AUBURN, Al. (WRBL)— Monday night Auburn University announced their new head football coach, Hugh Freeze.
Freeze spent his last four seasons as head coach at Liberty University. Coach Freeze has an 83-42 record in his 10-year coaching career from Arkansas State, Ole Miss, and Liberty University. Coaching the Auburn Tigers will mark his comeback to the SEC after nearly six years.
“He’s going to do some really good things for this great football program and I’m excited to see. I also really like the fact that he’s coaching a guy who can run, Robby Ashford. He coached Malik Willis, and Malik Willis can run. I think those two guys can play somewhat similar. I think that’ll be a good offense for Hugh Freeze,” Westin Newell explained.
Ashford attended Tuesday’s press conference and spoke to a gaggle of media, sharing insight to his relationship with Willis.
“I’m cool with Malik Willis. I called him yesterday as soon as I saw he got hired. He was like, ‘hey Rob this is the guy you want; Coach Freeze is who you want for somebody like you,” Ashford recalled.
Willis transferred from Auburn to Liberty during Coach Freeze’s tenure. Willis was a 3rd round pick in the NFL draft this year. Newell is hoping Freeze’s track record with Willis will carry over with Auburn’s current quarter back, Ashford.
“I do think I have a gift to help develop quarterbacks. I think if you look at everywhere we’ve had pretty good success with that. And I’m very anxious to get to work with not only him, he’s a tremendous athlete, but I think there’s a lot of good players in that room, too,” Coach Freeze said in response to a media question about Ashford.
“I’m excited to get to work, you know, how can I get better every single day? Like he talks about it. I mean I feel like we’re going to make a great, great team, great duo. And I think you’ll look back on this and be like, ‘he said it was going to happen.’ I think we’re going to make it happen,” Ashford responded after the presser.
This season, Ashford threw over 16-hundred yards with 7 touch downs and ran for over 700 yards and 7 touchdowns.
However, many students expressed their concerns over Coach Freeze’s past reputation. According to ESPN, there was a report that Freeze made at least 12 calls to an escort service using an Ole Miss issued phone while he was the head coach of the Rebels from April of 2014 to July of 2016.
“After researching him, I saw he kind of has a past. So, I’m not too sure about him yet,” Will Barnhartt said.
Freeze was dismissed from Ole Miss in 2016 for what they’re calling ‘personal misconduct.’ Despite these allegations, students still have hope for Auburn football.
“He’s had his past controversies and everything. But I don’t know. I think he can really turn the program around,” Nikola Ilic said.
“I did hear about his past reputation, and I was really skeptical about it. After all of the recent news articles and his interview, I think he’s going to be a good choice for Auburn in the long run. I think he’s a great Christian and I support him,” Katherine Hall shared.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Freeze responded saying he’s spent his time apart from the SEC working on his reputation.
“I had a great five years at Ole Miss. They were great to me. My story is well documented,” Coach Freeze said. “I let some people down, a lot of people down, and I’m very sorry for that at the end of that. But I’ve spent the last six years trying to earn the respect and trust of my family, teams, administrations, everyone that was around me.”
Many students say despite these allegations, his decision to keep Cadillac Williams on as an associate head coach will help bridge the trust to rebuild the Auburn Family.
They believe with his help; Coach Freeze will be able to bring the energy back to Jordan-Hare.
“I was really excited to hear his announcement today that he would be associate head coach and that Coach Freeze had a lot of the same morals and principles that Cadillac had in his coaching,” Katie Swetz shared.
“I just appreciate all that Cadillac has done these past couple of weeks, he’s really brought back a lot of school spirit. I think he’s brought back a lot of people’s love for Auburn, Auburn football,” Reilly Roberson said.
Both Swetz and Roberson are in Auburn’s Marching Band, they say the first two home games of this season were electric but dipped in energy after the Missouri game. They noticed a re-charge after Williams took the reins, reporting Jordan-Hare has been filled over the last four weeks. Coach Freeze said he hopes to work alongside Williams to get to know his players and build up the Auburn culture.
“Cadillac will really help him to understand the culture of Auburn and really help bring the energy and excitement that we really want to see with our football program,” Benn Brannan said.
“From what we’ve seen with Cadillac and a lot of the players here at Auburn, there’s at least a bright future for Auburn regardless of who the head coach would have been,” Ben Howard explained.
All-in-all folks are excited for next year’s season.
“I’m just really excited for Auburn football. I’m a huge Auburn fan, so I really just want the best for Auburn. And if that’s, you know, with Hugh Freeze being the head coach, then I’m all for that,” Logan Konopatzke exclaimed.