Who will ever forget Sandra Bullock’s constant grumbling to coach Burt Cotton in the Academy Award winning film The Blind Side? The story of Michael Oher and his journey to the NFL is heartwarming and, now, it might be time to start on a sequel. Coach Cotton in the movie is really coach Hugh Freeze, a native Mississipian who today landed his dream job as he was named the new head football coach at the University of Mississippi.
Freeze, a graduate of Southern Mississippi in 1992, got his first coaching job at Briarcrest Christian School (the real name of the movie’s Wingate Christian School) that very same year. He was the team’s offensive coordinator and defensive backs coach before being named the head coach in 1995. Freeze won two state titles (2002 and 2004) at Briarcrest and was named the Region 8-AA Coach of the Year five times and the Associated Press Coach of the Year six times.
Freeze then followed his standout offensive lineman, Oher, the Mississippi where, in 2005, he became an assistant athletic director for football external affairs. The next season he would become the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, positions he held until 2007 when then head coach Ed Orgeron was let go. In 2008 Freeze found himself coaching at NAIA Lambuth University (TN) where he went 20-5 in two seasons including an 11-0 perfect regular season in 2009. The school went to its first playoff game in 11 years and finished the year at 12-1 and the sixth-ranked team in all of NAIA.
In 2010 Freeze joined the coaching staff at Arkansas State as offensive coordinator and after Steve Roberts resigned at the end of the season, Freeze was named the new head coach. The Red Wolves have thrived under Freeze’s potent spread offense, but, surprisingly, have been very good on defense as well, ranking 15th in the country in scoring defense yielding 19.3 points per game.
Freeze inherits a team that did not win an SEC game this year, going 0-8 in the conference and 2-10 overall, one of the wins versus FCS (formerly Div. I-AA) Southern Illinois. With a defense ranked near the bottom of FBS in several categories and an offense that is not much better, the task ahead will be mighty, but Freeze has won everywhere he has been. He is busy putting together his staff and reportedly his receivers coach Grant Heard and his defensive line coach Chris Kiffin will follow him from Arkansas State to their new home at Ole Miss.