Hugh Freeze has agreed to a deal to develop into Auburn’s subsequent head soccer coach, sources informed ESPN.
An official announcement is anticipated later Monday.
Freeze has spent the previous 4 seasons at Liberty, the place he took the Flames to unprecedented heights. He is broadly thought to be one of many prime offensive minds within the recreation. This will likely be Freeze’s second head-coaching stint within the SEC, with him having led Ole Miss’ program from 2012 to 2016. He beat Alabama and Nick Saban in back-to-back seasons in 2014 and 2015 and capped the 2015 season with the Rebels’ first Sugar Bowl victory since 1970.
However within the weeks main as much as the beginning of preseason apply in 2017, Freeze resigned after Ole Miss officers found he had made a collection of calls to a number of numbers related to an escort service. Ole Miss was positioned on NCAA probation in 2017 for violations that occurred partly beneath Freeze, and the sanctions included a two-year bowl ban.
Freeze, whereas cited by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions for failure to observe his assistant coaches and the varsity’s boosters, didn’t obtain a show-cause penalty and “promoted an atmosphere of compliance,” in line with the NCAA report.
New Auburn athletic director John Cohen, who was employed Oct. 31, had narrowed his search to Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin and Freeze. Kiffin mentioned on Saturday that he was staying at Ole Miss and signing a brand new deal value $9 million per yr.
Freeze, 53, replaces Bryan Harsin, who was fired Oct. 31, two days after Auburn’s 41-27 loss to Arkansas at house. Harsin was 9-12 general in lower than two seasons at Auburn, which skilled repeated struggles on offense beneath Harsin and had problem sustaining success on the recruiting path. Former Auburn athletic director Allen Greene, who employed Harsin, negotiated a settlement with the college to go away in August. Greene was coming into the ultimate 5 months of his contract, and sources informed ESPN that his contract was not going to be renewed after the season.
Harsin appeared like he may be out after Yr 1 and survived a university-directed investigation in January following a mass exodus of gamers and assistant coaches. He was retained after then-school president Jay Gogue mentioned the method “did not yield information that should change the status of our coaching staff or football program.” Harsin got here to Auburn from Boise State and had by no means beforehand coached within the SEC. He completed 4-11 in opposition to Energy 5 opponents at Auburn.
Auburn owes Harsin a $15.5 million buyout, and 50 % of that’s due inside 30 days of his termination.
Freeze agreed to a brand new eight-year deal at Liberty in October with a median wage of just below $5 million per yr, making him one of many highest-paid Group of 5 coaches within the nation. Liberty completed a number of firsts on Freeze’s watch, together with the primary AP nationwide rating in class historical past and this system’s first wins over an ACC and SEC college.
Freeze turns into Auburn’s third completely different head coach within the final 4 years. Gus Malzahn, at present at UCF, was fired on the finish of the 2020 season. Harsin lasted components of two seasons earlier than being fired. The Tigers final received an SEC championship in 2013, Malzahn’s first season as head coach, and likewise performed within the BCS nationwide championship recreation that season and misplaced to Florida State.
Over the past 12 seasons, Auburn has both received a nationwide championship (2010) or performed for a nationwide championship (2013). Solely 5 different faculties in faculty soccer could make that declare throughout that span — Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State.