NCAAF: Auburn hires Hugh Freeze as next head coach

Auburn hired Liberty’s Hugh Freeze to become the program’s next football coach Monday.

ESPN reported that Freeze signed a six-year deal with an average annual value of $6.5 million.

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Freeze will replace Bryan Harsin, whom Auburn fired eight games into his second season as coach.

Formerly the head coach at Arkansas State and Ole Miss, Freeze has gone 34-15 in four seasons at Liberty, which enjoyed a quick rise as an FBS independent under Freeze and will join Conference USA next season.

“After a thoughtful, thorough and well-vetted search, we ended where we started, with Hugh Freeze,” athletic director John Cohen said in a news release. “Of all the candidates we considered, Hugh was the best fit. Fit has several meanings, but the most important factors were student-athlete development, football strategy, recruiting and SEC experience.”

Freeze, 53, became the coach at Liberty in 2019 and has won eight or more games in each of the past four seasons, including a 3-0 record in bowl games.

Freeze spent one season at Arkansas State, when the Red Wolves went 10-2, and five coaching Ole Miss. He was dismissed from Ole Miss prior to the 2017 campaign after it was discovered he made inappropriate calls to a female escort service from his school-issued cellphone.

“I’ve been fortunate to witness first-hand how special Auburn is during my time as a head coach in the SEC and while visiting my daughter Jordan, who attended Auburn and currently lives in the community,” Freeze said in a news release. “I can’t wait to work with our student-athletes and the Auburn family to bring championships back to the Plains.”

Reports Saturday had said that Auburn was targeting Lane Kiffin and Freeze for the vacant position. But Kiffin said he intended to stay at Ole Miss, and soon after he and the Rebels had reportedly agreed to a contract extension with an average annual salary of $9 million.

Harsin compiled a 9-12 record at Auburn before his contract was bought out. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, a former star running back for the program, was named the interim coach after Harsin’s 3-5 start and the Tigers finished 5-7, likely missing out on bowl eligibility for the first time since 2012.

–Field Level Media

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