Auburn, Hugh Freeze have discussed coaching job for weeks, sources say

Auburn has been in talks with Liberty coach Hugh Freeze for weeks about becoming the school’s next coach, sources have told ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Sources said the Tigers won’t make a formal offer until after Saturday’s Iron Bowl game against Alabama, but the sides have been talking informally about a contract for more than a week.

Auburn’s quest for freeze came into focus when Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said earlier this week that he intended to remain with the Rebels even if the Tigers offered him their position as head coach. Sources told ESPN’s Chris Low on Saturday that Kiffin had repeated to Ole Miss staff and officials that he was staying at the school.

Freeze would return to the SEC after five seasons with Ole Miss from 2012 to 2016. Freeze went 39-25 for the Rebels before resigning in July 2017 after it was discovered he had used a university-provided cellphone to call a number connected to a female escort service.

But the 53-year-old rose to prominence again with the Flames. After Turner Gill went 6-6 in Liberty’s first full-time FBS season in 2018, Freeze raised the bar, going 8-5, 10-1 and 8-5 in his first three seasons. That run included one Cure Bowl win over No. 9 Coastal Carolina in 2020.

The Flames are 8-3 this season, including a win over Arkansas on Nov. 5.

Sources told ESPN that Freeze’s winning history and studying his analytics and quarterback development made him attractive. Auburn officials also viewed Freeze as a community-fitting elite, with an outgoing personality that fit the program’s small-town vibe.

Freeze signed a new eight-year deal with Liberty in October. His salary, which sources say Thamel was just under $5 million a year, made him one of the highest-paid coaches in Group 5.

Auburn fired Bryan Harsin on October 31 after a four-game losing streak dropped the Tigers to 3-5 in the season. They are 2-1 under caretaker coach Cadillac Williams, a former star running back at the school. Auburn, Hugh Freeze have discussed coaching job for weeks, sources say

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