Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss Auburn’s hiring of Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze, and talk about the circumstances that led to his resignation from Ole Miss.
ROSS DELLENGER: But can you separate the coach who wins a lot of games from the guy who, off the field, has done some things that are pretty bad? Auburn can separate that.
DAN WETZEL: All right, let's go to the flashiest one. Auburn. I believe this is just-- this was destiny. Hugh Freeze needed back in the SEC, and where else was he gonna go than Auburn?
One of the funniest things is the Auburn boosters made up and tried to manufacture a personal foible scandal to get rid of Bryan Harsin last year, which turned out to be untrue, so that they could rally around a coach that had a personal foible scandal.
They were outraged about something that didn't happen, so they tried to slander the guy. All so they could hire a guy who did worse than what was alleged. Auburn at its finest right there.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: They just-- they had to have him. It was like, where else is he gonna go? Pat? This is gonna be entertaining. That's all I kept saying. I was on Finebaum yesterday, and they're like, what do you think? I'm like, I love it. Entertaining. I don't give a
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah. Content.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah. He's like, what about the ethic? I'm like, it's Auburn. Just--
PAT FORDE: Yeah. No, that's it. I said, crazy attracts crazy, and this is the perfect match. This is a guy with a lot of baggage who can win games at a school that does not care at all about baggage and wants to win games. It's a school that is desperate to beat Alabama with a guy that beat Alabama back-to-back years. The only guy in the last decade to beat Nick Saban in back-to-back seasons.
So it fits. And yes, we can drop all the pretense. We can drop the artifice and all the bull [BLEEP] of yeah, he's here to mold men, and instill character, and a man of great integrity. Let's just say what it is. We want to win. We think we can win with him, and so there you have it.
So yes. And I will say, yes, to your point, Dan. What he did with that program was an absolute weasel move. He threw Houston Nutt under the bus. He lied completely to a lot of people. A lot of people believed him, because he was Bible-thumping Hugh. And he built up these buddy-buddy relationships with a million people, and it was all completely false.
And that was a really bad, bad deal. But you go, and you're out of the profession for two years. He got the Greg Sankey silent show cause when some people tried to hire him as offensive coordinator. You go to Liberty, puts in his time there. He wins phenomenally at Liberty, including some big victories.
All right, fine. I'm not gonna sit here and say, you can never go back to the SEC or anything. Go get the job. Fine, fine. And now we'll see how it goes. Part of the deal is he's supposed to stay off social media. OK?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah. This reminds me of one of those debates of separating the art from the artist. People talk about musicians and stuff like that, who maybe do some unsavory things off the stage. But man, still can't get that song out of my head. Got to keep listening to that musician.
And can we separate the coach from the person? The person, obviously, did some things off the field. Not only as Dan mentioned with his players, and lying to them about the sanctions that were coming at Ole Miss, and making up stuff about Houston Nutt. But, obviously, the escort situation at Ole Miss and then lying about it to his boss. There was a lot of lying going on.
But can you separate the coach who wins a lot of games, whose staff and players seem to like to play for him? Seem to love him? From the guy who, off the field, has done some things that are pretty bad? And that's the question here. Auburn, no surprise, can separate that as we saw.
But a lot of schools cannot. And a lot of schools passed on him over the years, because they cannot separate that. The reaction from social media-- and let's keep in mind 7% of America is on social media. So it's not indicative of everyone, but the reaction on social media-- specifically the reaction from actually a lot of Auburn fans on social media. --was probably more visceral than I expected.
There's a lot of people out there that are not separating coach from person. That they cannot do that. And there was more of a blowback than I thought. Of course, I'll look at social media-- Auburn social media, Auburn Twitter when Freeze wins the Iron Bowl and is 11 and 1. We'll see how the reaction is there. Because, again, that's when everybody probably is gonna separate coach from person all of a sudden.