Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze says he has 'leapfrogged' to better job than Ole Miss, previous stops

·2 min read

Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze's introductory press conference on Tuesday was partially about the Tigers and largely about the new coach's past stops.

Freeze got more than a couple questions about redemption, second chances and re-writing his own ending after the way he left Ole Miss in 2017.

The Rebels were 39-25 during his tenure, 19-21 in the SEC, but his time in Oxford is most remembered for how it ended. Freeze resigned from Ole Miss before the 2017 season after phone records revealed that he was in contact with an escort service via a university cell phone. Freeze was out of college football for two seasons, then spent four seasons at Liberty.

"I don't believe in deserving something. I believe in earning something," Freeze said Tuesday. "And I do believe we fought to earn this. It's been rocky at times. But you can become overcome with emotion because of — truthfully, I feel like, and this is no offense to another school or anything, but I feel like I've leapfrogged where I was at that time by being in this family and this culture here. And I loved my time there, but I see this as one of the top 10 football programs in the nation. And I believe that."

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Neither the media member who asked the question nor Freeze specifically referenced Ole Miss, and maybe they didn't have to do so. Historically, Auburn has been more successful overall. In the 21st century, Ole Miss has had five winning seasons in conference play while Auburn has played in four SEC Championship Games.

But Freeze is taking the Auburn job at a time where Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss trending upward. The Rebels have 18 wins over the last two seasons while the Tigers have slumped to last place in the SEC West two years in a row. For better of for worse during Freeze's time at Auburn, the comparisons will continue.

And that wasn't Freeze's only answer about second chances.

"I had a great five years at Ole Miss. They were great to me," Freeze said later Tuesday. "My story is well documented. I let some people down, a lot of people down, and I am very sorry for that at the end of that (tenure in Oxford). I spent the last six years trying to earn the respect and trust of my family, teams, administrations — everyone that was around me. That's the lesson that I learned is to keep working to earn people's trust. And when they get to know you, a lot of that comes."

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn football: Hugh Freeze says he has 'leapfrogged' Ole Miss to better job