Liberty hires new football coach
Hugh Freeze, who led the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) to a 39-25 record and national prominence from 2012-2016, was announced as the ninth head coach in Liberty University’s football program history during a packed press conference Friday, Dec. 7.
Freeze will take over the position vacated by Turner Gill, who retired Sunday after seven years at the helm and one day after completing Liberty’s first FBS season with a 6-6 record.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Freeze said. “I’m so thankful to be the head football coach at Liberty University.”
With around 250 in attendance and a national audience watching online, Freeze went through five core values he wished to instill in a team that has big-time games against Syracuse University, Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia in 2019.
“And we can’t wait to enjoy this journey again,” Freeze said while tearing up and pointing to his wife and three daughters. “We’re all about finishing.”
As for the allegations as to what happened at Ole Miss, Freeze had previously admitted to making mistakes and apologized when he came as a guest speaker to Liberty’s Convocation service Jan. 24, 2018.
During the press conference, he spoke about the last two years of knowing what life could be like when he was living in obedience to the Lord and discovering the Lord’s hand of discipline when he wasn’t.
According to Sports Illustrated, Freeze resigned under pressure because of what Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork termed a “concerning pattern” of behavior that Ole Miss officials found when searching through Freeze’s phone records.
“I used to define integrity as doing the right thing,” Freeze said. “If that’s the soul definition of it, then probably none of us meet that standard. Integrity is when you don’t get it exactly right, you own it, you make the necessary changes, and you move forward.”
Freeze later quoted the late Southern Baptist preacher Adrian Rogers, who said, “never let the moment define the man.”
The off-field controversy that led to his exit contrasted strong success on the field for Freeze at Ole Miss, which included a memorable 10-3 season in 2015 in which his team upset the eventual national champion, the University of Alabama, and won the Sugar Bowl.
“It’s just part of Liberty’s DNA to give people second, third, fourth chances,” President Jerry Falwell Jr. said at the press conference. “That’s one of the things that’s unique about Liberty.”