MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is still jobless, close to a year and a half after an embarrassing scandal that led to his resignation from the school.
Freeze was the Touchdown Club of Memphis' guest speaker on Monday, where he told reporters he’s learned from his short comings with the Rebels and is ready to move on, and embrace his next coaching opportunity.
On what he’s been doing since leaving Ole Miss: "It’s a mixture really of Jill (Freeze) and I speaking at different places that will have us, and share our story. Any consulting work for a few colleges that have invited me in. A little bit of work for ESPN. Between that and watching my daughter play volleyball, playing a little golf and watching a lot of film and games to make sure I stay on top of things we can do better if I ever get the opportunity to get back in it. Outside of that, that keeps my schedule pretty full though. I’ve accepted a lot of speaking engagements this fall. Between that and doing a little consulting work and my daughter’s schedules, it keeps me pretty busy.”
Why he’s coming back into the public now: "I wanted to jump back out there right away. That’s the way I’m made, is what’s been done, obviously I have to own the good, the bad, the ugly. Whatever it is. The issue with me in my personal life goes way back, much earlier than when it was reported. For Jill and I, it was something we thought was kind of old and in our past, but I still think when it initially comes out you got to let everything calm down, but you get to a point where you’re like, ‘man it’s time to get busy living.’ How long do you have to stay in a position to feel like you can’t be yourself, and it’s time for me to move forward. Whatever that looks like. I don’t know exactly yet. I think anybody that’s made a poor choice or mistake or a failure of any kind, at some point you’ve got to pickup and move on. There’s still people that count on you to be who you really are. One thing, one mistake, one decision doesn’t define you. Grateful to have an awesome wife, and three great daughters, parents, and friends that just support you. I’m sure there are people who would just like for me to go away forever, but I don’t really understand that mentality. I think everybody deserves a chance to be who they are, and to pursue their gifts and goals. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but it’s time to move on.”
What he would say to Athletic Directors to hire him: "Well, if you look at what my track record is, I’ve been able to take programs, high school, small college, middle college, power five and turn them around pretty quickly in all cases. I think the kids that have played in it, I think our core values have been good for them. Even in something in my personal life I failed in, I don’t think that disqualifies you from being a good person. Certainly it was a poor decision, and I regret the heck out of it. I wish I could change things a thousand times over, but I think you look at that record then let Jill and I share our story with you. We’ll be very transparent about it, and tell you what is was and what it wasn’t, and hopefully that’s enough for someone to give you a chance.”
On job opportunities: "Last year’s opportunities came and went. You kind of settle into what do I do with the time that I have, and I’ve chosen to invest into the people that have come into my life. My family and others too that are going through difficult times. We can share our story with them, and hopefully be helpful. I’m prepared. I know that. I’ve prepared very hard to be better than I was before, and hopefully that opportunity will come soon.”
What he learned from NCAA investigation at Ole Miss: "You re-live and revisit everything you could’ve done differently. To clarify, the NCAA found me very compliant as a head coach. Setting the proper tone of compliance. They did find me in failure to monitor the booster activity of some of your staff members. When you get that ruling you look back and you say, ‘what could I have done differently?’ There are some things I will definitely pay more attention to should I be given the next opportunity. The penalty I’ve received for that is over November 30th of this year, and hopefully we’ll be ready to move forward.”
What he misses the most about coaching: "Missing the players, competition and the coaches. Those three things. You miss the locker room. You miss the relationship with the players, the coaches and the grind. Trying to find a way to compete and win a football game in a very difficult environment in most cases in the SEC against really good teams, and that drives a lot of people. Competition has always done that for me, and I just miss those. Miss the kids and the coaches the most.”
On Ole Miss' chances of beating Alabama in 2018: "I’m not sitting in the film rooms with them now so it’s hard to know exactly what the game plans are. I think Alabama has proven again that they’re the gold standard in the conference. You’ve got to find a way to slow them down with Tua, which has been a difficult task for teams so far. I do think Ole Miss’ offense, that we recruited some really good players there, have the ability to score points. You’re going to have to score a bunch to beat Alabama, and I think Ole Miss is one of the few teams that can score with the right game plan and execution.”
On not getting to work with Rebels OC Phil Longo after bringing him to Ole Miss: "I thought me and Phil would’ve been a really good combo, because he has some ideas that would’ve added to our stuff. We were already pretty good offensively in my five years there. Really loved his verbiage, and was really excited about working with him and the other guys that are on that staff that are good friends and dear to me. I miss all of that.”
Why job opportunities have fallen through despite interest from schools: "I’m honored that several schools reached out to me to judge interest or whatever you call it. All of them ended up in some shape and form not coming through. I’m not the right guy to probably ask that, because I’m not in any of those discussions. I have great respect for the SEC office and the other coaches that felt good enough about me as a person and coach to reach out to me. That’s somebody else’s question to answer. I just try to use it as maybe it was the best thing for me to have another year to really spend quality time with family and other friends.”
How he wants Ole Miss fans to remember him: "In time I hope and pray that the Ole Miss people can say, ‘man we enjoyed the heck out of his, or at least the portion of his five years there,’ and remember the great things that we had some giddy moments over. It’s fine with me for them to say, ‘we hate the way it ended. Something with his personal life made the administration feel like it was a separation needed.’ I have to own that. If I hadn’t done anything there never would’ve been any talk of that. That’s my fault, and I have to own that, but I sure hope that they can celebrate the good times we had. That’s the way I’d like to be remembered. Time will tell if that happens or not.”