Evidently Nick Saban is far from alone with that sentiment.
According to this Al.com story, at least five SEC schools had contact with Freeze about on-field jobs this offseason. All five were supposedly shot down by Greg Sankey. (I say “supposedly” because the SEC office wouldn’t comment on the story.)
Multiple SEC schools looked into hiring Freeze as their offensive coordinator, including LSU and Missouri, but no deal was ever reached because of the league’s opposition, according to sources. Freeze was publicly linked to the Missouri offensive coordinator position before Barry Odom hired former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
While it seems implausible a coach as influential and successful as Saban couldn’t get what he wanted, a nearly year-old SEC bylaw gives the league’s commissioner additional oversight into schools’ hiring practices. According to bylaw 220.127.116.11, a school must consult directly with Sankey before offering a job to a coach “who has engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted, or may result, in a Level I, Level II or major infraction.”
That’s relevant because Ole Miss received a two-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions through 2018-19 and had to vacate wins after the program was deemed to have “fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting,” according to the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
The committee, though, seemingly viewed it as more an institutional than Freeze issue at Ole Miss. While multiple Ole Miss assistants and staffers received multi-year show-cause penalties, Freeze was hit with only a two-game conference suspension should any school hire him as a head coach before Nov. 30.
All of which seemingly begs the question, if this was more of an institutional problem than a personal one, why is Hugh Freeze currently persona non grata with the SEC, while Ole Miss isn’t?