Auburn brings Hugh Freese returned to the Southeastern Conference as the head coach of the Tigers, more than five years after his departure from SEC West rival Mississippi State amid both personal and NCAA scandals.
Auburn Athletic Director John Cohen announced on Monday the hiring of Freese, who has spent the last four seasons as a coach at the Liberty.
“After a thoughtful, thorough and well-reviewed search, we ended where we started with Hugh Freese,” Cohen said in a statement. “Of all the candidates we considered, Hugh was the best fit. Fit has several meanings, but the most important factors were student-athlete development, football strategy, recruiting, and SEC experience.”
Cohen was hired on October 31, the same day Auburn fired the coach. Brian Hars after going 9-12 in less than two seasons in a proud program that has fallen on hard times.
Freese is officially 76-47 in 13 seasons as a head coach at Lambut, Arkansas State, Mississippi and the Liberty, but he has baggage that needs to be scrutinized by Auburn.
Auburn credits him with a 103-47 on-field record, but he had 27 Ole Miss wins vacated due to NCAA infractions.
Freese called Auburn “one of the standout programs in college football”. His daughter Jordan studied at Auburn and lives in the area.
“I can’t wait to work with our student athletes and the Auburn family to bring championships back to the Plains,” Freese said in a statement.
The 53-year-old Oxford, Mississippi native led the Rebels to a 39-25 record and four bowl games and even beat Auburn’s archrival Alabama in back-to-back seasons.
He resigned in the summer of 2017 after school officials uncovered a “scheme of misconduct” that began with a call to an escort number on a university-issued mobile phone.
This came after the NCAA launched an investigation into rule violations committed by the Freeze football program.
The NCAA found 21 academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct violations, most of which occurred under Freese’s supervision. The rule violation resulted in Ole Miss receiving probation, including a two-year postseason ban and hiring restrictions.
The NCAA ruling states that Freese helped create an atmosphere of compliance but failed to supervise his staff. Freese received what would have been a light punishment: a two-game conference suspension if he had coached in 2018.
Instead, a case of personal misconduct was uncovered and he was forced to resign in July 2017.
He was out of college coaching for two years before moving to the Liberty in 2019, where he went 34-15, including 8-4 this year. The Flames ended the season with three straight losses, including a 49–14 loss to New Mexico State.
Freese acknowledged his interest in the Auburn job after that game on Saturday.
Auburn’s Freese hiring process slowed over the weekend after a former student of Liberty, who had been in contact with the coach via social media over the summer, emailed Auburn officials about a direct message he sent her.
The AP received a copy of a letter the woman sent to Cohen, athletic director, and President Chris Roberts on Saturday urging the school not to hire Freese.
The woman was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Liberty. She claimed she was sexually abused at school and a settlement was reached in the case.
“I would like to remind the Auburn administration that Liberty University is currently under a federal investigation by the Department of Education for covering up sexual assault,” she wrote in an email.
“I have talked many times with those who are investigating. As an injured alum who was informed by Hugh Freese, I am concerned for the Auburn alumni community, the current students who will participate in the football program, and Auburn’s spirit, if that’s the case.”
Her sexual assault case and Department of Energy investigations preceded Freese’s time at Liberty.
In July, Freese sent a brief direct message to a woman defending the Liberty athletic director. Ian McCawabout which the woman left negative comments.
Auburn looked into the matter and found that Freese was unaware of the lawsuit.
On the field, Freese has a track record of building winning teams and exciting offenses.
He helped turn Auburn’s former backup Malik Willis into a star quarterback for the Liberty. In April, Willis was selected in the third round of the Tennessee Titans draft.
Auburn defender Robbie Ashford posted a message to Freeze on Twitter: “Welcome to the Plains, let’s get to work, we have unfinished business.”
Freese returns to SEC West to try to revive the Auburn program, which has been a great success but has also struggled to maintain it for the past two decades.
Auburn won the national title in 2010 under Gene Chisick and played another three years later in Gus MalzanFirst season. But the Tigers haven’t played in an SEC championship since 2017 and haven’t won a championship since 2013.
Runner Coach Carnell Williams, a former Auburn All-American and NFL first-round player, was interim coach for the last four games of the season. Auburn went 2-2 and lost 49-27 in the regular season finale to Alabama to finish 5-7.
Freese said that Williams did an “incredible job” as interim coach. “The impact he has had is immeasurable and cannot be overestimated,” Freese said.
Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Big Ten punished the state of Michigan and the state of Michigan for their role in the stadium tunnel brawls that resulted in seven Spartans being charged with crimes.
The conference announced on Monday that it would fine the state of Michigan $100,000 for its players “hitting, kicking, or using their helmet” to hit Michigan players and disqualify a quarterback. Hari Krampwho faces criminal liability for the first eight games of next season.
The Big Ten also reprimand Michigan for not providing adequate protection to both teams as they left the playing field.
“The Big Ten Conference has a standard of excellence in both academic and athletic terms that has been in the making for over 127 years,” said the Big Ten commissioner. Kevin Warrenwho visited the game a month ago and has a son, Powers Warren, which is a tight end for the Spartans. “Our standards require that our student-athletes, coaches and staff represent the conference and its member institutions with the highest levels of propriety and sportsmanship.
“We are taking disciplinary action and will continue to work with our member institutions to strengthen their matchday procedures and ensure our esteemed traditions are upheld.”
The Big Ten said the season-ending suspension for seven other Michigan State players was enough. The conference also said the schools duly addressed the football club employee who violated the Big Ten’s non-tunnel quarrel sports behavior policy.
Last Wednesday, the Washtenaw County Attorney’s Office indicted seven Michigan State football players for their actions on October 29 after a game at Michigan Stadium.
The most serious indictment is against Crump, who is charged with one count of felony assault and the other six players face misdemeanor charges. Crump, in one video, appears to be swinging his helmet at a Michigan player. This may explain the more serious charge, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. State law describes criminal assault as assault “with a knife, iron bar, club, brass knuckles, or other dangerous weapon, without the intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.”
Midfielder Itaivion “Tank” Brown, Security Angelo Grosecornerback Justin White, quarterback Brandon Wright and defensive end Xion Young each charged with one count of aggravated assault when the linebacker Jacob Windmon faces one count of assault and battery. A conviction for a misdemeanor related to assault carries a prison sentence of up to one year, while a misdemeanor and battery carries a maximum penalty of 93 days behind bars.
“Our institution does not condone the disturbing actions of some of our student athletes,” Michigan Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff. “At the same time, we are collectively challenging ourselves to be thoughtful in how we approach this situation so as not to cause further harm unnecessarily.
“It seems that disciplinary outcomes lack the learning opportunities that can and should coexist with the identification of guilt. We must ask ourselves: Are we doing enough as leaders to help improve safety in our competitions through meaningful action and learning? Or are we risking the opportunities and livelihoods of young people by not creating change for future success?”
Spartans cornerback Malcolm Jones, one of the suspended players, is not charged, nor are the Michigan players.
Following the Wolverine’s 29-7 win over state rivals, social media posts showed that Michigan players had beaten Michigan State. Da Den McBurrows in and next to the corridor, which does not lead to any of the dressing rooms. The video clearly shows Brown, Grose and Young exercising with McBurroughs.
McBurrows slipped into the tunnel after the game, and defenseman Haemon Green climbed up it with the Spartans, while most of the Michigan team waved to the Spartans from the field.
Greene, in another post, is surrounded by police, yelling through a tunnel at Michigan players.
The prosecutor’s office did not provide details of the charges, including who is accusing whom of the beating. It is not yet clear when the accused players will first appear in court.
No. 2 Michigan captured the Big Ten Eastern Division title by defeating rival Ohio State and is set to take on unranked Purdue in the conference championship game. The win would give the Wolverines a place in the college football playoffs.
Michigan State won five games under a third-year coach Mel Tuckerwho helped them go 11-2 last season with…