Liberty University, the second largest Christian college in the world, just hired the former disgraced University of Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze to run its football program. Freeze coached at Ole Miss from 2011-2017. During his tenure he posted a 39-25 record, beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and got his team to a few prominent bowl games. The NCAA investigated Freeze and the program for recruiting violations, but from what I can tell the violations were not the primary reason Freeze left the program in July 2017.
Freeze left Ole Miss after the administration learned that he had made a dozen calls to escort services during recruiting trips and he did so from his university phone. He resigned in disgrace.
Since his resignation, Freeze, a born-again Christian who attends Pine Lake Church, an evangelical megachurch in Oxford, Mississippi, has been trying to rehabilitate his reputation.
In January 2018, Freeze began what some have described as his “redemption tour” on the campus of Liberty. You can watch his speech (and his wife’s speech) to the students here:
Freeze must have made an impression on Jerry Falwell Jr. that day.
It seems that Falwell Jr. has become the university president of forgiveness and second chances. In November 2016 he hired Ian McGaw as the university’s athletic director. Some of you may recall that McGaw lost his athletic director job at Baylor University when he failed to report a a gang rape by Baylor football players.
And let’s not forget that Jerry Falwell Jr is one of the strongest evangelical supporters of Donald Trump, a man who, unlike Freeze, will not ask for forgiveness for his moral indiscretion and infidelity.
Here is a taste of Jason Kirk’s piece at SBNation:
It remains to be seen how Freeze can recruit at Liberty with multiple, interweaving scandals in his background. Lots of coaches have a scandal or even two, but how many have scandals that directly contrast with the entire public image those coaches presented of themselves?
Then again, it’s Liberty, where the school president once said the ex-Baylor AD “fits perfectly.” I don’t think the image that the rest of us see from the outside matters at all, compared to the image the school chooses to see of itself.
Read the entire piece here.