AUBURN — Auburn is hiring Hugh Freeze to be its next football coach.
Reports surfaced ahead of the Iron Bowl on Saturday revealing Lane Kiffin was out of the running and the next most likely candidate to get the job was Freeze, according to those same reports.
But as the conversation around the former Ole Miss coach heated up, some members of the Auburn fanbase expressed discontent over Freeze's past.
Freeze, who coached the Rebels from 2012-16, was forced to resign from his position in Oxford after a scandal broke revolving around recruiting violations and using a university phone to contact numbers associated with escort services. After leaving Ole Miss and spending some time away from the sport, Freeze was hired by Liberty in 2018.
He led the Flames to a 34-15 record through four seasons, including three bowl wins.
But his time at Liberty wasn't without controversy. Chelsea Andrews, a former student at the school, posted a screenshot in July of her direct messages on Twitter seemingly showing Freeze contacting her regarding a post she made about Liberty athletics director Ian McCaw. Andrews was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Liberty accusing the university of mishandling sexual assault cases.
The entire ordeal, which was chronicled by Inside Higher Ed, has become yet another reason why some Auburn fans pushed back on the hiring being made. On the flip side, however, others, including former Auburn linebacker Will Herring, came out in support of Freeze on Sunday.
Many Auburn fans took to social media to either denounce or support Freeze before he was officially hired. Many of the detractors tagged new Auburn athletics director John Cohen in their posts.
Here's a sample of some of the reaction:
Richard Silva is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rich_silva18.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn football fans tried to derail Hugh Freeze hire