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Liberty HC Hugh Freeze to Coach from Hospital Bed Because of Staph Infection

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2019

Liberty head football coach Hugh Freeze arrives to coach from a wheelchair in the coaches' box against Syracuse in an NCAA college football game in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Bell)
Matt Bell/Associated Press

A health issue will keep Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze from being on the sidelines as his team takes on the 22nd-ranked Syracuse Orange on Saturday, but it won't stop him from coaching during the game.

According to Stephen Bailey of Syracuse.com, Freeze will work from a hospital bed in the coaches' booth.

Yahoo Sports tweeted out a picture of Freeze coaching from the booth:

Yahoo Sports College Football @YahooSportsCFB

Here's Hugh Freeze coaching from his hospital bed https://t.co/SSURR2KErM

The 49-year-old underwent surgery on Aug. 16 after a "potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection entered his bloodstream" and worsened the pain in his back caused by a herniated disk. Bailey noted Freeze is most comfortable when reclined.

According to Hank Kurz Jr. of the Associated Press, Freeze plans to address his team by video before the game, during halftime and after the game.

The first-year Liberty coach revealed to ESPN's Chris Low earlier this month that he had been dealing with back pain for years but it reached a new level during a scrimmage. At that point, his back had tightened up to the point where it was difficult for him to climb up the stairs at his house and, ultimately, to walk in general.

Freeze was transported to the hospital by an ambulance the next day and doctors later discovered a staph infection. Freeze explained to Low how doctors caught the infection just in time to prevent it from potentially threatening his life:

"The doctors told me if it had been another 24 hours, that strand of bacteria could have gotten to my heart and that I would have been fighting for my life. It's the way God works because there's no doubt that bacteria would have killed me if President Falwell wasn't so quick to make sure we got the right people involved."

Since then, he has had to get creative in how he has coached:

Game On LU @GameOnLU

Even back surgery can't keep @CoachHughFreeze from coaching his @LibertyFootball team. But now he's doing it from a nearby hotel room! https://t.co/urdVjeAwAK

Freeze has been away from college football the past two seasons following his five-year run at Ole Miss coming to an end amid an NCAA investigation for recruiting and academic violations. He resigned in July 2017 after it was discovered during the investigation that he made phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service.

Ole Miss received, among other punishments, three years of probation and a two-year postseason ban as a result of the scandal.

Liberty hired Freeze in December 2018.