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Auburn News and Notes: 7/25/17 Edition

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Gus Malzahn lost a colleague and friend in the coaching business this week (photo: Auburn Media file)

“You know, I mean, Hugh is one of my good friends in this business. He’s one of the good guys in college football.” Those words, in one form or fashion, have been said many times by Gus Malzahn about Hugh Freeze. We may never know the extent of Freeze’s indiscretions, and it may not be fair to judge a man based upon a single one-minute phone call. What we do know is that what we all thought of Freeze and the Ole Miss program circa signing day 2013.

Auburn has landed some terrific signing classes, but the class that the Rebels landed in 2013 was astounding in any frame of reference, whether compared to Alabama or to the history of a floundering Ole Miss program. From the very beginning, it seemed that something wasn’t right in The Grove, and that feeling was exacerbated with two straight wins over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. All the bits of evidence, taken separately, could be dismissed. All together, it painted a picture of possible corruption. 

Hugh Freeze could have fooled just about everyone, especially rabid fans of the program. However, you can’t tell me that he could fool his athletic director. It’s just as hard for me to know what to make of a “good friend” of his to be that fooled. The question is, were Freeze and Malzhan just not as close as they let on, was Malzahn covering for his close friend, or was Gus duped? 

***

Basketball star Austin Wiley suffered a stress fracture in his left leg during a quarterfinal game against Germany. As most know, Team USA took home the bronze. Wiley was playing fantastic basketball, averaging a double-double during the tournament. He was the only American to do so, despite averaging under 20 minutes per contest. The rising sophomore will not play when Auburn takes a trip to Italy, and the injury will set him back four to six weeks.

It is slightly disconcerting to see this injury because big men of Wiley’s size sometimes suffer from chronic leg and knee injuries. Wiley will not need surgery, but it is imperative that he make the most of his rest time for Auburn basketball is just 100-odd days away. It surely seems that Auburn and Coach Bruce Pearl are on the precipice of greatness this coming season. To do that, Wiley and Chuma Okeke must get healthy. (Okeke went home early with a knee injury.)

***

The Team USA Women’s Fastpitch Team took on the Alabama All-Stars in Auburn in a fantastic exhibition that didn’t get nearly the publicity it deserved. Saturday night, Auburn legend Kasey Cooper made her final plate appearance at Jane B. Moore Field, and it went just like fans of Coop expected: another long ball.

Team USA steamrolled the Alabama Stars, but the score isn’t nearly the important part of the story.

Four Auburn Tigers took the field on a team of collegiate players from across the Heart of Dixie. Among those were KK CrockerVictoria DraperAshlee Swindle and Kendall Veach

“I’ve always wanted to play for Team USA, but to play against them was even better,” stated Crocker. “It was fun playing against Kasey; we had our little chat at second base, so that was fun.”

All four of Auburn’s players made contributions in the field and, most importantly, all three hitters managed to record hits. Veach led the way by going 2-for-2, including a double. After being an afterthought, she was a surprise for softball fans as she was called upon to replace Tannon Snow at first base at the beginning of the season. Though she had some mistakes at first base, she was terrific at the plate. And, the surprise of the year may have come Saturday night as Veach found her way behind the plate. 

As many know, standout catcher Carlee “Clutch” Wallace made a surprising move to transfer to Baylor after the season. Behind her would be Courtney Shea, who was a part-time starter at catcher and full-time designated hitter. 

Is Veach’s start at catcher a sign of things to come? Certainly current head coach Clint Myers could have the ears of Alabama All-Stars’ coaches and former Auburn standouts,  Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson and Holly Currie. Could this have been planned? What would that mean?

Myers has been adamant that both Tannon and freshman sibling Taylon Snow (the number-one recruit in the country) would be on campus for the 2018 season. Tannon’s returning to first would free up Veach. With the number of games played, it makes sense to have a second catcher, especially considering that either she or Shea are good enough hitters to make the lineup every game. 

Until next time …

24 Comments

  1. neonbets says:

    The question is, were Freeze and Malzhan just not as close as they let on, was Malzahn covering for his close friend, or was Gus duped?

    Most people are thinking that either Freeze and Malzahn weren’t that close or that Gus was duped. From this point, they may lean one way or another comfortable in the knowledge that it-just-does-not-matter.

    But wait–there’s another possibility! Gus “might have been covering for his close friend”. Uh Oh.

    Do you really think that it’s a reasonable to suggest (or question) that when Malzahn said that “Freeze was a good friend” that Malzahn may have done this to…provide cover so Freeze could reap more benefit from his corruption?
    Who knows–maybe you’re on to something here, Zach. How do we even know that Freeze was actually calling an escort in that infamous phone call? What if–and I’m just spitballin’ here–Freeze was calling Vladimir Putin? Could Gus have known about this Freeze-Putin connection all along?
    This is bigger than football, Zach. I hope that you pursue this story to its logical conclusion no matter where it ends. #NotMyFootballCoach

    • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

      That’s a lot of sarcasm and scorn for just outlying the possible scenarios.

      You could have simply asked me my thoughts on it.

      My thoughts? People throw around “close friend” a lot in the modern age, especially when it fits their agenda.

      In this case, Malzahn and Freeze have been diametrically opposed to one Nick Saban, especially in regards to rule changes because their offenses are two of the very few to succeed. “Enemy of my enemy.”

      This camaraderie, in combination to their mutual background, made them brothers in arms. It did not make them “friends.” But “friend ” is easy to say. I find myself doing the same thing.

      I find it impossible for Freeze to have duped everyone including his AD and “close friends.”

      I think Malzahn duped himself into thinking they were close friends.

      • AubieCE AubieCE says:

        Both were HS coaches, ran a fast paced offense, coached at Arky St and coached
        in the SEC W.
        They had a lot in common.
        So I can see that they would be cordial and could be friends.
        The definition of “close” depends on who you ask.
        CHF fooled his wife, most of the Ole Miss faithful and perhaps the Ole Miss administration.
        CHF is a good actor , no doubt from my view.
        And how often was CGM actually around CHF in person?
        Not much I would wage.

      • AtkinsonTiger AtkinsonTiger says:

        Freeze is not the first man to lead a double life or fool his wife, his co workers, and yes … even his friends. Why is that so "impossible" to believe?

        • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

          I think my answer would be that, yes, an average man can hide a double life. Happens every day, in every office of America. I think it’s easier for the common man to do it than someone like Freeze. I mean, with the way men like him are tracked and how much money is on the line, it would seem impossible to hide it forever.

          Maybe I am wrong. I am hardly the expert on it, haha.

          • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

            …..My guess would be that an escort service would be the way to go, for discretion. Of course, even the former Alabama Governor knew that you conduct that sort of thing on “burner” phones.

            …..In a more typical affair, one partner or the other often gets impatient/disillusioned, and starts spilling the beans, at least as I’ve seen among acquaintances.

      • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

        Zach I haven't been one to question your propensity to look for the negative but this time it can't be overlooked. To insinuate that Malzahn may be complicit in a friend's misdoings, corruption or whatever is just too much especially from an Auburn fan/writer.

        • Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

          Simply listing the possible options is NOT insinuating. I very clearly stated my opinion in a comment above because the article, itself, isn't the proper place for it.

          • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

            Zach, I do appreciate the work that goes into a post and I have read some good ones from you but your article is exactly the "proper place" for the "comment above." Unless it's news, blog articles ARE opinions and if you did "NOT" mean to insinuate then you should have made your opinion clear in the article.

            You writers state your opinions and us readers agree or disagree and judging from the comments on this one, it appears most disagreed with the opinion expressed in the article.

  2. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    I could be proven wrong – and I sincerely hope not – but I don’t see any way that CGM would stand up for CHF if he had prior knowledge of this latest development.
    Gus stood up for Freeze as it related to the NCAA investigation; no way Gus condones the activities that were most recently revealed.

    • warhog 1 warhog 1 says:

      I totally agree. I, too, would have a real problem believing that Gus would support CHF with knowledge of this latest discovery/disclosure. Gus has proven time and again that he is consistent with the possible exception of an occasional boo boo calling a game. LOL

  3. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    CGM has only one concern; winning this fall and saving his job.
    2015 + 2016’s record will NOT cut it in 2017!

  4. uglyjoe says:

    In no way do i condone what Coach Freeze did or does…..however, I have stood by friends when they have done stupid things, and friends have likewise stood by me. Nobody can see into the heart of another person…..bashing a rival university can be sporting; bashing someone else’s life, not so much.

    • uglyjoe says:

      And that comment was not aimed at anyone in particular; it’s just been on my mind.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Well said. Isn’t there a quote out there something to the effect of, church is for the sinners?

      …..The issue now, with hiring Freeze as an on-the-field coach is integrity. Freeze has lost his, and must try to earn it back. I doubt that any coach would risk having Freeze recruit. Someone at another school would say, “he’s cheating again!” And Freeze would have no credibility in denying it.

      • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

        Agree on both points Acid. As regards Freeze coaching again, I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn up in a year or two on Saban's staff a'la Steven Sarkisiam and Lane Kiffin.

        • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

          And I wouldn't be surprised to see Kiffin at Ole Miss next year. If Oxford would take a chance on Houston Nutt, you know they would be more than glad to get the ex Tenn., USC., Bama coach.

          • Jason Wright says:

            I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dump Fla. Atlantic U. right now for Ole Miss if it were offered like he did Tenn. for USC.

    • Jason Wright says:

      Well put Joe!

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……And as unfortunate as it is, we can’t really count on Gus to give us the truth in press conferences, either. I point to various BS injury reports, where the quarterback suddenly can’t go on gameday, when they knew all week in practice.

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      I will speculate that coaches wouldn't do press conferences at all if given the choice. So they "have" to say something. Of course they know the injury status of any given player. But I also don't necessarily blame them for not stating such in public even though the opposite of saying it, as you state Acid, is BS.

  6. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    I take CGM’s pressers and tiger talk with less than a grain of salt.

  7. uglyjoe says:

    I think Matt Luke will get a couple of years to coach as long as he can squeak out four or five wins a year. Ole Miss is not going to do anything for a couple of years while sanctions are going on and I think they will cut their losses and stick with him. I do not see Lane kiffin coaching there.