcrest Christian School, Freeze also coached the girls basketball team from 1992 to 2004, and actually had more success in this role, with an overall record of 305–63 (.829 winning percentage), seven straight championship appearances, and four championships.[17]

Following his dismissal from Ole Miss in 2017, some former students alleged that Freeze had engaged in inappropriate conduct with female students while at Briarcrest.[18][19] Freeze has denied the allegations. Briarcrest officials said they were unaware of any sexual improprieties committed by Freeze during his tenure.[14]

Ole Miss assistant coach

In 2005, the University of Mississippi hired Freeze as an assistant athletic director for football external affairs. The following season, he became the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, positions he held through 2007.[13] After that season, he replaced head coach Ed Orgeron on an interim basis before the hiring of Houston Nutt.[13] Freeze interviewed for the offensive coordinator position with Nutt,[20] a position that eventually went to Kent Austin.


In January 2008, Lambuth University, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), named Freeze its head coach.[21] In 2008, he led Lambuth to an 8–4 record and a first round loss in the NAIA playoffs, marking their first appearance in the playoffs since 2004 under then head coach Vic Wallace. He was considered for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's head coaching position following the 2008 season, but remained at Lambuth University for another season and compiled a 20–5 overall record, and defeating opponents 41–17 on average. In 2009, he led the Eagles to their best regular season record in school history with an unblemished 11–0 mark. Lambuth advanced to the second round of the NAIA playoffs for first time in 11 years—having won one game before suffering elimination to finish 12–1 as the sixth-ranked team in the NAIA.[13]

Arkansas State

In 2010, he joined the staff of head coach Steve Roberts at Arkansas State as offensive coordinator, joining the program after spending less than two months, during the 2009-2010 offseason, as offensive coordinator at San Jose State University.[22]

The Red Wolves finished 2010 with a 4–8 record, but their offensive rankings jumped from 95th in total offense and 90th in scoring offense in the NCAA Division I FBS to 43rd and 46th, respectively. The Red Wolves' offense broke nine school records including total plays (856), first downs (262), pass attempts (438), pass completions (266), completion percentage (.607), passing yards (3,057), passing yards per game (254.8), and passing touchdowns (23). The Red Wolves' offense averaged 403.4 yards per game, eclipsing over 300 yards all 12 times it took the field for the first time in the history of the program. A-State posted at least 400 yards of total offense in seven games during the 2010 campaign, the most ever as an NCAA FBS member, all in his first year as offensive coordinator. After the season, Roberts was fired and Freeze was promoted to head coach.[23]

In 2011, his only season as head coach at Arkansas State, he led the Red Wolves to a 10–2 record and their first Sun Belt Conference title since 2005. The Red Wolves' offense averaged 447.8 ypg (28th nationally, 1st in Sun Belt Conference) including 293.6 ypg passing and 154.2 ypg rushing.[24] Freeze left Arkansas State before Arkansas State's post-season appearance in the Bowl.

Ole Miss

On December 5, 2011, Freeze was announced as the 37th head coach of the University of Mississippi. During the press conference to introduce him as the head coach, Freeze said he wanted to "retire at Ole Miss." He was signed to a four-year contract with an annual salary of $1.5 million plus incentives up to $2.5 million.[25] His salary was later reported to be $4.7 million, making him the highest-paid employee in the state of Mississippi.[26]

In his first season at Ole Miss, Freeze led the Rebels to a 6–6 record in the regular season, including a 41–24 victory over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Eligible to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2009, Ole Miss played in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama, on January 5, 2013, defeating the University of Pittsburgh 38–17 to finish 7–6.[b]

Freeze received national attention on National Signing Day 2013 as Ole Miss brought in the fifth-ranked recruiting class in the country.[27]

Freeze won the 2014 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year award by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.[28]

During Freeze's third season at Ole Miss, he led the Rebels to a 7–0 start, the program's best start since the Johnny Vaught era. By October, they had risen as high as third in the nation, their highest ranking at that late stage in the season in almost half a century. They ultimately finished 9–3, only the third time since Vaught's tenure that Ole Miss has won that many games in the regular season. That netted them an appearance in the 2014 Peach Bowl: their first major bowl appearance since the 1970 Sugar Bowl, and the biggest since Vaught's tenure.

On September 19, 2015, Freeze's Rebels beat Alabama, 43–37, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, making Freeze only the third SEC head coach, along with Les Miles and Steve Spurrier, to defeat a Nick Saban-coached team in back-to-back years. The victory catapulted the Rebels to No. 3 in the AP rankings. They went on to tally their second straight nine-win season, and garnered a berth in the 2016 Sugar Bowl, where they won 48–20 over Oklahoma State. They finished ninth in the AP Poll and 10th in the Coaches' Poll—their first top-10 finishes in a final poll since 1969. It was also only the Rebels' third 10-win season since the Vaught era.

Scandals and resignation

In January 2016, the NCAA charged Ole Miss with numerous recruiting violations. An investigation turned up evidence that Ole Miss employees and boosters arranged numerous "impermissible benefits" for players, such as car loans and cash. At least one recruit was suspected of getting help on his college entrance exam.[29] Ole Miss officials began calling reporters, telling them falsely that most of the alleged violations had taken place under Freeze's predecessor Houston Nutt.[30]

The investigation reopened soon after star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil admitted taking money from one of Freeze's assistants.[31] In February 2017—three months after suffering its first losing season since the year Freeze arrived—Ole Miss withdrew from bowl consideration for the upcoming season. The move came on the same day that the NCAA sent an updated notice of allegations charging the Rebels with eight additional violations. Most seriously, it accused Freeze of not monitoring his assistants, and also accused Ole Miss of not properly controlling the program.[29] The new allegations brought the total to 21: four under Nutt and 17 under Freeze.[32]

Freeze continued to recruit players during the investigation. Six Ole Miss players, including star quarterback Shea Patterson and future NFL players Van Jefferson and Tre Nixon, later said Freeze and other Ole Miss officials repeatedly lied to them during their recruitment about the severity of the pending charges. After the charges became public, these players sought to transfer to other schools; each requested and received a waiver to the NCAA rule that would have prevented them from playing for a year.[6][33][34]

On July 13, 2017, Nutt sued Ole Miss for defamation, contending that Freeze and school officials had "conspired to smear him" with false claims about the charges.[35][36] On October 16, 2017, Ole Miss settled the lawsuit and issued a public apology to Nutt.[5][37]

As part of discovery for the lawsuit, Nutt's attorneys filed a freedom-of-information request for calls Freeze made on his university-issued cell phone during January 2016. While reviewing those records, Nutt's attorneys discovered a call to a number associated with a female escort service, and alerted Ole Miss officials about it. Freeze claimed it was a misdialed number.[38] School officials investigated, and discovered what they later described as "a concerning pattern" of similar calls dating back to shortly after he arrived in Oxford:[39] at least a dozen calls over 33 months,[7][8] often made while Freeze was traveling on business trips using Ole Miss' private plane.[26] On July 20, 2017, chancellor Jeff Vitter and athletic director Ross Bjork gave Freeze an ultimatum: resign or be fired for violating the morals clause of his contract. Freeze opted to resign; offensive coordinator Matt Luke was named interim coach.[8]

In February 2019, the NCAA punished the Ole Miss football team for the recruiting and academic violations committed under both Nutt and Freeze. "The panel found the involved head coach [Freeze] failed to monitor the program, allowing his staff to knowingly commit a series of recruiting violations, submit false information on recruiting paperwork and not report known violations," an NCAA statement said.[40] The punishments included a two-year postseason ban, three years of probation, and a four-year ban on some scholarships. As well, the NCAA forced Ole Miss to vacate 33 wins from 2010 to 2016. As a result, 27 of Freeze's wins were stripped from the books; only the 2015 season was unaffected. His record at Ole Miss is now officially 12–25; it was 39–25 on the field.[4]


On October 11, 2018, Freeze was offered a job as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football league; he turned it down.[41]

Freeze was named head coach of the Liberty Flames football team on December 7, 2018.[42]

In his first year with the team, the Liberty Flames played to a 7–5 record, qualified for bowl games for the first time in school history, and accepted an invitation to the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

On December 10, 2019, Freeze signed a five-year extension with Liberty.[43]

In 2020, the Flames finished with a 10–1 record, including a 15–14 loss to NC State. Freeze tested positive for COVID-19 on December 11, 2020.[44] He returned in time to coach Liberty in the 2020 Cure Bowl, and beat Coastal Carolina. Freeze was rumored to be a candidate in several SEC coaching searches, including searches to replace South Carolina's Will Muschamp and Auburn's Gus Malzahn. He declined interest in any of these positions, saying, "I won't even entertain things of that nature at this point".[45]

In January and July 2022, Freeze sent multiple unsolicited direct messages on Twitter to Chelsea Andrews, a former student at Liberty. Andrews, a sexual assault survivor, had sued Liberty over the handling of her case.[46] She was also publicly critical of Liberty's decision to hire athletic director Ian McCaw, who had resigned from his previous job at Baylor University after the university sanctioned him for failing to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by student-athletes.[47] Freeze, in his messages to Andrews, defended McCaw and called him "the most Jesus like leader I have ever seen or been around."[48][49] Five months later, he told ESPN he was sorry for sending the messages.[50]


On November 29, 2022, Auburn University announced that it had hired Freeze to be the 31st head coach of the Auburn Tigers football team. His six-year contract will pay him an average of $6.5 million a year, ESPN reported.[3]

Personal life

Freeze and his wife Jill have three daughters; Ragan, Jordan, and Madison.[51] Freeze has said he is a born-again Christian and has been outspoken about his faith throughout his coaching career.[52][53] In 2018, the Baptist Press described him as "a regular speaker at churches and conferences whose Twitter account is filled with Christian references."[54] After he was forced to resign from Ole Miss for his calls to escort services, "he faced scrutiny and criticism not only as a rising star in the coaching world, but as a high profile evangelical Christian, too," wrote the Tennessean.[55]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Lambuth Eagles (Mid-South Conference) (2008–2009)
2008 Lambuth 8–4 4–1 T–1st (West)
2009 Lambuth 12–1 6–0 1st (West) L NAIA Quarterfinal
Lambuth: 20–5 10–1
Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt Conference) (2011)
2011 Arkansas State 10–2 8–0 1st*
Arkansas State: 10–2 8–0 * Quit Arkansas State to join Ole Miss before bowl game
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (2012–2016)
2012 Ole Miss 0–6[a] 0–5[a] 5th (Western) V BBVA Compass[b]
2013 Ole Miss 0–5[a] 0–5[a] T–5th (Western) W Music City
2014 Ole Miss 0–4[a] 0–3[a] 3rd (Western) L Peach 19 17
2015 Ole Miss 10–3 6–2 2nd (Western) W Sugar 9 10
2016 Ole Miss 0–7[a] 0–6[a] 7th (Western)
Ole Miss: 10–25[a] 6–21[a]
Liberty Flames (NCAA Division I FBS independent) (2019–2022)
2019 Liberty 8–5 W Cure
2020 Liberty 10–1 W Cure 18 17
2021 Liberty 8–5 W LendingTree
2022 Liberty 8–4 Boca Raton*
Liberty: 34–15 * Quit Liberty to join Auburn before bowl game
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2023–present)
2023 Auburn 0–0
Total: 76–47[a]
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Does not include 27 wins vacated by the NCAA in 2019. Actual on-field record of 7–6 in 2012, 8–5 in 2013, 9–4 in 2014, and 5–7 in 2016.[1]
  2. ^ a b c The 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl victory was vacated by the NCAA in 2019.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Ole Miss football forced to vacate 33 wins after investigation". February 12, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  2. ^ "Nicholls coaching search nets 42 applicants". Houma Today. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Auburn hires Freeze, 'the best fit,' as next coach". November 28, 2022. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Axson, Scooby (February 12, 2019). "Ole Miss to vacate 33 FB wins after violations". Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Rollins, Khadrice (October 16, 2017). "Ole Miss reaches settlement with Houston Nutt". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Dodd, Dennis (February 1, 2018). "Ole Miss transfers building appeal cases proving they were misled by Hugh Freeze". Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Review shows 12 Freeze calls to escort numbers". August 22, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Schlabach, Mark (July 20, 2017). "Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze resigns; escort-service calls cited".
  9. ^ "Thirteen Former Rangers to Compete in FBS Bowl Games".
  10. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Hugh Freeze Talks Northwest Mississippi CC, JUCO Route". YouTube.
  11. ^ "Hugh Freeze - Football Coach".
  12. ^ "SOUTHERN MISS' COACHES, FRIENDS HELPED MOLD HUGH FREEze's LIFE - by Robert Wilson". October 22, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d e Hugh Freeze Bio, Arkansas State University, retrieved December 16, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Giannotto, Mike (July 24, 2017). "At Briarcrest Christian School, Hugh Freeze's legacy is everywhere". The Commercial Appeal.
  15. ^ "Briarcrest Christian School - Athletics - HS - Team Pages - Fball - 1998-2009". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  16. ^ Oher's HS Coach Gets Top Job at Arkansas State[permanent dead link], NBC Sports, December 2, 2010.
  17. ^ Cacciola, Scott (October 22, 2014). "Hugh Freeze, Coach at Ole Miss, Follows an Unlikely Blueprint". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  18. ^ Heim, Mark (July 31, 2017). "Hugh Freeze stories emerge from former female students at Briarcrest Christian".
  19. ^ Peter, Josh (July 29, 2017). "Who is Hugh Freeze? Conflicting views of former Ole Miss coach emerge". USA Today.
  20. ^ "Nutt Has Long List for New OC". January 9, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  21. ^ Hugh Freeze Named Lambuth University Head Football Coach, Lambuth University, January 19, 2008.
  22. ^ "ASU Football Names Freeze New Offensive Coordinator". Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  23. ^ Feldman, Bruce (December 2, 2010). "Hugh Freeze hired at Arkansas St". Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  24. ^ "2011 Arkansas State Red Wolves Stats". Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  25. ^ "Hugh Freeze is Rebels' new coach". Associated Press. December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  26. ^ a b Beaton, Andrew. "Hugh Freeze's Ouster at Ole Miss Followed Calls to Escort Services on Recruiting Trips". WSJ. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  27. ^ "2013 Football Class Rankings". Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  28. ^ "Hugh Freeze named coach of the year by Fellowship of Christian Athletes". Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  29. ^ a b Morgan Moriarty (February 22, 2017). "The updated list of 21 NCAA allegations against Ole Miss football". SB Nation.
  30. ^ Wolken, Dan. "Detailed claims in Houston Nutt's lawsuit make case Ole Miss definitely owes an apology". USA TODAY. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  31. ^ "Laremy Tunsil says he took money from coach at Ole Miss". ESPN. April 28, 2016.
  32. ^ "Freeze's fall at Ole Miss partially traced to Nutt's suit". FOX Sports. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  33. ^ "Gators WR Jefferson eligible to play in 2018". August 13, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  34. ^ Wolken, Dan. "Attorney: Five more Ole Miss transfers ruled immediately eligible". USA TODAY. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  35. ^ Wolken, Dan. "Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze made call to number tied to escort service". USA TODAY. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  36. ^ "Freeze's fall at Ole Miss partially traced to Nutt's suit - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. August 16, 2017. Archived from the original on August 16, 2017.
  37. ^ Alford, Parrish. "Notebook: Nutt settlement, if not Arkansas who, finding Brown and more". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  38. ^ "Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze made call to number tied to escort service". USA Today. July 20, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  39. ^ "Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze resigns: 'Concerning pattern' from phone records forces Rebel coach out". The Oxford Eagle. July 20, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  40. ^ "Ole Miss lacked institutional control in football program". Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  41. ^ "Hugh Freeze to be offensive coordinator for Arizona of AAF". ESPN. October 11, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  42. ^ Caron, Emily (December 7, 2018). "Liberty Hires Hugh Freeze".
  43. ^ "Liberty extends Hugh Freeze's contract". al. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  44. ^ Sallee, Barrett (December 11, 2020). "Liberty coach Hugh Freeze tests positive for COVID-19 as program deals with outbreak". Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  45. ^ "Hugh Freeze asked about South Carolina Gamecocks coaching job on College GameDay". Saturday Down South. November 21, 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  46. ^ The university settled the case in May 2022; details of the settlement remain secret.Beasley, Cynthia (May 11, 2022). "Settlement reached in claim Liberty University hid rapes, punished victims". WSET. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  47. ^ "Baylor board chair: Investigation findings 'shocked and outraged us'". Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  48. ^ Talty, John (November 29, 2022). "Chelsea Andrews: Auburn never asked about Hugh Freeze messages". Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  49. ^ Moody, Josh (July 18, 2022). "Liberty Coach Takes Aim at Sex Assault Survivor on Twitter". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  50. ^ "Freeze hoping to earn 'trust' with Auburn faithful". November 29, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  51. ^ "Jill Freeze—Her Life and Calling – Mississippi Christian Living". May 1, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  52. ^ Toalston, Art (January 25, 2018). "Hugh & Jill Freeze speak of God's grace at Liberty U." Baptist Press. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  53. ^ "Hugh Freeze asks for prayer, looking to get life back together: Mississippi pastor". July 26, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  54. ^ Roach, David (July 24, 2017). "Ole Miss coach resigns amid scandal, requests prayer". Baptist Press. Retrieved November 17, 2022.
  55. ^ Meyer, Holly. "Hugh Freeze, sin and the scandal's impact on evangelical Christians". The Tennessean. Retrieved November 17, 2022.

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