OXFORD, Miss. — The saying goes that time waits for no one, and it certainly rings true in Oxford. While the torch has been passed to another coach at Ole Miss, the former coach sits and waits and re-lives his misgivings, weekend after college football weekend.
“Saturday is the most difficult day,” Hugh Freeze told me during a recent series of conversations. “My typical week usually goes – I’ll start on Tuesday – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are usually pretty good. Jill (his wife) and I have good family time, good marriage-building stuff. It’s just been awesome for us to spend this time together because we haven’t had this much time. …
“Then Saturday comes and I get into an almost depressed mode and then I have to pray and fight through that. I kind of get by myself, don’t want to be around anybody. And that kind of carries over on through Saturday night. Sunday morning, then we go to church and I kind of get back on the upswing. It usually takes me ’til Monday afternoon to count all my blessings and trust God with my future. But Saturday is by far the most difficult.”
Freeze wants to get back into coaching. He told me he is ready – and hungry – to coach again, and that he took responsibility for his transgressions and paid a price: He lost a great job and a lot of money, and was shamed. He thinks “what makes most sense” is returning to the field as an offensive coordinator, although he’s “open to anything to be back around a team.”
“I really believe I have a lot to offer a program whether as an assistant or a head coach, and I’m hopeful it’s very soon,” Freeze said. “That program will get a very determined, motivated, better Coach Freeze if given a second chance.”
Jill Freeze believes his travails will make him a better coach.
“He has even more passion to coach in order to invest in his players’ and staff’s lives and be a positive influence on them,” she said. “I believe he will be more successful with his second chance because now he will seek to serve in God’s strength and not his own.”
Under the NCAA sanctions announced for Ole Miss last week, Freeze would have to sit out two conference games, no matter the conference, if he is hired as a head coach. But there are no such penalties if he is hired as an assistant.
Living with your decisions
To understand his journey, you must understand the pain he caused God, his wife, his family, his players and Ole Miss fans.
Hugh and Jill Freeze first welcomed me into their home for a visit in August. I was in town to visit with interim coach Matt Luke and Rebels players. As I pointed my car north and out of Oxford on another stop with #ChangingtheNarrative, I knew there was one more visit I had to make.
I remember knocking on the door nervously, not sure what I was going to find on the other side. When I took a seat in the Freeze living room, it struck me how close Jill sat next to Hugh and that they were holding hands.
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