UT coaching search: Freeze’s opportunities

UT coaching search: Freeze’s opportunities

Football

UT coaching search: Freeze’s opportunities

KNOXVILLE – Tennessee is in its ninth day of a coaching search to replace offensive coordinator Tyson Helton.

Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has been a candidate to join Tennessee’s staff and remains a free agent on the coaching trail Tuesday night.

Freeze’s name has been associated with Liberty’s head coaching job after Turner Gill resigned from his position Monday. On the ninth day of the search, Vols Wire discussed Freeze with Liberty officials.

Vols Wire has been told that Gill’s resignation was not a surprise for his family, but was for Liberty administration. A Flames coach also told Vols Wire Monday night that he was surprised about Gill’s announcement. Liberty officials told Vols Wire that they would like to move quick in finding a head coach, especially with recruiting in full swing.

When asked about Freeze potentially being hired by Liberty as head coach, officials told Vols Wire that they are excited about the future of the program, but did not comment on Freeze specifically.

Vols Wire learned through sources Tuesday night that Freeze will have discussions with Liberty and that the administration would like to complete their search by the end of next week.

Vols Wire also discussed Freeze and his potential hire with his friend David Nasser who serves as Liberty’s Pastor and Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development.

“I believe he (Freeze) is the kind of candidate that we would look for,” Nasser told Vols Wire Tuesday night.

In Nasser’s own belief, he thinks Freeze would be one of a handful of people that would be a good fit in replacing Gill.

His belief centers around two things.

“Number one, he is a proven football coach and does not have to prove himself,” he said. “Number two, he is a strong believer and a strong man of faith.”

Nasser also discussed Liberty’s support of athletics and football with Jerry Falwell Jr. assuming the presidency at Liberty.

Liberty announced it would transition to the FBS in July 2017, becoming a provisional member and playing as an Independent in 2018. In 2019, Liberty will become a full FBS member that includes the possibility of bowl eligibility.

“Jerry Falwell Jr. has the vision and he understands the value of what athletics bring to the table for a university,” Nasser said. “You have a leader that is committed in growing the program. You have a student base that loves football, you have facilities – everything is happening here.”

Birmingham-based insider Nick Taylor also discussed Freeze’s Liberty discussion process with Vols Wire, along with other schools being heavily interested in the former Ole Miss head coach.

“Jerry Falwell Jr. is going to sell Freeze to being a building block in a 12-15 year plan to grow Liberty football into a BYU-type Independent program and they are going to make it hard for him to turn down their offer,” Taylor said. “Tennessee not already getting a deal complete with Freeze has opened a big door for him at Liberty after Gill’s sudden retirement along with Freeze’s other opportunities at other Power 5 schools.”

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