By Steve Williams
One recent coaching hire that really surprised me was Liberty University, the largest Christian college in the nation, hiring Hugh Freeze. How did this guy get a job there?
I guess the Flames care more about football and scoring touchdowns than they do about character and living right.
I should also mention the former Ole Miss head coach was hired by Liberty Athletic Director Ian McCaw, who was one of three officials at Baylor that lost their jobs in the wake of the sexual assault scandal involving football players between 2012 and 2016. Obviously, McCaw getting the AD job at Liberty surprised me too.
Frankly, I’m glad the University of Tennessee did not hire Freeze. I also hope the reports I heard that Jeremy Pruitt spoke with Freeze about UT’s offensive coordinator vacancy were not true.
Freeze got into plenty of NCAA hot water at Ole Miss and also eventually was given the ultimatum to resign or be fired for violating the morals clause of his contract. Ole Miss officials discovered “a concerning pattern” of calls to a female escort service from Freeze’s phone.
Would you want your quarterback son to be guided on and off the field for four years by Freeze?
Freeze just recently came off a NCAA show-cause penalty for not monitoring his assistant coaches at Ole Miss. Numerous recruiting violations by his staff resulted in Ole Miss imposing a self bowl ban in 2017 and the NCAA adding another year this season, although the 5-7 Rebels wouldn’t have been in one anyway with that record.
Many fans just know and care that Freeze is the coach who beat Alabama in back-to-back seasons.
According to a couple of surveys I heard on the radio the last few weeks, about 75 percent of Tennessee football fans wanted UT to hire Freeze. I can’t believe that.
One longtime local sportscaster was campaigning on the air for UT to hire Freeze. He said Tennessee needed to start cheating to get back on the winning track. He wanted us to believe that the Vols would never be winners again if they didn’t cheat.
I called another local station after that and asked nationally known sportscaster Dr. Jerry Punch if he thought a lot of coaches believed it was necessary to cheat to win in college football in this day and age. He said he felt many coaches “push the envelope” as far as they can when it comes to playing by the rules. He also said he believed Freeze would be on his best behavior if Tennessee hired him because the NCAA would be watching him closely.
I believe there are many good men out there that are good coaches and good husbands and try to win the right way. That’s the kind of person I would like to see UT hire in all of its sports.
I hope Pruitt is that kind of person. That report of him meeting with Freeze about the OC job is still in the back of my mind. I hope he will explain his position on that matter as soon as he has time.
Other than that, I believe Pruitt has been spending most of his time on recruiting the best football players and young men that he can find. It doesn’t matter how good the offensive coordinator is that ends up on the UT staff. If he doesn’t have good players, he won’t be successful.
I believe Pruitt knows he first must rebuild Tennessee’s offensive and defensive lines. No matter how good the skill players are, they won’t be able to be successful if the Vols remain weak and soft up front.
Early signing day is Wednesday. Dec. 19. That is a higher priority than signing an OC.