If he doesn’t land that job could he be the primary choice for Lane Kiffin and FAU?
Freeze doesn’t come without baggage, but Kiffin hasn’t shied away from making a controversial hire if he believes it will improve the Owls’ football team.
After all, he’s looking to replace Kendal Briles, who Kiffin brought to FAU despite the cloud of the Baylor sexual abuse scandal hanging over the Baylor program, and more specifically over former Baylor head coach Art Briles, Kendal’s father.
Hiring Kendal, a decision derided by many, benefited the Owls on the football field. Under Briles FAU boasted a Top 10 offense nationally and the Owls cruised to an 11-3 record, a Conference USA championship and the Boca Raton Bowl title in Kiffin’s first year.
Briles left FAU to become Houston’s offensive coordinator following the Owls’ Boca Raton Bowl victory, and FAU’s offensive coordinator position has been open since.
Freeze resigned as the head coach at Ole Miss prior to the 2017 season after the discovery that he used a university issued phone to call a number associated with an escort service. At the time of the revelation the NCAA had already launched an investigation into Mississippi for providing improper benefits to athletes and recruits, among other issues.
During the fall the NCAA slapped Ole Miss with penalties that included probation, a postseason ban, scholarship reductions and the show cause on Freeze. If hired, Freeze would have to serve a two-game suspension, but again, that appears to only applies to schools looking to hire Freeze as a head coach.
Freeze enjoyed a rocket-like rise through the college coaching ranks.
After spending nine seasons as a high school head coach, Freeze accepted the tight ends coaching job at Mississippi in 2006. He left the Rebels in 2008 to become the head coach at NAIA Lambuth.
Freeze jumped back to Division I in 2010, becoming the offensive coordinator at Arkansas St. One year later, in his lone season as head coach of Arkansas St., Freeze led the Red Wolves to the Sun Belt title and a GoDaddy Bowl victory. In five years as Mississippi’s head coach he led the Rebels to a 64-39 record that included several high-profile victories.
During his 13 months as FAU’s head coach, Kiffin has demonstrated a willingness to give second chances. He named his brother Chris, a former Mississippi defensive line coach under Freeze, defensive coordinator despite Chris’ name being attached to that same NCAA investigation into the Rebels. The NCAA eventually placed a two-year show cause penalty on Chris, who turned what had been a porous FAU defense the year prior into one of the most improved defenses in the nation last season.
Several other FAU assistants also came to Boca Raton with at least one blemish on their records, but all helped turn the Owls from a 3-9 team into an 11-game winner.
By interviewing with Alabama Freeze demonstrated his desire to get back into college football. If Tide coach Nick Saban elects not to bring Freeze to Tuscaloosa, could Freeze see a year under Kiffin, one of Saban’s former offensive coordinators, as a good way to rehabilitate his image while waiting for the head coaching show cause to expire?
There is no indication from FAU that this could happen, but the way the Lane Train’s been rolling lately, anything seems possible.