Who will forget Sandra Bullock’s constant complaints while training Burt Cotton in the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side? The story of Michael Oher and his journey to the NFL is moving, and now it might be time to start a sequel. Coach Cotton in the movie is actually Coach Hugh Freeze, a Mississippi native who today landed his dream job by being named the new head football coach at the University of Mississippi.
Freeze, a 1992 graduate of southern Mississippi, landed his first coaching job at Briarcrest Christian School (the real name of the movie Wingate Christian School) that same year. He was the team’s offensive coordinator and defensive backs coach before being named head coach in 1995. Freeze won two state titles (2002 and 2004) at Briarcrest and was named Region 8-AA Coach of the Year five times and Coach of Associated Press of the year six times.
Freeze then followed his prominent offensive lineman, Oher, to the Mississippi, where, in 2005, he became assistant athletic director for soccer external affairs. Next season he would become a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, positions he held until 2007, when then-head coach Ed Orgeron was fired. In 2008, Freeze found himself training at NAIA Lambuth University (TN), where he was 20-5 in two seasons, including a perfect 11-0 regular season in 2009. The school went to its first playoff game in 11 years. and finished the year at 12-1 and ranked sixth in the entire NAIA.
In 2010, Freeze joined the Arkansas State coaching staff as offensive coordinator and after Steve Roberts resigned at the end of the season, Freeze was named the new head coach. The Red Wolves have thrived under Freeze’s powerful offense, but surprisingly, they have also been very good on defense, ranking 15th in the country in defensive scoring, with 19.3 points per game.
Freeze inherits a team that did not win an SEC game this year, going 0-8 in conference and 2-10 overall, one of the victories against FCS (formerly Div. I-AA) Southern Illinois. With a defense ranked near the bottom of FBS in various categories and an offense that isn’t much better, the task ahead will be powerful, but Freeze has won everywhere he’s been. He’s busy assembling his staff, and his wide receiver coach Grant Heard and defensive line coach Chris Kiffin will reportedly follow him from Arkansas State to his new home at Ole Miss.