BATON ROUGE, La. – The weekend has come and gone, and Hugh Freeze still isn’t a member of the LSU staff. What’s the hold up?
While the NCAA’s long-awaited ruling on Ole Miss was buried Friday amid Texas A&M’s power play and Tennessee’s comedy of errors, it carried great news for the former Rebels coach. Let’s skip the legal jargon and get to what matters: Freeze will have to miss two conference games if he is hired as a head coach, but he gets off scot-free if he’s hired as an assistant. No show cause. No suspension unless he’s a head coach.
So, what is LSU waiting on? The Tigers need to get this done before someone else does. Ed Orgeron hired Freeze to his first college job at Ole Miss in 2006, and the two have remained friends.
“I always thought Hugh was a tremendous coach,” Orgeron said last season before the Tigers and Rebels met in Baton Rouge. “I almost hired him as my offensive coordinator – probably should have.”
Freeze reciprocated the admiration.
“Without him giving me an opportunity to come here and be in an off-the-field position and to learn from him in recruiting and things I watched him do and how persistent and how he did his things with great passion … I learned a lot from him,” Freeze said. “I’m very indebted to the time I had and the opportunity he gave me. I don’t know my career does what it does without the opportunity he gave me.”
Maybe it’s time for Freeze to repay that favor.
True, LSU already has an offensive coordinator. Matt Canada has two more years on his contract totaling $3 million. There is a better chance of LSU becoming a dry campus than Canada being fired and Joe Alleva swallowing that contract. But Canada’s desire to be a head coach is well-known (Canada is being rumored as a potential replacement for Mark Hudspeth, who was fired Sunday at UL-Lafayette), and Orgeron’s desire to move his offense in a different direction seems apparent. If there is a professional divorce, Freeze would be waiting in the wings.
If Canada does return in 2018, Freeze would be a great resource on staff to work with quarterbacks and help with game-planning against the SEC. After all, Freeze managed to do in consecutive years what LSU has not done in seven tries: beat Alabama.
Speaking of Alabama, hasn’t Nick Saban been the king of hoarding assistants and stashing them away on his staff? It was mighty convenient to be able to turn to former USC coach Steve Sarkisian a year ago when Lane Kiffin left to become coach at Florida Atlantic. Why couldn’t Freeze serve in a similar role in Baton Rouge?
There is also the added benefit of trying to lure current Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson to LSU. He announced Saturday he will seek a transfer, but Ole Miss has blocked him from leaving for any other SEC school. There are waivers, though, and while it seems like a long shot, it might be even more enticing to pursue with Freeze in tow.
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