The majority of the Ole Miss Rebel faithful just didn't know what to expect of head coach Hugh Freeze when the 2012-13 football season began. Who honestly did?
Looking back after a convincing win against Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl, Rebel fans should be very proud of what Freeze is doing for Ole Miss on and off the gridiron. He truly “gets it.”
Sure the coaching staff and players far surpassed expectations by posting a seven-win season, including wins in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State, and a trip to a bowl game for the first time since 2009-10. It was an amazing season in Oxford.
More important though, as a family man with young girls, it's far more impressive that the “culture” off the field that Freeze brings both the Ole Miss program and college football at-large.
Let’s face it, SEC coaches are paid the big bucks to win. Freeze knows that, and he’s building a winner at Ole Miss. However, it’s the little things he does that aren't a part of his daily tasks that stand out.
What are those little things? The easiest way to see for yourself is to follow @CoachHughFreeze on Twitter. You will be pleasantly surprised, regardless of your team or conference affiliation.
#wintheday—many Ole Miss fans know this is a Twitter hashtag associated with the coach, but what are it’s origins?
Freeze best explained the hashtag’s meaning to CBS commentator Tim Brando a few years ago:
“I believe, whatever state we’re in, whatever situation you’re in in life or football, the one thing we have equal at Ole Miss with Alabama, LSU, or whoever – the only thing we have equal is time. You can look at budgets, you can look at resources, you can look at facilities, you can look at coaching experience, at whatever you want, but the only thing we have that’s guaranteed to be equal with those other schools and people we’ll play next year is time. So how do we take advantage of that is to make the most out of today. So that’s where I got “Win the Day” from. And the second part of that is every single day our staff, we’re charged with finding three things that we must do, we have to accomplish today to make sure the day was a success, that we won the day.”
The #wintheday ideal can be applied to all aspects of life on and off the field; for players, fans and even people who don’t like football.
Besides this popular Twitter hashtag, peruse Freeze’s tweets throughout a week to see how he “daily” interacts with his current and former players, fans and the media. He’s down-to-earth, and genuine to boot. A rare combination in the pressure-cooker that is SEC football coaching today. But again, he “gets it” on and off the field.
For example, an early morning inspirational tweet from the coach as 2012 neared an end:
Why not Wrapup your year with forgiveness of a hurt, a note of appreciation to a friend, a kind act, or letting go of bitterness.#Healing
Freeze is providing his coaching staff, players and the Ole Miss fan base with inspiration on how to live a quality everyday life. Do more than a handful of other college football coaches in the country deliver such daily messages? Not a chance.
In the uber-competitive world of college football—where too many coaches live by the cut-throat “win at all costs” model—the humble Ole Miss leader should be commended for doing the little things in life that have already changed the culture at Ole Miss.
He’s building a winner on the field that will continue to improve in the years ahead, but more importantly he’s the type of man off the field that all college football fans can be proud of in life.