Nick Saban, Alabama Reportedly Blocked from Hiring Hugh Freeze by SEC

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2013, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks with Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze before an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The 15th-ranked Rebels and No. 2 Alabama take center stage in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night for a game with no shortage of story lines. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reportedly blocked Nick Saban's hiring of former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to his Alabama staff.

John Talty and Matt Zenitz of AL.com reported Monday:

"It was only a few days after Saban's mid-January meeting with Freeze that he learned he couldn't make the hire. Sankey informed both Freeze and Alabama that it would look bad for the SEC for Freeze to be back coaching in the league while Ole Miss suffered from NCAA penalties incurred under his watch. The SEC preferred that Freeze, who resigned in July following a 'pattern of personal misconduct,' go off the radar for at least a little while before trying to return to work at one of its schools."

Saban has a "strong respect" for Freeze after losing to him twice, according to the AL.com report, and wanted to hire him as a co-offensive coordinator and position coach.

Alabama was looking to add a co-offensive coordinator after Brian Daboll left the team to become the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Instead, former co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Locksley was promoted to offensive coordinator, and former Penn State assistant Josh Gattis was hired to fill Locksley's former role.

Per Talty and Zenitz, at least five SEC schools were interested in Freeze, and both LSU and Missouri considered him for their offensive coordinator roles.

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Freeze resigned from Ole Miss in July after the university discovered "a pattern of personal misconduct," including a call from his university-issued phone to a female escort service. Ole Miss is also facing a bowl ban in 2018 and scholarship reductions for a number of recruiting violations. Freeze was given a two-game conference suspension in those findings, though it only applies if he's a head coach.

"I really believe I have a lot to offer a program whether as an assistant or a head coach, and I'm hopeful it's very soon," Freeze told Rachel Baribeau of Gridiron Now in December. "That program will get a very determined, motivated, better Coach Freeze if given a second chance."

It appears that won't happen for Freeze in the SEC in 2018.