I’m really enjoying the continuing saga of Hugh Freeze and Alabama. There are more than a few behind the scenes twists and turns and I can’t wait to see how they sort out.
To start with, it sounds unlikely that Freeze will be named the new offensive coordinator. Most of the Internet chatter points to a promotion from within the staff for Mike Locksley, who has OC experience and is also an excellent recruiter.
That being said, Freeze isn’t out of the picture. It’s complicated. Here’s what TideSports is reporting:
Earlier this week, I reported that former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had been in Tuscaloosa and at UA to meet with Saban. Saban respects Freeze’s offensive mind, and given the fact Ole Miss gave Alabama fits during Freeze’s tenure it’s easy to see why. So what would Freeze’s role be if Saban hired him? It’s a great question and one that, as of Tuesday morning, hadn’t been settled upon yet. Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach, The Tuscaloosa News has learned. Others in the program don’t want that happening. How much autonomy Saban has in this particular situation is unknown given Freeze’s recent history with the NCAA. Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.
Sankey denying Freeze? Perhaps, if you take this info at face value.
The problem I have with the word “blocked” there is that I don’t believe Sankey has the power to make a unilateral call like that. Nor am I certain it would be legal, even if he did. Tom Fornelli says much the same thing:
However, sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd differently, saying the SEC does not have the ability to stand in the way of Saban hiring Freeze. While an SEC bylaw states a school is supposed to consult commissioner Greg Sankey when it wishes to hire an individual with major NCAA violations, the hiring decision is ultimately made by the school, not the conference.
Freeze was hit with a two-game suspension by the NCAA, but only as a head coach. He could serve as Alabama’s offensive coordinator without missing any time, but he still has that NCAA baggage.
Does anybody really believe that Nick Saban is in the least bit concerned about NCAA baggage? All that likely means is that Alabama’s AD is caught between the crossfire of Saban’s wishes and Sankey’s preference.
But the story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the presence of one other influential individual. Per FootballScoop,
Mike Locksley is expected to take over as offensive coordinator sources tell FootballScoop. Hugh Freeze has now met with Nick Saban. We hear Jimmy Sexton believes this is the right way to get Hugh back into things. Although this is not a done deal, most coaches we speak with believe Hugh will wind up at Alabama in some capacity. [Emphasis added.]
Nick’s just tryin’ to help a brotha’ out, y’all. If you’re the ‘Bama AD, do you really want to get on the bad side of Nick and Jimmy? I bet he’s been reassuring himself over the last day or so that Sankey will get over it.