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11/30/22 Auburn Articles


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ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic reacts to hiring of Hugh Freeze

Carly Laing
2–3 minutes

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a new era for Auburn Football as Hugh Freeze officially takes over the team as head coach.

Many Auburn fans have been desperate for change and that change is finally here. Auburn made the announcement Tuesday morning and Tigers fans are sharing their thoughts on the new hire on social media.

Freeze comes from Liberty and has a pretty good track record on the field but some dark clouds loom when it comes to actions off the field. Freeze left the SEC after resigning from Ole Miss for NCAA violations and using a university cell phone to call escort services.

CBS 42’s Carly Laing talked with ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic, a radio host at WJOX 94.5 and former Auburn football player. He said change always comes with mixed emotions but he believes this hire could be beneficial for the Tigers’ program long-term.

“From the top, the very top I think this is strong alignment and maybe more than we’ve seen in a long time. I think that will allow for longer-term sustainability and I think with everything else that’s in place Hugh Freeze has a chance to get talent and Hugh Freeze can coach talent,” Cubelic said. “So, my opinion on it is there’s a very good chance that Hugh Freeze can win a lot of football games at Auburn. I think that there’s a very good chance that Hugh Freeze can be the head coach at Auburn for an extended period of time. All that put together, if you can get 8, 9, 10 years out of a guy, and he can win the majority of the games that he coaches, I think you would look at that at the end of the tenure and say that’s a good hire.”

Also during Tuesday’s announcement, Carnell Williams was promoted to associate head coach for the Tigers. Williams captured the hearts of fans over the last few games, going two and two under his leadership. Cubelic said having him stay on staff is a big win for players, fans and the program.

Cubelic said the work for the next season starts now and coach Freeze is ready to get to work.

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Freeze’s first priority as Auburn head coach to retain Carnell Williams

  • AUBURN, Ala. – New Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze hasn't even hit the road yet in recruiting, and he's already landed maybe the biggest catch of this cycle. 

Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. 

In fact, it was Freeze's first order of business when he accepted the job at Auburn. Shortly after the announcement was made Monday night, he met with Williams and convinced him to stay on as the associate head coach and running backs coach. 

"I don't know if I had to plead and beg, but I was planning to and went after it," Freeze said. "And I think the words were just, 'You're invaluable. I need your wisdom. I need you to tell me about the players. I need you to tell me about the building. I need you to tell me who is really vital to us getting this program back to SEC championships.'"

Williams took over as the interim head coach for Auburn on Oct. 31. As a player, he was one of the best running backs in program history. He still holds the record for most career rushing touchdowns (45). But what Williams accomplished in the final month of the season, bringing life back to the team and to the fan base, it might have been his greatest feat. 

The Tigers were 3-5 at the time and could have easily given up on the season. Williams wouldn't let them. They rallied in the second half and nearly beat Mississippi State on the road. They knocked off Texas A&M and Western Kentucky at home, sending the seniors out with wins in their final two games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. And he re-energized a fan base and gave the Auburn Family something to be proud of again.
It made an impact on Freeze, too, who alluded to the job Williams had done at the beginning of his opening remarks in Tuesday's introductory press conference. 

"Being in this profession, I know how hard it is to finish seasons even when you're doing well," Freeze said. "Much less finishing a season playing with enthusiasm and passion and desire and excitement and having fun like what I witnessed when I turned on the Auburn football games. To me, it was a direct reflection of Cadillac and his leadership and how he led the staff and those young men. I thought it was a brilliant job.

"I knew my first priority (as head coach) was I have to have Cadillac along my side to help me drive the culture of Auburn football." 

It might not have been a tough sell with Williams, an Auburn man, who penned a letter Tuesday morning to the fans, administrators, coaches, players and his family thanking them for the support and the opportunity to lead the Auburn program. 

Now it's Williams' turn to support Freeze and work with him to bring Auburn back. 

"It has always been my desire to remain at Auburn," Williams said in the letter. "Last night, I was able to meet with Coach Freeze where he shared his core values and vision for the football program and young men he will be coaching. He is a man of faith, and we share many of the same values when it comes to coaching. I am excited about his vision and plan for getting Auburn back to its winning ways, including winning championships."
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History says Auburn, Freeze will be fine

4–5 minutes

Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Hugh Freeze’s hiring at Auburn was received with mixed feelings by the fans.

Some fans opened their heart to him, and apparently some think five years wasn’t a long enough sentence.

What those fans are thinking about is a misdeed that his wife and family forgave, but what most likely kept him out of the SEC was the “lack of institutional control” the NCAA hit him with while coaching at Ole Miss.

Now some of his infractions are legal. Paying players, thanks to the Supreme Court, is the rule now.

Freeze has some work to do with some of the fan base, but he faces a mountain of a challenge in dealing with the boosters who seem to make all the calls at Auburn.

As for football, if history is any indication of the future, he and the Tigers will be just fine.

He can recruit and if you need a reminder of his coaching abilities, you didn’t watch Liberty come to Fayetteville on the first Saturday of this month and get a win.

Freeze is the third consecutive head football coach Auburn has hired who spent time as the head coach at Arkansas State, and he left a lot of friends in Jonesboro.

One of the first thing Freeze did was hire Carnell “Cadillac” Williams as associate head coach, something even his detractors were happy about that.

Freeze’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, has gotten into representing assistant coaches, so he’ll probably have no problem putting together a top shelf staff.

His biggest chore will be keeping the rich folks happy, something none of the coaches have been able to do for almost three decades.

Winning at a program that went from proud to a dumpster fire is very important, and Freeze knows how to win.


The bowl situation seems to be getting serious.

One prediction has Ole Miss dropping to the Music City Bowl after losing to Mississippi State, which may have played itself into Gator Bowl.

South Carolina closed its regular season in an orange kind of way, beating Tennessee 63-38 and then stunning Clemson 31-30. The Gamecocks have jumped up to the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, previously called the Outback Bowl.

Arkansas apparently is on the list of several bowls and a big part of that is the great fan base the Razorbacks have.

An interesting matchup could be the Razorbacks taking on Baylor in the Liberty Bowl or meeting UCLA in Las Vegas.

Everything is speculation until Sunday night when the official bowl bids go out, which is the same day football players can officially enter the transfer portal.


Someone always gets left out the four-team College Football Playoffs, and when it expands there will still be teams who believe they deserved in but were forgotten.

This year that ignored team might be Ohio State, whose only loss, albeit a beatdown, was to Michigan which needs only to get its heads out of the clouds and beat Purdue to be in the Final Four.

There is one team that could throw a huge monkey wrench into the CFB workings: LSU.

If the Tigers knock off No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, it could mean the end of a dynasty. There has always been a SEC team in the playoffs, but how could the committee take Georgia if it loses to the Tigers, who have three losses including last Saturday’s stinker to last-place Texas A&M?

In its past two games, LSU was looking backwards at Alabama when it played Arkansas and when it went to College Station, it was looking ahead to this week.

If Brian Kelly gets his team focused again, it is capable of beating Georgia if the Bulldogs are not mentally ready.

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Future Tiger Tracker: Several Auburn commits in the hunt for state titles

Christian Clemente

5–7 minutes




Seasons are coming to a close as National Signing Day — and potential state championships — inch closer. Unfortunately for Auburn's commits, several dropped out of the playoffs this week, ending their seasons.

Still, though, Auburn has several commits chasing a state title including one playing on Wednesday inside Jordan-Hare.

Follow the future and see how Auburn's commits performed last week and what's up next:

Jeremiah Cobb — RB

In the rematch with Andalusia (Ala.), it was Andalusia coming out on top this time, with Montgomery Catholic (Ala.) and Cobb dropping out of the playoffs after a 29-26 loss. Full stats have not been shared, but Cobb was responsible for a pair of touchdowns.

Season stats (THROUGH 13 GAMES): 154 carries, 1,837 yards, 21 TDs (12 YPC) | 16 receptions, 373 yards, 5 TDs

Montgomery Catholic Knights: 13-1

Adam Hopkins — WR

Hopkins and Thomas County Central (Ga.) also dropped out of the playoffs, falling to Roswell (Ga.) 42-34. Hopkins caught five passes for 71 yards in the loss.

Season stats: N/A

Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets: 12-1

Daquayvious Sorey — WR

The third Auburn commit to drop out of the playoffs, Sorey and Chipley (Fla.) lost 42-6 to Northview (Fla.). Stats have not been shared from the game.

Season stats (THROUGH 10 GAMES): 52 receptions, 1,012 yards, 15 TDs | 12 carries, 93 yards | 16 tackles

Chipley Tigers: 11-1

Darron Reed — DL

Auburn's most recent commit also dropped out of the playoffs on Friday night, with Carver-Columbus (Ga.) losing 14-6 to Oconee County (Ga.). Full stats have not been shared, but Auburn Undercover was in attendance for the game, with Reed recording several tackles for loss and quarterback hurries.

Season stats: N/A

Carver Tigers: 9-3

Clay Wedin — OL

Auburn's offensive line commit and Carrollwood Day's (Fla.) season ended at Clearwater Central Catholic (Fla.) by a score of 21-11.

Season stats: N/A

Carrollwood Day Patriots: 6-4

Terrance Love — S

Love and Langston Hughes (Ga.) won the third round of the playoffs 56-28 against a talented Woodward Academy (Ga.) team. Love recorded seven tackles and an interception.

Langston Hughes has Rome (Ga.) in round four of the playoffs.

Season stats: 51 tackles, 2 INT, 1 TD, 1 PBU | 8 receptions, 188 yards, 3 TD

Langston Hughes Panthers: 13-0

Keyone Jenkins — QB

Auburn's 3-star quarterback commit from Miami Central (Fla.) took down Norland (Fla.) 34-20. Stats have not been shared from the game.

The next round of the playoffs is at home against 9-4 Lakewood (Fla.).

Season stats (through 10 games): 91-for-146 (62 %), 1,565 yards, 22 TDs, 3 INT | 26 carries, 148 yards, 4 TDs

Miami Central Rockets: 12-0

Ashley Williams — edge

Zachary (La.) and Williams gutted out a win against Southside (La.) on Friday night by a score of 48-37. 

Round four is a matchup with 12-1 Ruston (La.).

Season stats: 49 tackles, 11 sacks, 9 TFL, 2 PD, 1 FF

Zachary Broncos: 10-2

Jamarrion Harkless — DT

Harkless and Frederick Douglass (Ky.) took down Owensboro (Ky.) 14-2 on Friday night to continue the undefeated season and playoff run. Stats have not been shared from the game.

Next up is the state championship on Dec. 3 against 12-2 Bowling Green (Ky.).

Season stats: N/A

Frederick Douglass Broncos: 14-0

Wilky Denaud — DL

John Carroll Catholic (Fla.) and Denaud won in the second round, taking down Lakeland Christian (Fla.) 14-7. Stats have not been shared from the game.

8-2 Trinity Catholic (Fla.) is round three.

Season stats: N/A

John Carroll Catholic Rams: 10-1

Bradyn Joiner — IOL

Auburn High (Ala.) will face Thompson (Ala.) on Wednesday inside Jordan-Hare for the 7A state title.

Season stats: N/A

Auburn High Tigers: 12-1

JC Hart — CB

Hart's senior season ended in the second round of the playoffs.

Loachapoka finished 9-2.

Season stats: N/A

A'Mon Lane — 2024 CB

Lane and Moody (Ala.) dropped out of the playoffs in round two.

Season stats: N/A

Moody Blue Devils: 10-2

Adrian Posse — 2024 QB


Auburn's junior quarterback commit missed the playoffs, finishing the year at 3-7.

Season stats: N/A


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Hugh Freeze apologizes for unsolicited DMs to former Liberty student

Updated: Nov. 29, 2022, 8:00 p.m.|Published: Nov. 29, 2022, 7:35 p.m.

4–5 minutes

Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze speaks during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 29 2022 in Auburn, Ala. Todd Van Emst/AU AthleticsTodd Van Emst/AU Athletics/AU At

Auburn coach Hugh Freeze apologized Tuesday for the controversial unsolicited direct messages he sent to a former Liberty student over the summer.

In an interview with ESPN.com’s Chris Low, Freeze was asked about the multiples messages he sent in July to Chelsea Andrews, a former Liberty student who was among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the university regarding its handling of sexual assault claims and Title IX cases. Andrews, a sexual assault survivor, is an outspoken critic of Liberty leadership, including Flames athletics director Ian McCaw. She was messaged by Freeze regarding her criticism of McCaw, the disgraced former Baylor athletics director who resigned at Baylor in 2016 as a result of that program’s sexual assault scandal.

Read more Auburn football: AD John Cohen: Hugh Freeze ‘completely transparent’ during Auburn search

Cadillac Williams ‘disappointed’ but ‘not upset’ after interviewing for Auburn head coaching job

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

In his messages to Andrews, Freeze called McCaw the “most Jesus-like leader” he has been around. McCaw hired Freeze at Liberty in December 2018. Freeze was not at Liberty at the time Andrews was assaulted.

“I learned from this situation that I should totally understand other people’s circumstances first before communicating or commenting on someone’s situation,” Freeze told ESPN. “It was an inadvertent misstep with no ill intent, and I am sorry.”

Freeze’s July interactions with Andrews were thrust into the spotlight in recent days as Auburn zeroed in on the 53-year-old former Ole Miss coach for its head coaching vacancy. After reports surfaced Saturday morning that Freeze was Auburn’s top target once Lane Kiffin reaffirmed his commitment to Ole Miss, Andrews sent an email to Auburn administrators, including athletics director John Cohen and university president Dr. Chris Roberts, to express her concerns about Freeze’s candidacy. Andrews shared a screenshot of her email online, and a large swath of Auburn fans and others followed suit with similar emails to Auburn leadership sharing their own thoughts on the matter.

It led to sizeable backlash online that hit a crescendo Monday when Freeze was announced as Auburn’s head coach. Andrews said she was not contacted by Auburn about the direct messages during the university’s vetting process, which Cohen described as “thoughtful and thorough.” Freeze, for his part, said Tuesday during his introductory press conference that he was unaware of the extent of the blowback.

“Truthfully, I really don’t know the magnitude of backlash because, believe it or not, I just haven’t been on any social media in the last three or four weeks,” Freeze said. “... Look, I’ve come to grips with everybody doesn’t know me, everybody doesn’t care to get to know me, and everybody has an opinion — and they’re entitled to that. All I ask is that the ones I care about is the Auburn family and the players and the administration and my family; that’s the ones that matter, and that’s the ones I’m saying take the time to get to know us, and as with anyone, all of us have made a mistake before, and I think how we have handled it as a family and how I’ve handled it as owning it and moving forward and playing the next play and working to get better and learn from it, that’s all I can do. I’ll continue to do that every single day.”

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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Robby Ashford is 'excited' to work under Hugh Freeze

Taylor Jones
~2 minutes

It is safe to say that most players on Auburn’s roster are thrilled about the opportunity to play under Hugh Freeze. One player, in particular, is quarterback Robby Ashford.

After Freeze’s introductory press conference on Tuesday, Ashford took time to share his thoughts on the hire with reporters on the scene. Ashford says that he did plenty of research on Freeze during the hiring process.

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“During the search just seeing his track record and what he has done, I was thinking this is the coach I want to play for,” Ashford said Tuesday.

One aspect of Freeze’s game that excites Ashford is his track record of developing quarterbacks. Former Auburn quarterback Malik Willis transferred to Liberty after failing to earn the top job at Auburn. Under Freeze’s direction, Willis passed for 5,107 yards and 47 touchdowns in two seasons. He then went on to be drafted 86th overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Once the news of Freeze’s hiring became official, Ashford called Willis to talk about his new coach. Following the conversation, Ashford became more intrigued by Freeze’s history of developing quarterbacks.

“Me being close to Malik, just being able to see how he developed and what he is doing now, why would I not want to play for a guy like that?” Ashford said.

Ashford also says that he feels that he will get along fine with Freeze and that he wants Freeze to know that the players will bring the same energy and attitude that Freeze will bring every day.

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Auburn coaching search: Why Tigers hired Hugh Freeze after missing out on Lane Kiffin

Zac Al-Khateeb
6–8 minutes

Auburn on Monday hired former Ole Miss and Liberty coach Hugh Freeze to lead the Tigers' program. ESPN's Pete Thamel reported that Freeze received a six-year contract worth $6.5 million a year. 

The hiring makes sense considering Freeze is one of the top offensive minds in college football and has spent the last four seasons coaching the Flames to unprecedented success. That said, he reportedly was not Auburn athletic director John Cohen's first choice.

Mike Vrabel: Eagles are 'best team in the National Football League' right now

That distinction goes to current Rebels coach Lane Kiffin. A report ahead of Rivalry Week indicated that Kiffin would take over at Auburn following the Egg Bowl, though that quickly unraveled as the coach himself denied the reports.

So now the Tigers have Freeze, who has been widely reported to be the team's second choice behind Kiffin. He is the team's third head coach since 2018. The school fired Gus Malzahn after the 2020 season and his successor, Bryan Harsin, during the 2022 campaign.

— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) November 28, 2022

MORE: Why Tigers reportedly moved on from Lane Kiffin to target Hugh Freeze

Here's everything you need to know about Auburn's hiring of Freeze, and the circumstances that led to him becoming the Tigers' coach:

Why did Auburn hire Hugh Freeze?

The simplest answer is because Auburn was unable to land Kiffin. That said, Freeze has long been considered a candidate to return to the SEC, not only for his offensive coaching prowess but also because of the success he sustained at Ole Miss and Liberty.

Freeze has just one losing season in 12 years of college head coaching. He began his career at Arkansas State in 2011, leading the Red Wolves to a 10-3 record. The following season, he took over at Ole Miss, and he improved the Rebels' record every year through 2015, culminating in a 10-win season and the team's first Sugar Bowl victory since 1970.

Year Team Record Bowl
2011 Arkansas State 10-3 GoDaddy.com Bowl (loss)
2012 Ole Miss 7-6 BBVA Compass Bowl (win)
2013 Ole Miss 8-5 Music City Bowl (win)
2014 Ole Miss 9-4 Peach Bowl (loss)
2015 Ole Miss 10-3 Sugar Bowl (win)
2016 Ole Miss 5-7 None
2019 Liberty 8-5 Cure Bowl (win)
2020 Liberty 10-1 Cure Bowl (win)
2021 Liberty 8-5 LendingTree Bowl (win)
2022 Liberty 8-3 TBD

More importantly, he became one of the few coaches to ever beat Alabama's Nick Saban in consecutive years. The Rebels upended the heavily favored Crimson Tide in 2014 and 2015. The only other coach to do that to date was former LSU coach Les Miles, who did it in 2010 and 2011.

Another facet of Auburn's decision to hire Freeze is his ability to create top-end offenses. Those typically have been the types of teams that give Saban's Alabama program the most trouble, as demonstrated in losses this season to LSU and Tennessee.

Freeze's coaching acumen was enough for Cohen to prioritize him, even amid reported pushback by those close to the program.

Hearing pushback on Auburn administration re fb hire now that Lane is staying at Ole Miss. Plan A was Lane; Plan B was Freeze. Don't know if Auburn had a Plan C. Bears watching.

— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) November 28, 2022

MORE: How Cadillac Williams went from NFL to Auburn interim head coach

Why did Lane Kiffin turn down Auburn?

Before Auburn moved its search focus to Freeze, it was widely reported that their top choice was Kiffin, who was Saban's offensive coordinator from 2014 through 2016 before taking over at Florida Atlantic and then Ole Miss.

Like Freeze, Kiffin is an offensive-oriented coach who has had a hand in some of college football's most potent offenses of the past 20-plus years. His success in that area, plus his familiarity with the SEC landscape and Saban's operating procedure at Alabama, reportedly made him Auburn's top target.

Jon Sokoloff of Columbia, Miss., news station WCBI reported Wednesday that Kiffin would step down following the Egg Bowl to take the Auburn job. The third-year Rebels coach vehemently denied that report:

That’s news to me Jon. 🤦‍♂️. Nice sources 🚫👿🪑🍽 https://t.co/P8rdpxEk0p

— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) November 22, 2022

Following the Rebels' Egg Bowl loss to Mississippi State on Thursday, Kiffin said he anticipated being Ole Miss' coach in 2023, also taking time to call out Sokoloff for his reporting:

"It was falsely reported by Jon, who is now famous. Congratulations. That you can just write whatever you want ... I would do it, too, I think," Kiffin told reporters after the game (via 247Sports). "You're never held accountable and you get to become famous ... maybe you'll be right.

"Jon did it, so then I had to have a team meeting to say his article was wrong, which I'd love to know these unnamed sources from Jon. I had to have a team meeting because of that. They don't ... when there's other stuff in chat rooms ... but when a reporter writes it, it changes the game of that."

One reported issue Kiffin had with going to Auburn was his family's desire to remain in Oxford. Regardless, Auburn's reported interest was enough to help Kiffin leverage a new, eight-year contract with an annual average of $9 million.

MORE: Why did Auburn fire Bryan Harsin?

Why did Hugh Freeze resign at Ole Miss?

Freeze resigned as Rebels coach ahead of the 2017 season, after suffering his only losing season to date the year prior.

Despite his history of success, he was forced to resign by then-athletic director Ross Bjork after it was discovered Freeze used a university-issued phone to call a Detroit number with ties to a Florida escort service.

Moreover, the NCAA found that Ole Miss had committed multiple recruiting infractions under Freeze and his predecessor, Houston Nutt. The NCAA cited Freeze in its findings for failing to monitor his assistant coaches and school boosters, but it did not give him a show-cause penalty.

The NCAA levied a two-year postseason ban, placed Ole Miss on three years' probation and upheld the school's reduction in scholarships. The Rebels also vacated 33 wins from 2010-16, 27 of which were under Freeze.

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Opinion: Hugh Freeze won the press conference

Jeremy Robuck
~3 minutes

Opinions have been mixed on the hire of Hugh Freeze, but there is no question he won several over with his opening press conference. 

If there is one word to describe Freeze today, it was humble. 

He spent what felt like the first 15 minutes talking about Carnell Williams. He praised Williams at length. He officially promoted him to associate head coach. He even seemed to take a back seat to Williams as he said he would need to be taught by him. Freeze seemed to make it clear that Williams will be a key partner and even the culture leader of Auburn going forward.

The first words spoken by Hugh Freeze were “War Eagle.” He sang the praises of Auburn, he went through every tradition, he told stories about being an Auburn dad, he cried and seemed genuinely humbled and honored to be Auburn’s head coach, and he even took shots at Ole Miss. 

Some Auburn fans may have wanted Lane Kiffin, but after watching this press conference they may be breathing a sigh of relief. It would have been a different feeling had Kiffin been behind the podium. 

Auburn’s new athletic director introduced Freeze, mentioning him as being personable, remorseful, and hard-working. He talked about Freeze being raised on a dairy farm. He also mentioned the accountability system he has been using for the last five years and his belief in who Freeze currently is.

The new Auburn head coach spent some time preaching core values that his team would have. He also discussed the portal and the belief Auburn could turn things around quickly. Freeze spent time praising Bruce Pearl. He truthfully stated that Pearl has put on a clinic in soliciting program buy-in and why positivity trumps negativity with players. Freeze said he wants to be just like him.

In summary, Freeze crushed the press conference in what felt like a win for Auburn. Williams is promoted. Auburn has a coach that seems to genuinely love Auburn and that is thrilled to be there. Freeze, who very publicly has skeletons in his closet, could not have been more humble. 

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4 minutes ago, aubiefifty said:

Loachapoka finished 9-2.

Go Loachapoka. 

I lived out there  in the early 90's when I was in grad school.  Shocked they have done so well for such a small school.

Anyone know if they still have Syrup Soppin'  out there in the fall?

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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.

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Gus Malzahn congratulates friend, former rival Hugh Freeze on landing Auburn job

Bryce Lazenby
2–3 minutes

Gus Malzahn is happy for his old friend to take over at his old school. Malzahn sent out a tweet to congratulate Hugh Freeze on landing the Auburn gig Monday evening.

Malzahn spent 8 seasons at the helm for the Tigers, compiling a 68-35 record during that time. After the 2020 season, Malzahn was fired by Auburn, ending his tenure as the 5th on Auburn’s all-time win list.

Malzahn jokingly told Freeze he has “a couple old sweater vests lying around”, referencing his famous gameday attire. Malzahn has been the coach of the UCF Knights since 2021.

Malzahn and Freeze coached against each other 4 times when Malzahn was at Auburn and Freeze was at Ole Miss. Malzahn’s team got the win in 3 of those 4 matchups.

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23 minutes ago, Quietmaninthecorner said:

Go Loachapoka. 

I lived out there  in the early 90's when I was in grad school.  Shocked they have done so well for such a small school.

Anyone know if they still have Syrup Soppin'  out there in the fall?

i have no idea grasshoppa.............gald they make you happy tho. they tore my school down and now we have the gadsden titans. and for titans they sure do get their butt kicked regularly.

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Hugh Freeze confident Auburn can turn things around 'fairly fast'

Published: Nov. 30, 2022, 7:15 a.m.

7–8 minutes

Hugh Freeze met with his new team for the first time Tuesday morning, just a few hours before he was officially introduced as Auburn’s new coach.

During that meeting with the team, which Freeze described as “incredible,” the 53-year-old coach gave his players his initial pitch for resurrecting a program that has fallen on hard times thanks to back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1998-99.

Read more Auburn football: Hugh Freeze apologizes for unsolicited DMs to former Liberty student

AD John Cohen: Hugh Freeze ‘completely transparent’ during Auburn search

Cadillac Williams ‘disappointed’ but ‘not upset’ after interviewing for Auburn head coaching job

“I shared with them how we’re going to turn this ship and get out of the wilderness here that we might be in a little bit,” Freeze said during his introductory press conference. “Every job that I’ve ever taken over has had some type of struggles prior to our arrival, and we’ve been able to turn them fairly quickly.”

Freeze experienced early success at each of the head coaching stops during his career, from NAIA program Lambuth to Arkansas State, from Ole Miss to Liberty, he has an established record of on-field success. At Lambuth, he guided the program to back-to-back NAIA playoff appearances, including a sixth-place finish in 2009.

Two years later, when he took over at Arkansas State, the Red Wolves won 10 games and a Sun Belt title a year after finishing 4-8. When he assumed the head coaching position at Ole Miss, the Rebels were coming off a two-win campaign in 2011. Freeze won seven games in his first year with the Rebels, eight the following season (though seven were eventually vacated by the NCAA), nine in 2014 (eight of them vacated) and 10 in 2015.

When he was tabbed as Liberty’s head coach after the 2018 season, the Flames were completing their transition to full-fledged FBS member. In Freeze’s first season Liberty won eight games and earned its first-ever bowl berth. The Flames finished 2020 ranked 17th in the nation and won 10 games in Freeze’s second season before winning eight games in each of his final two years with the program.

Freeze is confident that will again be the case at Auburn, where he inherits a team that went 5-7 this season, has experienced its share of adversity over in just the last two years — from coaching changes (both at the top of the program and with coordinators and position coaches) to off-field drama and on-field struggles — and will undoubtedly have a drastically different look to its roster come 2023.

While Freeze has yet to have time to evaluate Auburn’s entire roster, he’s confident he can experience similar success in a short time on the Plains, particularly with the current landscape of college football thanks to the transfer portal and NIL, which could facilitate Auburn’s efforts to close the gap between it and its rivals atop the SEC.

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“I think we can turn it fairly fast with the new world we’re in,” Freeze said. “Because I believe with the commitment that’s been shown by our fans, boosters and administration to invest in things like this that matter in recruiting and they matter in the NIL, the On To Victory fund — all that matters today. Ten years ago, you didn’t have that, so the turnaround was a little different. Kids couldn’t leave a school and come to Auburn. They can now.

“I do think we’ve got to be careful to get the right kids to fit our culture. But at the same time, it’s much easier to add to your roster now than when I was when I took over Ole Miss and they haven’t won an SEC game in two years. And obviously we were going to some New Year 6′s in Years 3 and 4. So, I see no reason why with the current structure, we can’t do this fairly fast.”

Accomplishing that will take a concerted effort by Freeze and his yet-to-be-completed staff, especially with a tight turnaround on the recruiting front. The recruiting contact period just began Monday, and the transfer portal window opens next week. The start of the early signing period is just a few weeks away, and Auburn will need to take advantage of the coming weeks to help shape its roster for Year 1 under Freeze.

The Tigers have 24 seniors, some of whom can still return thanks to the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility granted during the pandemic, but others have exhausted their eligibility or may seek to finish out their careers elsewhere. Auburn could also lose some draft-eligible juniors, such as defensive lineman Colby Wooden — who participated in senior day festivities — and running back Tank Bigsby. There’s also sure to be roster attrition, and addition, through the transfer portal; the team already had multiple players enter the portal prior to Bryan Harsin’s firing, while wide receiver Landen King withdrew his name and appears set to return next season.

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“I think Year 1, the portal will be a big priority,” Freeze said. “Again, this is without me talking to recruiting yet to kind of find out where we are with the high school recruits. I do believe in building with high school kids and filling in with the portal. Can we do that in Year 1? I’m not sure yet. So, I would anticipate it being heavier toward the portal.”

As for the high school front, Auburn has work to do between now and the early signing period, and to a lesser extent the February signing period. The Tigers picked up a couple key commitments leading up to Freeze’s hiring, flipping four-star defensive lineman Darron Reed from LSU and adding three-star Opelika edge Brenton Williams, but the class still only has 13 commitments, ranks 32nd nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings and is 10th among SEC programs.

“We’re short on time,” Freeze said. “We’ve got to get going and get going fast.”

Freeze is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him at Auburn but noted it will take “buy-in to chasing a standard” throughout the program and that his staff will have to “drive the culture.” It’s in part why he wanted to retain Cadillac Williams as associate head coach/running backs coach, and why he plans to lean on Williams’ institutional insight in determining the most crucial personnel to retain as Auburn moves into this next chapter.

“This is how we do it, and it’s proven to turn programs and worked everywhere we’ve been very, very fast,” Freeze said. “I think getting the culture, the buy-in from the staff to drive the culture, is the biggest priority.”

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

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