Hugh Freeze, Auburn Agree to Reported 6-Year, $39M Contract as Head Coach

Doric SamNovember 28, 2022

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - NOVEMBER 05:  Head Coach Hugh Freeze of the Liberty Flames on the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Flames defeated the Razorbacks 21-19.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Liberty football head coach Hugh Freeze is returning to the SEC.

The Auburn Tigers announced Monday they had hired Freeze as the 31st head coach in the football program's history. ESPN's Chris Low previously reported a deal was done.

ESPN's Pete Thamel reported Freeze's deal will be for six years and have an average salary of $6.5 million per year.

Freeze had previously coached at Ole Miss from 2012 to 2016. He resigned prior to the 2017 season after admitting to personal misconduct.

Thamel reported Saturday that Freeze and Auburn had informally been engaged in contract discussions for "more than a week," with an offer expected to come after Saturday's Iron Bowl against No. 7 Alabama. The Tigers lost the game 49-27 to end the regular season with a 5-7 record and 2-6 conference record, ranking sixth in the SEC West.

Freeze coached Liberty to an 8-4 record this season, though the Flames ended the year with three consecutive losses. Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger added that Auburn will owe Liberty "around $3 million" as part of a buyout for hiring Freeze.

Since being hired by Liberty in December 2018, the 53-year-old led the team to a 34-15 record over four seasons and helped the Flames qualify for bowl games for the first time in program history. The Flames gone 3-0 in postseason matchups under Freeze.

During his time at Ole Miss, Freeze had coached the Rebels to a 39-25 record.

An NCAA investigation uncovered recruiting violations, most of which occurred under Freeze, while school officials found Freeze used a university cellphone to contact a number affiliated with an escort service. Following the NCAA investigation, Ole Miss had to vacate 33 wins, 27 of which were under Freeze. Sanctions also included a two-year postseason ban, a three-year probation period and scholarship reductions.

Freeze has only had one losing season in his 12 years as a college football head coach. He now will be at the helm of an Auburn program that hasn't finished higher than third in the SEC West since 2017 and has lost three consecutive bowl games.