How an SEC bylaw is playing a part in keeping former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze unemployed

Published 11:11 am Monday, April 16, 2018

As one of the most successful coaches in college football history — and the highest-paid in the country — Nick Saban usually gets what he wants.

Alabama’s coach wanted former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to join his staff as an on-field assistant. So did at least four other SEC programs this offseason, according to a report from, but the SEC didn’t approve of its programs trying to hire someone who’s known as much for his off-field transgressions as his ability to coach on it.

According to SEC bylaw, league members are expected to directly consult with commissioner Greg Sankey before offering employment to a coach who has “engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted in, or may result, in a Level I, II or major infraction.” Sankey headed the league’s opposition of Saban’s desire to hire Freeze as the Tide’s co-offensive coordinator as well as other schools, including LSU and Missouri, wanting to bring him on as offensive coordinator, according to the report.

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So instead of preparing to face his former team this fall, Freeze remains unemployed nine months after abruptly resigning after a five-year run at Ole Miss because of what athletic director Ross Bjork called a “concerning pattern” of personal misconduct tied to phone calls placed from Freeze’s university-issued cell phone to numbers associated with female escort services.

Ole Miss is also looking at a multi-year bowl ban as part of the penalties stemming from a long-running NCAA investigation with most of the 15 Level-I charges levied against the program tied to Freeze’s tenure. Freeze was assessed a one-year penalty in which he’d be suspended for the first two conference games next season should another school hire him as a head coach.

Freeze, who still lives in Oxford with his wife, Jill, and their three daughters, went 39-25 during his time at Ole Miss with a pair of wins over Alabama. He’s one of just three SEC coaches to beat Saban more than once during his time at Alabama.

Meanwhile, Saban, whose six national championships (five at Alabama, one at LSU) are tied with former Alabama coach Bear Bryant for the most ever for a head coach in the poll era, eventually hired former Penn State assistant Josh Gattis to be his co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach after promoting Mike Locksley to offensive coordinator.