Hugh Freeze Hire Will Be Remembered as a Disaster For Auburn
When the dust has settled and Auburn has run yet another football coach out the door, the hiring of Hugh Freeze will be remembered as one of the bigger bungles the Barn has ever subjected its fans to.
Freeze will fail. If for no other reason than Auburn has a completely unrealistic idea of what success looks like for its program. The school has won two national championships in its entire existence, but seems to expect its coach have the program in contention for one every season just because the school to the north west is.
Beating Alabama is the pinnacle of achievement for the Auburn Tigers. Going to the SEC Championship or the College Football Playoff is a cherry on top if that happens. The Tigers had a coach that won three of his eight tilts with Saban in Gus Malzahn, and even went to the final BCS National Championship game under him. That wasn't good enough for Auburn.
After eight years, the fifth most wins in school history, three Iron Bowl victories, and one of the two national championships the school claims, Malzahn was shown the door. On top of firing Malzahn, they got stuck paying him a massive buyout - $21.45 million.
Auburn has a lot of money, but their coffers aren't infinite. Nonetheless, it handed its next hire a six year, $31.5 million contract despite never having coached in the SEC, let alone earned a win over an SEC team.
Bryan Harsin came down to the plains from Boise, Idaho and was a disaster from the start. He didn't gel well with Auburn's ever-meddling boosters, he did not bring in assistants that knew how to recruit in the SEC, and he didn't win the press conference.
Less than two years later, Auburn fired Harsin without cause and owed him a $15 million buyout, while still owing Malzahn over $5 million.
How Auburn arrived there was an even bigger disaster and a spectacle to witness. The university decided it was done with Harsin after he turned up a goose egg on National Signing Day. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Coach Safely Foundation reported that he hadn't even left his office the first day he and his staff were allowed to go visit recruits in person.
As a means of trying to avoid paying Harsin a buyout, people close to the program fabricated a rumor that he was having an extramarital affair with an assistant. Doing such would have been a direct violation of the morality clause in Harsin's contract and avoided them paying him a buyout.
So, it begs the question: why does Auburn find a rumor about an affair with an assistant enough of a violation to warrant firing, but not seem to care that its new coach solicited prostitutes, cheated on his wife, and embarrassed his family in an extremely public manner?
The answer is simple: Auburn thinks Freeze can win football games in the SEC, and it didn't think Harsin could.
The winning hasn't happened yet. It may very well, but that remains to be seen. What has begun is the start of another disaster. Scores of women have taken to social media to express their concerns with the hire. Many of them are Auburn alumni, some even donors. Many others have been connected in some manner to a victim of Freeze's harassment, intimidation, and other antics while serving at Liberty, Ole Miss, and even Briarcrest Christian School.
One report alleged that Freeze made a female school student change clothes in front of him in his office. Another said that when given the choice between a paddling and detention, she chose the paddling thinking a female staff member would administer it. Nope. Freeze made sure to strike her himself with no other faculty present.
Sounds like a man of high moral character, Auburn. Great job.
The solicitation of escorts and numerous recruiting violations can be looked past. People learn, grow, and change over time. Blaming the recruiting violations on Houston Nutt and then never apologizing to him for it is more difficult to look past. It shows a lack of willingness to be accountable for your transgressions. The repeated inappropriate actions towards women and the repeated harassment of women who make reports against his players is inexcusable, unavoidable, and abhorrent.
To hire someone like this, who currently has a worse win percentage than Malzahn, can only be the start of one thing.