How Auburn football fans tried to derail Hugh Freeze hire
AUBURN — Auburn is hiring Hugh Freeze to be its next football coach.
Reports surfaced ahead of the Iron Bowl on Saturday revealing Lane Kiffin was out of the running and the next most likely candidate to get the job was Freeze, according to those same reports.
But as the conversation around the former Ole Miss coach heated up, some members of the Auburn fanbase expressed discontent over Freeze's past.
Freeze, who coached the Rebels from 2012-16, was forced to resign from his position in Oxford after a scandal broke revolving around recruiting violations and using a university phone to contact numbers associated with escort services. After leaving Ole Miss and spending some time away from the sport, Freeze was hired by Liberty in 2018.
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He led the Flames to a 34-15 record through four seasons, including three bowl wins.
But his time at Liberty wasn't without controversy. Chelsea Andrews, a former student at the school, posted a screenshot in July of her direct messages on Twitter seemingly showing Freeze contacting her regarding a post she made about Liberty athletics director Ian McCaw. Andrews was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Liberty accusing the university of mishandling sexual assault cases.
The entire ordeal, which was chronicled by Inside Higher Ed, has become yet another reason why some Auburn fans pushed back on the hiring being made. On the flip side, however, others, including former Auburn linebacker Will Herring, came out in support of Freeze on Sunday.
Many Auburn fans took to social media to either denounce or support Freeze before he was officially hired. Many of the detractors tagged new Auburn athletics director John Cohen in their posts.
Here's a sample of some of the reaction:
Why is the head football coach at Liberty University DMing me during and after my lawsuit with LU?
At almost midnight.
When I didn’t tag him.
& I haven’t responded to the other DMs he’s sent over the months
Publicly naming so he can see that I don’t want direct contact w/ him pic.twitter.com/K3icZAuops
— Chelsea Andrews (@chelsandrews) July 10, 2022
My thoughts on AU coaching search. pic.twitter.com/xZzSUj7bBd
— Will Herring (@wherring54) November 28, 2022
If you support Hugh Freeze being Auburn’s next HC please understand that you also support intimidating sexual assault victims. @AuburnU and specifically Raymond J. Harbert - you are sending a message loud and clear to every woman in this fanbase.
— brandie (@brandieeemac) November 26, 2022
.@JohnCohenAD hey man, it would be pretty cool if you came out and said something along the lines of "Hugh Freeze is not going to be Auburn's next head coach"
— joshdub 🦚 (@joshdub_) November 28, 2022
If @JohnCohenAD's first major decision is to hire Hugh Freeze, an unethical and immoral disgrace, he's failed Auburn University in less than a month on the job.
— Jay Glover (@jayau92) November 26, 2022
It would be a moral failure by Auburn University if the hiring of Hugh Freeze goes through. What message would be sent to the Auburn family, especially Auburn women if his past is ignored for the sake of potentially winning football games?
— David Hall (@davidhallll) November 27, 2022
Hugh Freeze is SUCH a good guy and SUCH a good coach that NOBODY else has hired him
— joshdub 🦚 (@joshdub_) November 28, 2022
Just in case, for the record, I will not attend a single home game at Auburn if Hugh Freeze is the head coach. @JohnCohenAD pic.twitter.com/iFRtozVqLK
— Pablo Escobarner (blue check) (@PabloEscoburner) November 24, 2022
Social media is ugly.
If there are Auburn fans who don't want Hugh Freeze as HC, that's fair game. But trying to link him to separate ongoing "sexual harassment/assault" litigation at Liberty which doesn't include Freeze is shameful.
Freeze made mistakes at Ole Miss 7 years ago.
— Jimmy NC Hoops (@CarolinaSportsZ) November 27, 2022
Richard Silva is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @rich_silva18.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn football fans tried to derail Hugh Freeze hire