Column: ESP-Em

 This is a column in defense of a sinner, saved by grace, becoming the head coach of a Division I football program at the world’s largest evangelical Christian institution. 

There has been some negative talk about Liberty’s new head coach. The thing I’ve heard circulating the most is how his hiring is “A questionable hire for Liberty’s athletics department,” or “How can Liberty hire someone like Freeze to be an example for the young men on the team?” 

Thing is, people see a major heart issue with Liberty’s choice to hire Freeze. This isn’t about his coaching ability — how can it be with a 163-55 record as a head coach? — but rather about his actions and the idea that Liberty “overlooked” them to hire him anyway. 

Quite frankly, it’s impossible to overlook what Freeze has done, and I believe Liberty took this into account when he was hired. 

Put lightly, Freeze’s career at Ole Miss ended poorly. Not only was he the head coach of the football program that had recruiting violations such as providing cash payments or free hotel rooms to athletes, an attorney retained by a former Ole Miss head coach found calls to a female escort service had been made from his university-provided phone. Those calls weren’t just a one-off mistake, either — they were made several times over several years. 

Freeze was heavily punished for his actions. He lost his job, his reputation and suffered the consequences between public backlash, difficulty finding a new coaching home and a two-game conference suspension from the NCAA that expired November 30, 2018. 

And Freeze completely owns up to that. He fully acknowledges that he has made some serious mistakes, and he doesn’t try to hide it. Whether in his January 2018 Convocation visit or his December 2018 introductory press conference as Liberty’s head coach, Freeze has not hesitated to say that he has done foolish things and that he paid the price for it. 

Freeze also hasn’t hesitated to profess his redemption through Christ. He said in his introductory press conference that “Our program is going to be about certain core values. No. 1 is Faith. Faith for me is believing in the son of God, Jesus Christ.” He has already used his platform as Liberty’s head coach to share a message at a recent men’s conference at Cypress Baptist Church in Louisiana. 

His Convocation speech was based upon his experience in restoring grace and finding himself in Christ again, accompanied by his wife’s testimony in their trying times. 

Looking at the evidence of Freeze’s actions and words, it seems he has repented of his sin and has taken a genuine turn toward turning his life around. He took his two years off to reflect on life and his actions and find his way again and has repented of his sins and the mess he made. 

And while Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:12 that the church is responsible for judging its members, that time of judgment has passed. Freeze has, as said in Matthew 18, been publicly rebuked and, as in 2 Corinthians 2:8, been forgiven and welcomed back into fellowship with Christian people. 

I think hiring Freeze was the right decision. Freeze has been given a clean slate and a second chance, as he should have been. Even the aforementioned attorney who found the escort calls recently told CBS Sports, “Whatever the cynics might say, it makes perfect sense that Liberty would be willing to give Hugh a second chance.” 

It’s no longer up to us to judge him and hold onto his past mistakes, but rather to accept him and treat him as one of our own. It’s time to move forward and beyond what he’s done, and rather look to what he will do. 

I, for one, can’t wait to see where he takes Liberty’s football program. 

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