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Why does Hugh Freeze miss Nick Saban? He needs someone to 'yell and scream' for coaches

AUBURN — Auburn football's Hugh Freeze felt a void when attending the latest SEC coaches meeting, and he's still looking for someone to step into it.

“In our most recent SEC head coaches meeting, there wasn’t a guy that was willing to yell and scream as much," Freeze said Thursday when asked about former Alabama coach Nick Saban's retirement. "We’ve got to find out who that guy is. I think it’s going to be (Georgia's Kirby Smart). It comes a little more natural to him. When we don’t like something, we always kind of depended on Nick to voice that in a forceful manner for us. I think that’s probably going to be given to Kirby.

"The game has changed so much that it’s really hard to separate Nick’s departure from all this other stuff we’ve got going on. The game is just constantly changing."

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Freeze said he spoke with Saban on Thursday, as the two are trying to arrange a golf outing while the Tigers are on spring break.

"It’s different, for sure. We need his voice to help us try to change some things and I think he’s willing to do that, because he has a great love for this sport," Freeze added. "... He’s done it at a high, high level for a long time, and I’m sure he and Ms. Terry wanted to enjoy some different type of lifestyle. But I do think he’ll still have an itch to try to help the game and he’ll have a voice to do that."

Saban's exit does, however, give Freeze a sense of opportunity.

“You feel like it all could be fool’s good without hard work and success," Freeze said. "But you do feel like, ‘Man, there might be an opening to capitalize on: Why not Auburn right now?’ That’ll be our message and I’m sure they’ll have a strong message, too. Both (Alabama and Auburn) will still get good players. But it is a different feel knowing Nick’s not in the game right now.”

Richard Silva is the Auburn athletics beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at rsilva@gannett.com or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Nick Saban: Why Hugh Freeze misses the retired Alabama coach