|Born||September 27, 1969|
|Alma mater||Southern Mississippi|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1992–1994||Briarcrest HS (TN) (OC/DB)|
|1995–2004||Briarcrest HS (TN)|
|2006–2007||Ole Miss (TE/RC)|
|2010||Arkansas State (OC)|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|2005||Ole Miss (assistant AD)|
|Head coaching record|
|Tournaments||1–2 (NAIA playoffs)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|1 SunBelt (2011) |
1 Mid-South Conference West Division (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)
4× AP HS COY
5× Region 8-AA COY
A successful high school football coach at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee, Freeze coached Michael Oher and Greg Hardy. He subsequently served as the head football coach at Lambuth University from 2008 to 2009, Arkansas State University in 2011, and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) from 2012 to 2016.
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 it from post-season play for two years. He resigned from Ole Miss after officials discovered that he had used a university cellphone to call escort services multiple times over the course of five years.
Freeze attended Senatobia High School and the University of Southern Mississippi, from which he graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and a minor in coaching and sports administration.
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. 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. In ten years at Briarcrest, Freeze was 94–30 as head coach (.785 winning percentage) and 126–37 overall. Freeze was depicted in the book and motion picture The Blind Side, about one of his former players, current free agent offensive tackle Michael Oher.
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.
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. Freeze has denied the allegations. Briarcrest officials said they were unaware of any sexual improprieties committed by Freeze during his tenure.
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. After that season, he replaced head coach Ed Orgeron on an interim basis before the hiring of Houston Nutt. Freeze interviewed for the offensive coordinator position with Nutt, 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. Freeze left Arkansas State before Arkansas State's post-season appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Ole Miss head coach
On December 5, 2011, Freeze was announced as the 37th head coach of the University of Mississippi. During the press conference to introduce Freeze as the head coach, he stated that 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.
In his first season at Ole Miss, Freeze led the Rebels to a 6–6 record in the regular season, making Ole Miss bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 with a 41–24 victory over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. His Rebels accepted a bid to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama, on January 5, 2013. They beat the University of Pittsburgh 38–17 to finish 7–6.[b]
Freeze won the 2014 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year award by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
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 head coach, along with Les Miles and Steve Spurrier, to defeat a Nick Saban-coached team in back-to-back years (Michigan's Lloyd Carr beat Saban's Michigan State Spartans in three consecutive years, '96–'98). 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.
The investigation reopened soon after star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil admitted taking money from one of Freeze's assistants. 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.
On July 13, 2017, Freeze's predecessor, Houston Nutt, sued Ole Miss for defamation, contending that Freeze and school officials falsely blamed him for the violations. As part of discovery for the lawsuit, Nutt's attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Act request for calls Freeze made on his university-issued cell phone during January 2016. Nutt's attorneys contended that Freeze and others at Ole Miss leaked information to the press as part of an effort to smear their client.
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. 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. On July 20, 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.
In February 2019, the NCAA punished the Ole Miss football team for the recruiting and academic violations committed under both Nutt and Freeze. 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 12–15; it was 39–25 on the field.
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 5-year extension with Liberty.
Notable assistants under Freeze who have become NCAA or NFL head coaches:
Head coaching record
|Lambuth Eagles (Mid-South Conference) (2008–2009)|
|2009||Lambuth||12–1||6–0||1st (West)||L NAIA Quarterfinal|
|Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt Conference) (2011)|
|Arkansas State:||10–2||8–0||* Departed Arkansas State for 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||1–5 [a]||0–5 [a]||T–5th (Western)||W Music City|
|2014||Ole Miss||2–4 [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)|
|Liberty Flames (NCAA Division I FBS independent) (2019–present)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
- "Ole Miss football forced to vacate 33 wins after investigation". WREG.com. February 12, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- "Nicholls coaching search nets 42 applicants". Houma Today. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
- "Ole Miss to vacate 33 FB wins after violations". SI.com. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Schlabach, Mark (July 20, 2017). "Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze resigns; escort-service calls cited". ESPN.com.
- Hugh Freeze Bio, Arkansas State University, retrieved December 16, 2010.
- Giannotto, Mike (July 24, 2017). "At Briarcrest Christian School, Hugh Freeze's legacy is everywhere". The Commercial Appeal.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Oher's HS Coach Gets Top Job at Arkansas State[permanent dead link], NBC Sports, December 2, 2010.
- "Hugh Freeze, Coach at Ole Miss, Follows an Unlikely Blueprint". Retrieved August 25, 2018.
- Heim, Mark (July 31, 2017). "Hugh Freeze stories emerge from former female students at Briarcrest Christian". AL.com.
- Peter, Josh (July 29, 2017). "Who is Hugh Freeze? Conflicting views of former Ole Miss coach emerge". USA Today.
- "Nutt Has Long List for New OC". WTOK.com. January 9, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- Hugh Freeze Named Lambuth University Head Football Coach, Lambuth University, January 19, 2008.
- "ASU Football Names Freeze New Offensive Coordinator". ArkansasStateRedWolves.com. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- Hugh Freeze hired at Arkansas St., ESPN, December 2, 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Hugh Freeze is Rebels' new coach". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- "2013 Football Class Rankings". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- "Hugh Freeze named coach of the year by Fellowship of Christian Athletes". FCA.org. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
- Morgan Moriarty (February 22, 2017). "The updated list of 21 NCAA allegations against Ole Miss football". SB Nation.
- "Laremy Tunsil says he took money from coach at Ole Miss". ESPN. April 28, 2016.
- "Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze made call to number tied to escort service". Retrieved August 25, 2018.
- "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.
- "Hugh Freeze to be offensive coordinator for Arizona of AAF". ESPN. October 11, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
- Caron, Emily (December 7, 2018). "Liberty Hires Hugh Freeze". SI.com.
- "Liberty extends Hugh Freeze's contract". al. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- "Jill Freeze—Her Life and Calling – Mississippi Christian Living". May 1, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
- Toalston, Art. "Hugh & Jill Freeze speak of God's grace at Liberty U." www.bpnews.net. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
- "Hugh Freeze asks for prayer, looking to get life back together: Mississippi pastor". July 26, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2018.