Report: Hugh Freeze in Talks to Become Auburn HC; Lane Kiffin Rumors Cool

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 26, 2022

Hugh Freeze
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze is reportedly in discussions with Auburn about filling the Tigers' head coaching vacancy after Saturday's Iron Bowl against Alabama.

ESPN's Pete Thamel reported the sides have been in talks about contract terms "for more than [a] week" but a formal offer isn't expected until after the regular season wraps up against the Crimson Tide.

The emergence of Freeze as the potential favorite comes as links between Auburn and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin have "significantly cooled" in recent days, per Thamel.

Freeze has guided Liberty to an 8-3 record ahead of its regular-season finale against New Mexico State on Saturday. The Flames own a 34-14 mark since he took over the program ahead of the 2019 campaign.

The 53-year-old Mississippi native has SEC experience, guiding Ole Miss to a 39-25 record across five seasons starting in 2012, and led the Arkansas State coaching staff for one year in 2011.

Freeze resigned from his role with the Rebels in 2017 after then-Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said the university found a "troubling" pattern of calls on his school-issued cellphone, including calls to a female escort service.

"All the walls came crumbling down when what I thought was a private sin that I had struggled with, confessed to my wife to two of my friends in 2016, that I thought I was dealing with and was in my rear-view mirror, when it became public knowledge," Freeze said in 2018.

If hired, he'll be tasked with transforming Auburn back into a consistent contender. The Tigers haven't finished inside the postseason Top 25 since 2019.

Meanwhile, the Kiffin rumors have begun to fade, with his family expressing their desire to remain in Mississippi, per Thamel.

Kiffin was asked Thursday whether he expected to remain with the Rebels for 2023 and provided a simple response: "Yes, I do."

Ole Miss finished the regular season at 8-4 after a rivalry loss to Mississippi State on Thursday night.

Saturday's Iron Bowl is set for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on CBS. A clearer outlook about Auburn's next head coach should come after the contest, with Freeze seemingly holding the inside track.