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11/29/22 Auburn Articles


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Five potential defensive coordinator candidates for Auburn

Lance Dawe
~3 minutes

Now that Auburn has officially hired Hugh Freeze as their next head coach, it's time to turn our attention to the rest of the staff.

The Tigers will be looking for a new defensive coordinator to coach underneath Freeze. There are quite a number of names out there that could fit the staff well, but we've got five names to throw out here before things get serious over the next couple of weeks.

Here are five potential candidates for DC.

Zach Arnett - Mississippi State

Zach Aren't

Austin Perryman, Mississippi State Athletics

Arnett has piloted one of the most successful SEC defenses over the last three seasons for the Bulldogs. His 2019 defense at San Diego State was a top ten unit nationally.

Although he is probably looking to make a move up as a head coach in the near future, Arnett would be a solid choice.

Gary Patterson - Texas

Oct 2, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson reacts during the second quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Patterson spent over 20 years at TCU and had ten different defenses finish inside the top 35 (yards per play) nationally from 2009 to 2021.

He is currently the special assistant to head coach Steve Sarkisian at Texas.

Charles Kelly - Alabama

Alabama associate defensive coordinator / safety coach Charles Kelly before the Texas A&M game at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas on Saturday October 12, 2019. Kelly601

© Mickey Welsh via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Kelly is the current assistant defensive coordinator/safeties coach for the Crimson Tide. He's a former defensive back for Auburn was a GA on the Plains in 1993.

We have had multiple sources tell us before Freeze was hired that Kelly would be a name to watch for DC.

Jim Leonhard - Wisconsin

Wisconsin head coach Jim Leonhard, center, is shown during the first quarter of their game Saturday, November 26, 2022 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Uwgrid26 5


Leonhard was expected to be the next man up at Wisconsin after taking the interim role earlier this season.

Now, that ship has sailed with the hiring of Luke Fickell.

Leonhard has a purely Wisconsin background. He played there and he's coached nowhere else since leaving the NFL as a player in 2014.

He's an excellent defensive mind that may elect to stay in the Badgers' region.

Travis Williams - UCF

Travis Williams

Orlando Sentinel

Former player? Check. Former position coach? Check. Former Co-DC? Check. Experience as a true DC? Also check.

Auburn fans would likely be thrilled with this hire.

Auburn hires Hugh Freeze to become next head football coach

Hugh Freeze talks about the Auburn job

Auburn basketball defeats St. Louis 65-60

WATCH: Robby Ashford throws a touchdown in the Iron Bowl

Auburn falls in the Iron Bowl

Edited by aubiefifty
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Hugh Freeze addresses questions about the Auburn head coaching job

Jack Singley
~2 minutes

Auburn has been searching for a head coach since Halloween, and one of many constant names mentioned has been Hugh Freeze.

Freeze mentioned these rumors in his postgame press conference after a blowout loss to New Mexico State.

Freeze, when asked about if the swirling rumors about his candidacy for the Auburn Head Coach position caused a distraction for the team provided the following answer.

"For that to come out, and I haven't been offered a job, but it was certainly hard to refute that report. It was bothering some people, and I just hate it." "I was asked directly by them (Liberty players) and whether or not that had to do, if it had anything to do with our flatness for sure"

Freeze was later asked if he could reveal any more information on the status of his tenure at Liberty.

"I've communicated with Ian (Liberty AD) if someone ever wanted to talk to us that interest us I would always tell them. Is the job everyone is talking about one that I would have an interest in talking with? Sure. That doesn't mean they have offered me a job... The part that is false is that there has been no offer made to me, nor have I accepted anything"

Freeze reiterates throughout the press conference that he has been that there has not been an offer extended to him from anyone. He also does not indicate whether he would stay or leave for a bigger opportunity.

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Auburn’s Hugh Freeze agrees to ‘relinquish control’ of social media accounts, per report

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 7:45 a.m.|Published: Nov. 28, 2022, 9:12 p.m.
~3 minutes

New Auburn coach Hugh Freeze has agreed to relinquish control of his social media accounts, according to an SI report.

Citing multiple sources, Pat Forde reports the background check on Freeze was extensive. In addition, Auburn hired a P.R. consultant to handle any expected blowback in hiring Freeze.

Per the report:

  • They are jumping through a lot of hoops for Freeze. As one source with Auburn ties said Sunday, “If he’s contractually obligated to stay off social media and they had to hire an ‘Oh S---’ firm before he even started, is hiring him really a good idea?”

The negative feedback has already begun. Auburn football’s official Facebook page posted the hiring of Freeze and was met with some nasty comments aimed at Freeze.

As of late Monday night, Freeze’s Twitter was active. The account re-tweeted Auburn’s official announcement and re-tweeted former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s congratulations.

Earlier in the evening, though, it was tweeted that he wasn’t on the account.

Freeze’s past has become a hot topic in the hours following his hiring at Auburn.

Freeze resigned from Ole Miss in 2017 after it was found he had made at least 12 phone calls to escort services using a university phone, a detail raised as a potential issue in a discussion between the university’s legal counsel and the attorney for former Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt, who was suing the school.

Freeze told ESPN that he denies making such a call.

In addition, a week after Freeze resigned from Ole Miss, former students at Briarcrest Christian - where he started his coaching career - shared stories of inappropriate behavior.

On Monday, Auburn athletic director John Cohen announced the move after what he called a “well-vetted search.” Freeze went 34-15 in four seasons at Liberty.

Former Liberty student Chelsea Andrews was not part of that vetting process.

Andrews is a sexual assault survivor. She tweeted in July about Freeze, the former Liberty head football coach, sending her an unsolicited direct message defending his boss, Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw.

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.

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Auburn to introduce Hugh Freeze as head coach Tuesday morning: How to watch

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 7:45 a.m.|Published: Nov. 28, 2022, 10:23 p.m.
~3 minutes

Hugh Freeze’s first public appearance as Auburn’s head coach will come less than 24 hours after he accepted the job.

Freeze will be introduced at Auburn on Tuesday at 10 a.m. during an introductory press conference held inside the program’s new Woltosz Football Performance Center. Freeze’s introductory press conference will be the first official event held in the new $91.9 million complex, which was recently completed and will see the team move in to in the near future.

Read more Auburn football: Alabama HS coaches hope to build relationship with Hugh Freeze, Auburn

Goodman: Auburn signals win at all costs with hiring of Hugh Freeze

Chelsea Andrews: Auburn never asked about Hugh Freeze messages defending Liberty’s Ian McCaw

The press conference will be streamed live on the official Facebook page of Auburn athletics as well as on ESPN platforms. AL.com will also carry a live stream of Freeze’s remarks, live updates from his press conference, and full coverage from his introduction on the Plains, so be sure to stay tuned to AL.com/auburnfootball for all the latest stories and analysis.

Auburn announced the hiring of Freeze on Monday evening, tabbing him to become the 28th full-time head coach in program history. He comes to Auburn after spending the last four seasons at Liberty, where he went 34-15 and won at least eight games in each of his four seasons in Lynchburg, Va.

This will be Freeze’s third stint in the SEC and his second as a coach in the league. He previously served as head coach at Ole Miss from 2012-16 before resigning in July 2017 amid scandal after then-Rebels athletics director Ross Bjork said the university found a “concerning pattern” of behavior that was “not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program.”

Freeze brings with him an 83-43 record (not accounting for wins vacated by the NCAA) in 10 seasons as an FBS coach at Arkansas State, Ole Miss and Liberty as he replaces Bryan Harsin, who was fired on Oct. 31, after less than two seasons on the Plains. Freeze also brings with him the baggage of a complicated coaching career on and off the field as he tries to revive Auburn’s football program.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Hugh Freeze in position to succeed quickly at Auburn amid modern college football landscape

Dennis Dodd
5–7 minutes

Hugh Freeze didn't so much return to college football's biggest stage Monday as big-time college football came around to Hugh Freeze.

After five years away from the Power Five, the best to ever to coach a game in person from a hospital bed is back in the SEC at a familiar, highly resourced landing spot known for doing whatever it takes to win. This one just happens to be named Auburn.

It could have been any number of schools that brought Freeze back in this age of NIL rights and the transfer portal.

Most of what led to NCAA rules violations during Freeze's time at Ole Miss are now easily worked around either through regulations the NCAA has implemented or practices it is unwilling to prosecute.

Freeze's Ole Miss program was put on probation in 2017 and received a two-year bowl ban in the process. At the time, the NCAA said Ole Miss "fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement."

Well, that will win you a national championship these days.

While that's not to diminish the fact that NCAA rules existed and Freeze blatantly broke them -- creating a major scandal in the process -- it does show how far college football has shifted in the time since he's been away from the SEC.

In taking over Auburn, it starts with the Tigers' NIL war chest. Auburn collective On to Victory has reportedly raised $13 million in first few months of operation to help compensate players. That makes it one of the strongest in the nation. It's all legal until the NCAA or Congress says it is not.

Don't hold your breath that either will hand down such a decision. The NCAA is deregulating and slinking into the background as an enforcer Congress has far bigger fish to fry.

As such, Freeze becomes an asset in talent acquisition. We know he can coach. Just watch him procure recruits and transfers with a cash howitzer. It's one of the reasons Freeze makes perfect sense as the Tigers' Plan B after Plan A (Lane Kiffin) didn't work out.

With players this close to unionizing or engaging in collective bargaining, the first conference to break off a piece of its massive media rights revenues for the work force will own the recruiting landscape. Try to bet against the SEC being the first. Don't be surprised if Freeze isn't among the first to creatively weaponize player acquisition.

College football coaches everywhere are whining about how hard it is to do their jobs these days. Freeze was willing to crawl to Auburn over broken shards of glass. This was a comeback that might never have been if college athletics didn't move right into Freeze's wheelhouse.

In other words: Modern college football has been tailored to him.

About 3 ½ months before the NCAA hammer came down on the Ole Miss program for violations under Freeze's watch, the coach resigned from his position after it was discovered he had made inappropriate calls on a school-issued mobile device to a phone number "associated with a female escort service."

While that was "totally unrelated to the NCAA matter," as an Ole Miss lawyer said at the time, it moved standing by Freeze from difficult to impossible when those missteps were combined with the skirting of NCAA rules.

More than five years later, it's left up to the consumer to decide where to draw the line.

For a while, college administrators drew that line at Hugh Freeze. On Monday, Auburn erased it.

What's changed is not Freeze as a coach. Not after serving some sort of de facto deportation at Liberty where he went a respectable 34-15 in four seasons and sent quarterback Malik Willis to the NFL. When the time was right, Freeze was always going to find another Power Five job.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has obviously cleared Freeze's return to his conference. This after Sankey reportedly "encouraged" Alabama not to hire Freeze for a coordinator position a couple years ago.

Freeze previously said he had resolved his personal misdeeds. He still needs some coaching on his self-destructive habit of starting online spats over perceived slights -- at least one of which has been made public -- but that's for Auburn's HR department to handle.

Perhaps Freeze as Plan B isn't as desirable as the clear Plan A, but Kiffin flatly turned down Auburn. It was time to move on, and there wasn't an obvious Plan C. The last thing Auburn needed was more dysfunction that an elongated coaching search would have created.

The Tigers got a proven winner and recruiter. The only other active coach walking the planet to have beaten Nick Saban at least twice (Gus Malzahn) also did it at Auburn. Malzahn also returns to the Power Five next year with UCF in the Big 12.

Freeze now becomes part of a coaching armada seeking to take over post-Saban when the great Alabama coach eventually retires. Maybe they can outlast him, starting in the SEC West with Kiffin, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher and LSU's Brian Kelly. At 53, Freeze becomes the second-youngest of those Saban challengers in the West behind Kiffin (47).

The rules are new and dripping with potential. Some schools have been forced to make a choice in the NIL era: put money into facilities or or players. Auburn has the resources to do both. It is painfully aware it remains the other program in the state scratching hard 24/7/365 against the behemoth in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

On Monday, for one day at least, Auburn and Freeze stole the headlines.

That's a start.

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Contract details emerge for Auburn’s new head coach

Taylor Jones
~2 minutes


After a 28-day search, Auburn athletics director John Cohen has found his guy.

Auburn University officially announced the hiring of Hugh Freeze on Monday, replacing Bryan Harsin, who went 9-12 during a season and a half on the Plains.

Now that the hire has been made, one of the many questions that cross Auburn fans’ minds is “how much will Freeze make?” That question appears to have been answered by ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Thamel reports that Freeze is set to make $6.5 million per season over six years, which is an increase from what his predecessor, Bryan Harsin made for the same contract length, which was $5.3 million per season.

Due to Liberty being a private institution, his contract details with his previous program are not open for public knowledge. However, Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated reports that Freeze’s buyout from Liberty will only set Auburn back $3 million.

As for Harsin, Auburn is set to play 70% of his remaining contract, which is approximately $15.8 million. Half of that is set to be paid before Nov. 30, and the remainder will be paid in four installments according to Brandon Marcello of 247Sports. Marcello also says that Auburn is still paying Gus Malzahn’s $21.5 million buyout following his dismissal in 2020.


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By hiring Hugh Freeze, Auburn football embraces a new creed: Just win, baby | Toppmeyer

Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY NETWORK
6–7 minutes

The Auburn Creed consists of 179 words written by an alumnus who founded the university’s football program. George Petrie’s 1943 writing, embraced by the university as a sacred doctrine, touches on such virtues as hard work, lawfulness and truthfulness.

With apology to Petrie, a revision is in order.

Auburn’s creed can be succinctly restated in three words, as the Tigers enter the Hugh Freeze era:

Just win, baby.

Auburn now employs a football coach, Freeze, who resigned from his last SEC job while embroiled in scandals, and a basketball coach, Bruce Pearl, who was fired from his previous job following NCAA investigation and served a three-year show-cause penalty for lying to investigators about improper recruiting tactics.

What’s all this about truthfulness?

Just win, baby.

Pearl wins. Freeze wins. Each found a home in Auburn.

As a football coach, as a recruiter, as a personality, I believe Freeze will be a hit at Auburn, and I’ve believed that since the day this job opened.

Freeze is everything Bryan Harsin isn’t. He’s a proven winner inside and outside the SEC. He’s armed with Southern charm. He’ll recruit his tail off, he’ll upgrade the roster and he’ll cozy up to boosters who fund NIL collectives.

TOPPMEYER: If Hugh Freeze becomes Auburn football coach, his first task is obvious

MORE ON THE HIRE: Why Hugh Freeze left Ole Miss, and what it means for Auburn football

WHO IS HUGH FREEZE?: That depends on who you ask

I will not defend Freeze’s moral character. That’s for Freeze and the people who hired him to do.

Auburn athletics director John Cohen described this search as “well-vetted.” It better have been, because Freeze will arrive with enough baggage to fill a church van.

Freeze took Ole Miss on a shooting-star ride of success before he resigned in 2017 while juggling a professional scandal in one hand and a personal one in the other.

Freeze will tell you he’s a humbled man who learned from his mistakes. I do not know whether that is true.

I do know he’s a successful coach, and successful coaches usually find a home in the SEC, where the first rule resembles Auburn’s new creed: Just. Win. More.

Freeze beat Nick Saban twice at Ole Miss, and he coached the Rebels to consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances. His innovative offense made the Rebels so disruptive in the SEC West that he inspired Saban to modernize Alabama’s approach.

Freeze’s conduct off the field became his downfall. He failed to monitor an Ole Miss staff that flouted NCAA rules, resulting in a two-year bowl ban, and he called escorts with his university-provided cell phone.

Following his resignation, a 2017 USA TODAY report quoted women who said that, while they were students at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, where Freeze worked in the 1990s and early 2000s, Freeze’s behavior while carrying out disciplinary action made them feel uncomfortable.

Freeze denied those allegations and described his behavior at Briarcrest as professional.

Freeze is a loose cannon on Twitter, joining Pearl in that regard.

Earlier this year, Liberty reportedly settled a Title IX lawsuit that alleged the university mishandled sexual assault cases. The lawsuit did not involve Freeze. But after one of the plaintiffs tweeted criticism of Liberty's employment of Freeze and athletics director Ian McCaw, who resigned from Baylor amid its own university sexual assault scandal, Freeze sent the woman a message defending McCaw.

HIRING BACKLASH:How some Auburn football fans tried to derail Hugh Freeze hire

Freeze is allowed to support his boss, but messaging the woman points to his reputation for being thin-skinned. Sports Illustrated, citing sources, reported that Freeze will surrender control of his social media after becoming Auburn's coach. Smart move. A smarter move would be deleting his Twitter account.

If your moral compass tells you Auburn should not do business with Freeze, I won’t argue, but I have not seen enough evidence to consider him unhireable within an industry that is not known for restricting its hires to individuals of impeccable moral fiber.

As Auburn legend Charles Barkley once declared, not everyone in athletics should be your role model.

Freeze’s Ole Miss conduct earned him a timeout. He spent two seasons out of coaching, then the last four seasons at Liberty.

I do not believe calling escort services should mandate a lifetime ban from the SEC. As for Ole Miss’ NCAA misconduct under Freeze, we’re now in era in which players are openly compensated by booster-funded collectives.

Considering Ole Miss’ recruiting transgressions an irreparable black eye for Freeze in this free-wheeling NIL frontier would be akin to thinking a coach who runs the wing-T is suited for modern-day college football.

Plus, shall I remind you once more that Auburn also employs Pearl? When you live in Auburn’s glass house, you don’t get to throw stones.

Do not confuse this as a hall pass for Freeze’s future conduct.

Freeze will be under a more powerful microscope at Auburn than he was at either Ole Miss or Liberty.

At Auburn, Freeze must win, and he must not get caught with his pants down.

And he must win some more.

Auburn’s revised creed demands it.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.

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  • aubiefifty changed the title to 11/29/22 Auburn Articles

Hugh Freeze denies he had to give up control of Twitter account at Auburn

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:59 a.m.|Published: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:54 a.m.
3–4 minutes

  1. Auburn Football

Hugh Freeze denies report he had to relinquish control of Twitter account with Auburn

Hugh Freeze

Mississippi NCAA college football coach Hugh Freeze speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering, Thursday, July 13, 2017, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)AP

Hugh Freeze denied a report that he agreed to relinquish control of his social media accounts upon accepting the head coaching position at Auburn.

On Monday evening, after Auburn announced the hiring of Freeze, Sports Illustrated reported that Freeze agreed to hand over control of his accounts. Freeze has been known in the past to reach out to critics on Twitter in particular, including a well-documented instance involving a former Liberty student.

“That’s not accurate,” Freeze said of the Sports Illustrated report. “I mean, how could you in this day and time?”

While denying the report, Freeze admitted there “may be wisdom in” the notion of ceding control of his accounts and staying off social media.

Along with his track record of reaching out to critics on social media, Freeze garnered attention this summer after Chelsea Andrews, a former Liberty student and plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the university for its mishandling of sexual assault claims and Title IX cases, posted a screenshot of an unsolicited direct message from Freeze. Andrews has been a prominent critic of Liberty leadership, including Flames athletics director Ian McCaw, the disgraced former Baylor athletics director who oversaw the Bears’ programs during the sexual assault scandal in Waco, Texas.

In one of the messages to Andrews, Freeze defended McCaw and called him the “most Jesus-like leader” he has been around. AL.com reviewed the messages received by Andrews, who also said this week that she was not contacted by Auburn leadership during the vetting process for hiring Freeze.

Though Freeze’s Twitter account has been active since being named Auburn’s head coach on Monday—he quote-tweeted former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who congratulated him on the job, and also shared a tweet expressing excitement for the opportunity on the Plains—the 53-year-old coach added that he himself has not spent much time on Twitter the last several weeks. A tweet shared by his daughter, Ragan Freeze Reynolds, on Monday night also noted that Freeze has not been active on social media recently.

As a result, Freeze said he was also unaware of “the magnitude of backlash” that his hiring generated online.

“Believe it or not, I really just haven’t been on any social media the last three or four weeks,” Freeze said. “I have an account, but somebody else has been running it.”

While someone else has been running his account, Freeze maintained that he did not relinquish control of his online presence.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

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Hugh Freeze hopes Nick Saban’s ‘a little nervous’

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:19 a.m.|Published: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:15 a.m.
~2 minutes

Nick Saban opposing coaches

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze and Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban talk before the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (Mark Almond/malmond@al.com)

The Iron Bowl was Saturday but new Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze is already in the spirit of things.

Taking questions at his introductory news conference Tuesday, Freeze was asked about the Alabama rivalry and facing Nick Saban.

The former Ole Miss coach said he welcomes that challenge while saying “I really, really, really enjoy that type of game.”

He then turned to his relationship with Saban and his family.

“I have a great respect for Nick and he and Miss Terry have been really good friends to us too,” he said before a quick pause. “But I hope they’re a little nervous today.”

He smiled as the room broke out in laughter.

Alabama plays at Auburn on Nov. 25, 2023 in the next Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Crimson Tide won its third straight over Auburn, 49-27, on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Freeze twice beat Alabama in his five years at Ole Miss, though the 2014 win was later vacated by the NCAA.

He was also 3-2 in Egg Bowl games against Mississippi State but two of those wins were among the 33 vacated after the NCAA determined Ole Miss used ineligible players.

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

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Will Hugh Freeze call plays as Auburn’s head coach?

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:00 a.m.|Published: Nov. 29, 2022, 10:50 a.m.
~2 minutes

Hugh Freeze has called plays throughout his head coaching career, but that could change now that he’s at Auburn.

Freeze was asked Tuesday during his introductory press conference about whether he plans to be the Tigers’ primary play-caller this season, and the 53-year-old offensive whiz said it remains to be seen -- though he is considering ceding some power on that front.

““I’ve called the plays my whole career,” Freeze said. “I honestly am sitting here today contemplating... maybe I should get some help with that.”

Freeze says he plans to move quickly in putting together his coaching staff once he wraps up with Tuesday’s planned events. That includes offensive coordinator, of course. He said he has received a plethora of text messages from “big-time” coaches from across the country who have expressed interest in working with him at Auburn, and he will work through those candidates as he assembles his staff.

In the current landscape of college football, and the various hats Freeze will have to wear as head coach, he is considering handing over play-calling duties, at least in some capacity.

“Maybe I should get some help in that,” Freeze said. “... When I watch some of (those candidates’) games, I think I could really help them with the red-zone, and they can really help us with everything else. And so, I’m right now looking forward to some of those discussions with these candidates.”

AL.com will update this post.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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Auburn players react to reports of Hugh Freeze becoming Tigers’ head coach

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 11:02 a.m.|Published: Nov. 28, 2022, 6:10 p.m.
~2 minutes

Auburn named Hugh Freeze as the head football coach on Monday, causing a fast and furious set of responses from current and former Tiger athletes on Twitter.

Freeze led Liberty to a 35-14 record during the 2019-2022 seasons. His work with former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis in 2021 is one of Freeze’s best accomplishments.

Auburn starting quarterback Robby Ashford is often compared to Willis for his dynamic running ability and a strong arm.

Read More Auburn Football: Alabama HS coaches hope to build relationship with Hugh Freeze, Auburn

What Auburn AD, president said about hiring Hugh Freeze

What was new Auburn coach Hugh Freeze accused of? Sexual misconduct, personal misconduct allegations

Is it possible that Freeze could unlock the potential in the Oregon transfer? Ashford, who rushed for over 100 yards against Alabama in the Iron Bowl loss, seems to believe in Freeze.

Will Herring played at Auburn from 2003-06 and got drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2007 NFL Draft as a fifth-rounder. The Opelika native spoke out in favor of Freeze.

Kerryon Johnson, who starred as a running back for the Tigers from 2015-18, didn’t share Herring’s opinions on the Freeze hire.

Darren Bates is a former linebacker at Auburn who went to the Saint Louis Rams in 2013 as an undrafted player after finishing college. He’s in favor of Freeze.

Marquis Burks is a defensive lineman at Auburn. He went with a simple approach to welcome Freeze.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

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'It's going to be deadly': What Auburn football's Robby Ashford, Hugh Freeze said about each other

Richard Silva, Montgomery Advertiser
~3 minutes

AUBURN — One of the biggest accomplishments of coach Hugh Freeze's tenure at Liberty was the acquisition and development of former Auburn football quarterback Malik Willis.

Willis, a former three-star quarterback, began his collegiate career on the Plains in 2017. He spent two years with the Tigers and only attempted 14 passes, but everything changed when he transferred to Liberty to play under Freeze. After two seasons with the Flames, Willis was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford, who has a similar skillset to Willis, is looking forward to working with Freeze, the Tigers' new coach.

PLAYCALLING DUTIES:Will Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze call plays next season? Maybe, maybe not.

INTRODUCTION:'These people are special': Hugh Freeze introduced as Auburn football's next coach

"I've been praying for this," Ashford said Tuesday after Freeze's introductory news conference. "I was like, 'If I get coach Freeze, it's going to be deadly.' ... I've seen what he's done in the past. He's a winner. He's a proven winner. And then Malik (Willis), that's my guy, just to see what he did with him was just awesome.

"He's playing for the Tennessee Titans now, I talked to him yesterday. It's just like, wow, you see the development he had. ... I feel like it can only help me just become a better quarterback. I feel like me and coach Freeze are going to be a great dynamic duo. I'm excited."

Freeze was asked about Ashford and said he is 'intrigued' by the quarterback.

“When I watched Robby’s last game, I think I told (athletics director) John (Cohen) this, that he’s got me intrigued now," Freeze said. "I knew he could run around and obviously that’s very positive, but I saw him make some throws in that game. There was one particular in the right corner of the end zone. That was a really, really, really difficult pass, and it was beautifully done. I do think I have a gift to help develop quarterbacks. If you look at everywhere we’ve been, we’ve had pretty good success with that."

Richard Silva is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at rsilva@gannett.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: What Auburn football's Robby Ashford, Hugh Freeze said about each other

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