Ole Miss’ search for a new head football coach is over. A little less than a month after announcing that Houston Nutt would not return to coach the Rebels for the 2012 season and beyond, Ole Miss has found his replacement in Hugh Freeze.
Freeze, a former assistant under former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron from 2005-07 and most recently the head coach at Arkansas State, is scheduled to be formally introduced as Ole Miss’ next coach at a press conference today at 2. Freeze helped lead the Red Wolves to a 10-2 overall record this season while also going 7-0 in the Sun Belt. The undefeated mark in league play garnered the school the overall championship and earned the Red Wolves a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 8. It is being reported that Freeze will not coach the team in the bowl game.
Freeze, 42, accepted Ole Miss’ offer to become the school’s new head coach late Sunday night. Arkansas State Athletics Director Dean Lee released a statement to the media stating he had given permission to Ole Miss to talk with Freeze, who has been considered a strong candidate to replace Nutt since the start of the search.
Manning weighs in
Archie Manning, the co-chairman of the search committee, released a video this morning talking about the process of hiring Freeze and why he and the committee felt like the former Orgeron assistant would be the right man for the job.
“A lot of people know about Ole Miss and our traditions and there was a lot of interest for this job. The process consisted of looking at former and active college head coaches, many top assistants in addition to pro coaches. With a large candidate pool, we had to be diligent and specific in how we narrowed the pool to one,” Manning said in the video. “In addition to selecting a man with high character and integrity, the other criteria we used was the ability to fill a staff, recruit this part of the country, develop those student-athletes, galvanize the fan base and win the right way.
“After weeks of studying the candidates, many interviews, the decision was simple: The committee was immediately wowed by his plan, his track record, his recruiting and his proven ability to win and win the right way. I’m so excited to announce that Hugh Freeze is the next head football coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.”
Terms of Freeze’s contract weren’t immediately released.
Last season, Freeze was the lowest paid head coach in Division I football, according to a report released by the USA Today earlier this season. Freeze’s base salary was $202,160, a figure that increased some with incentives he hit by winning the Sun Belt.Freeze, a native of Senatobia and graduate of Southern Mississippi, was a coach at Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis for 13 years before coming to Ole Miss. While at Briarcrest, Freeze went 99-23 and won two state championships and became a central figure in the life of former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, who is now an standout for the Baltimore Ravens.
Freeze served as interim head coach after Orgeron was let go following the 2007 season. He was not retained by Nutt but was able to remain a head coach when he was hired by NAIA-level Lambuth (Tenn.) in 2008. He compiled a 20-5 overall record at Lambuth and parlayed that success into becoming the offensive coordinator at ASU in 2010.
Freeze served as the team’s coordinator until he was promoted to head coach after Steve Roberts was dismissed following a four-win season a year ago.
Freeze runs an up-tempo, spread offense that has been praised as being unconventional, exciting and different. Under his guidance this fall, the Red Wolves finished first in the league in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. (December 5, 2011, Page 4B)