Auburn Saga Continues—Hugh Freeze Hiring Looks Unlikely
USA TODAY Sports
The latest in Auburn’s search for a new offensive coordinator has revealed just how much Gus Malzahn may have been handicapped by a new deal worked out last week to retain his position as head coach. He reportedly accepted an offer from President Steven Leath (with some board support) that included limitations on his authority to run the program.
Yesterday, we saw the beginning of what some of those limitations may include. It seems Gus wants to hire former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze to replace the departed Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator. He’s a proven commodity that could re-energize the Tiger offense. To get Freeze, he would need to offer a two-year contract. However, the school will only allow Malzahn to offer a single-year deal.
When Auburn has a chance to hire one of the most sought after and available coaches in the country, Gus has his hands tied. Freeze is being heavily courted by several schools, including Florida State, Tennessee, Liberty and, maybe, Alabama. Someone will get his services next year, but at this point it doesn’t look like it will be Auburn. Unfortunately the situation gives appearance of trying to make it difficult for Malzahn to succeed.
If president Leath is not willing to give Malzahn what he needs to be successful, he should not have agreed to retain him. Now that he has been retained, it’s only logical that he give Gus that support. But, nothing in this whole situation has been logical.
It’s more than mystifying why this saga continues. Why can’t Leath see how making moves that will hinder a coach from being successful hurts not only Gus but also the players, the assistant coaches, and ultimately the alumni and fans? The fallout could not only negatively affect recruiting but cause future quality coaches to think twice before considering taking a job at Auburn.
By his actions since last December, Dr Leath has proven that he was ill prepared to manage a situation involving a football program in the SEC. Nevertheless, he doesn’t need to allow the saga to continue when he has someone on staff who is supposed to be charged with stewardship of all of the athletic programs on the Plains: Athletic Director Allen Greene.
Surely with his many years in the profession Greene understands what is needed as well as the serious implications of continuing down this path. If only Dr. Leath would give him a chance to run the athletic program.