How Cadillac Williams can help new Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze

AUBURN — No one unites the Auburn football fanbase quite like Carnell "Cadillac" Williams.

He's an Alabama native, a beloved former player and has helped the university land some big recruits in his time as an assistant coach on the Plains. And that's without mentioning the month he spent reviving the program as the interim head coach after Bryan Harsin was fired Oct. 31.

Athletics director John Cohen ultimately didn't hire Williams for the full-time role, opting instead to give Hugh Freeze another shot in the SEC. But it didn't take long for the former Ole Miss coach to decide what he wanted to do with Williams. Not only was he retained, but Freeze also made him an associate head coach on his staff.

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"I told him, 'Look, you've got to do all that running up and down the sideline because I can't do that,' " Freeze said of Williams. " 'I need you to handle that part of it.' "

The value of Williams goes way beyond his energy on gameday, though, and Freeze knows it. Making the 40-year-old running backs coach his right-hand man was a no-brainer.

Here are a few reasons why.

A familiar face

The hiring of Freeze was met with backlash before he was even officially announced as the next coach. Many fans took to social media to express their disapproval when reports about his candidacy began to swirl; some even sent emails to Cohen and school president Christopher Roberts to share their thoughts. Freeze's controversial and well-documented past was the main point of contention.

But Freeze was hired anyway, and he had an easy opportunity to ingratiate himself with the fanbase early by keeping Williams around, which he wasted no time in doing. He also made sure to make Williams one of the first topics of conversation during his introductory press conference, giving him credit for what he did as the interim coach.

Keeping Williams in the building has plenty of other benefits, but selfishly for Freeze, having him serve as a buffer to the fans was a built-in advantage.


No one can sell Auburn's brand like Williams can. He grew up in the state, became one of the most prolific running backs in Auburn history, was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2005 NFL Draft and returned to the program as a coach in 2019. He's an all-time success story.

And that ability to be a walking endorsement for Auburn has shown up on the recruiting trail. Williams helped land Tank Bigsby in the class of 2020 and led the recruitment of Jarquez Hunter a year later. He also assisted in getting Damari Alston to the Plains. Bigsby is likely on his way to the NFL, but Hunter and Alston are poised to return to Auburn next season. Hunter racked up nearly 900 yards from scrimmage as the No. 2 in the backfield.

And it doesn't stop there, either. Williams has been involved in the recruitment of four-star running back Jeremiah Cobb from Montgomery Catholic Prep. Cobb committed to Auburn in July and can make things official during the early signing period Dec. 21.

Auburn Tigers interim football coach Cadillac Williams is acknowledged during the introductory press conference for new head coach Hugh Freeze at the Woltosz Football Performance Center in Auburn, Ala., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

Insight into Auburn

Williams is an Auburn legend through and through. He speaks the language of the Plains and knows what works, as well as what doesn't. He knows how to talk to the players and have his words resonate with them, evidenced by some of the performances they put on for him over the last month of the season.

He knows local high school coaches and people at the administrative level at Auburn. He also knows how to bring the fanbase together. The bottom line is Williams can be an incredible asset for Freeze, and the new coach didn't overlook that when he joined the Tigers.

"I think the word I would use is invaluable," Freeze said to describe Williams. "I don't know that I can describe it any more than that."

Richard Silva is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. He can be reached via email at or on Twitter @rich_silva18.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: How Cadillac Williams can help Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze