Florida Coaching Candidate Profile: Ole Miss HC Hugh Freeze

With the news of Will Muschamp’s firing, we’re profiling the candidates to take over as Florida HC. Today, we’re taking a look at Mississippi HC Hugh Freeze.

Freeze, unlike many SEC coaches, didn't play college ball - instead, he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in mathematics and a minor in coaching and sports administration. Freeze began his coaching career at Briarcrest High School in Briarcrest, Tennessee - after three seasons as offensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, Freeze took over as head coach in 1995.

Freeze installed the no-huddle spread offense, winning the regional championship in six of his ten seasons in charge and the state championship twice. Freeze coached then-high school standout Michael Oher, and was featured in The Blind Side and its film adaptation.

Freeze was first hired by Ole Miss in 2005, and he filled a variety of roles in his first stint with the Rebels. Starting as an assistant athletic director for external football affairs, Freeze also spent time as a recruiting coordinator, a tight ends coach, and even as interim head coach after Ed Orgeron was fired in 2007. After Houston Nutt took over, Freeze interviewed for the offensive coordinator position but didn't get the job.

After leaving Ole Miss, Freeze took over as head coach of the NAIA Lambuth Eagles. Freeze orchestrated a remarkable turnaround at Lambuth, going 20-5 overall and getting the attention of several larger programs. Freeze joined the San Jose State Spartans as offensive coordinator in late 2010, but family health problems led him to leave after just three months to take a job closer to home with Arkansas State. Freeze impressed so much as offensive coordinator that the team hired him as head coach the very next year, and Freeze responded by taking the Red Wolves to a 10-2 record and a Sun Belt title.

Ole Miss, which had just fired Houston Nutt, gave Freeze a call, and he was installed as coach just weeks later. With the Rebels, Freeze is 23-13 overall, and he has the highest winning percentage of any Ole Miss coach since the legendary Johnny Vaught, who retired in 1973. Freeze is 2-0 in bowl games so far, and as of this writing, his team is 8-2 and ranked 8th in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Good: Freeze is a proven winner who has succeeded at every job he's had to date - despite little previous experience, Freeze took charge of the Briarcrest High women's basketball team and led it to a 305-83 overall record with four state championships. Freeze can motivate, he can recruit, and he's had plenty of offensive success, one of the main things Florida AD Jeremy Foley is looking for in a replacement for Will Muschamp.

The Bad: Even if Florida comes calling with a big check, there's no guarantee Freeze will listen to offers. He's finally settling into a job, and he's announced his intention to retire at Ole Miss multiple times. He has three young daughters, and would be reluctant to uproot his family.

How Would The Fans React? For most Florida fans, Freeze would probably be the second-most popular option after Mark Stoops. Freeze has been responsible for a rapid turnaround at every program he's ever been involved with, and with Florida's resources it's hard to see him struggling like Will Muschamp did. Considering UF's priorities right now, Freeze would be a home run.

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