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Hugh Freeze Q&A: Auburn has 'really good set up' in new world of college football

Cole Pinkstonby:Cole Pinkston05/12/24


During the Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Hoover, Ala., Auburn Head Coach Hugh Freeze spoke on the Rick and Bubba Show, a local radio show that covers the event annually. For those who are not familiar with Rick and Bubba, it is a comedy show, so the questions aren’t your typical coach questions. Freeze is familiar with the hosts and was in a relaxed setting during the interview. It presented some interesting topics for Freeze to discuss. Here was everything he said on the show.

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On year two and the college football landscape

Q: Are you fired up? How are you feeling going into year two?

FREEZE: “I feel good. There’s so much to do always in this new world of college football, you don’t ever feel like everything is complete where you can just put the hay in the barn and say, I’m going to take three days.

Q: It’s a disaster waiting to happen all the time isn’t it?

FREEZE: “Oh there will be another text or two, I’m sure, when I get done that I will probably need to respond to.”

Q: You’re in an ever-evolving world now.. You’ve had some idea of the changes, but was it more than you thought?

FREEZE: “Yeah, I had no clue, truthfully. Coming from Liberty and being outside of the league–and even having an idea of what it would be like, it has even changed in a year’s time. Now it is unlimited transfers–There will be somebody who plays a season this year, and come January, transfers to a team that’s in the playoffs and play.. Just think about that.”

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The big picture of NIL

Q: How important is the NIL money? Is that the walking boss of people now?

FREEZE: “80 percent, 80 percent of the young men, it is going to play a significant, significant role. I don’t think that is the right reason to choose a place and I say that to all of them. I’m very candid with them and tell them it’s the worst reason to choose a place. The value that you create for yourself as a man is first because you’re in the right environment and you are developed. Whatever you might get to go to a place, if that is the only reason you choose it, that could go away, now. If you’re not in the right place, they’re not going to keep doing that if you’re not performing.”

Q: We don’t want cross the line because the rules are extremely complicated.. but how do you assign a value to a young man?

FREEZE: “Well, we hire a personnel department. I think I’ve got a really good guy in Will Redmond. Just because we assign them tier one, tier one to us may mean X amount, tier one to someone else may mean twice that.”

Q: The collective operates independently to some degree right?

FREEZE: “Yep, they do, and you know Jason Campbell does a great job being a liaison between our personnel and the collective. He has a good head on his shoulders and does a really nice job of explaining real life because he has lived it from every side of it. We feel like we have a really good set up. Now, we are not into being the highest bidder. That may cost me in the long run, I don’t know, but that is just uncomfortable. I want to be fair and I think everything should be incentive based–which they say, I’m not sure you can do that yet–but that’s the way it should be. And a tier one guy, you should get this base and a tier two get this base, however, the incentives are the same. If you play 51 percent of the snaps in a game, I don’t care what tier you are.”

Q: We’re just wondering what all of this breeds in the chemistry of your team?.. I remember in the Division II years, if you were somebody who had a full ride, you were told to keep it to yourself because if that gets in the locker room, it will be problematic. How in the world does that work?

FREEZE: “They’re signing the non-disclosure and all of that, but look, it’s being talked about. It is very difficult to manage the culture in the locker room.”

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On the offense

Q: Coach, offense-wise, I want to throw this at you.. It does not appear at Auburn that you have been as wide open as you have been at your other stops. Is that personnel? A conscious decision? Or, just where we’re at with what we’ve got right now?

FREEZE: “You know, last year, I took a step back from it initially, but I think personnel-wise, we tried to play to what we had. What people remember about us, and the reason we appeared to be ‘wide open’ (at other schools) is because we weren’t afraid to throw on a running down to a Laquon Treadwell, AJ Brown, Evan Ingram, or Donte Moncrief and some of those guys. And then at Liberty, I had two NFL receivers, too. So, that changes your mindset a little bit. Last year we felt the strength was in our tight ends and running back. We tried to play to it.”

Q: Well, it looks like you beefed your receiving corps up in the offseason.. There were a lot of drops and I know you weren’t happy about that.

FREEZE: “Well, it wasn’t just that–and I have to be careful because I don’t want to–but maybe everybody was recruited to a different system. I think for ours you have to have some length and 50/50 catch radius type guys. That’s what we tried to get.”

Q: And, we think people misunderstand this.. Of course, NIL has changed some of that.. but, there may be a player who is phenomenal, but he’s not the player this program is looking for. He didn’t fit what we do. It didn’t mean he’s not a great football player, it just means he’s got to find the team where he fits.

FREEZE: “Yeah, you don’t see us running a bunch of, ‘Let me get a small, fast guy and let’s run a bunch of speed sweeps with them.’ That’s not really who I have been. I’ve been the guy that, man, I need a guy with some 50/50 catch radius. Then, if they have an extra guy in the box, we are going to depend on him to catch it.”

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