Hugh Freeze, Briarcrest, and Ole Miss

Until about 2 weeks ago, Hugh Freeze’s coaching career was a real-life Facing The Giants story: he had no college football experience, but would go on to lead Briarcrest Academy (Memphis, TN) to two state football championships and four state girls basketball championships.

From there, he would go on to take an Ole Miss football program that was notoriously low-performing and take them to four bowl appearances, including two victories against Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

He was known as a devout Christian who held students and players to high standards of conduct, not unlike Bill McCartney who once coached University of Colorado and founded Promise Keepers.

But now, Freeze is gone. Part of that downfall began with some recruiting violations–that’s bad, but not the end of the world–but the final straw was “personal conduct”, including at least one phone call, on his university-issued cell phone, to an escort service.

Now, the accusations are bubbling, going all the way back to his days at Briarcrest. (HT: Amy Smith of Watch Keep via FB.)

While it does not appear that the accusations involve him having sex with students, they do call into question both his judgment and a potentially-twisted sexuality.

Back in the day, when I was in middle/high school (8th-9th grade) in Memphis, paddling was not uncommon.

I was paddled 5 times. Twice by one of the principals and three of those times by one of the football coaches. One of which involved the coach goofing off (I made him laugh when I responded with, “Thank you sir may I have another!”, so he ended the punishment right then.)

But typically, whenever a teacher gave a paddling, he (or she) had at least one other teacher as a witness. And if the recipient of the paddling was female, the teacher doing the paddling was typically female.

From what I am reading about Freeze, if the accusations are true then there is some definite red flag creepiness.

I mean seriously…having a girl change her shirt in your office???

(Having her in his office without at least one other staffer present would be very bad judgment. But having her change her shirt in his office is a very serious issue.)

Personally, I hope, for Freeze’s sake, that those were just instances of bad judgment and that he learned his lessons.

But the cynic in me says he has a serious problem and he needs to take this opportunity to face those demons before it really blows up in his face.

Getting fired from a coaching job for “personal conduct” is not the end of the world, as the case of University of Louisille football coach Bobby Petrino shows.

But if Freeze does not face his demons, he’s a time bomb waiting to explode.

2 thoughts on “Hugh Freeze, Briarcrest, and Ole Miss

  1. Interesting. Paddling was illegal in the central Virginia school system I attended, and I graduated from high school 40 years ago. If the allegations against Hugh Freeze are true concerning the paddling and the shirt-changing incidents, I agree that he needs to get some serious help and soon. I sincerely hope and pray he’s able to face his issues with ruthless honesty and learn from them. I’m not excusing the other allegations made against Hugh Freeze, but the stuff at Briarcrest seems the most serious from what we currently know. And it’s possible we may simply be scratching the surface at this point.

    I recently attended a seminar given by a former pastor who’s also a recovering addict. If Hugh Freeze is willing to put the same time and effort into his recovery as this former pastor did, he may one day come out a much better man and a much stronger Christian. For now, he would do well to stay out of the limelight.

    • Yep. Freeze needs to stay in the background for a while.

      Tennessee was its own world. I lived in Nashville for 7th grade and the first half of 8th grade, and in Memphis for the second half of 8th grade and all of 9th grade.

      For the first half of 7th grade, I was in a hardcore fundamentalist school that was dominated by Bob Jones grads. They were very strict and worked us like dogs, but–surprisingly–were pretty cool, at least to me anyway. I never heard of paddlings, although I heard horror stories about suspensions and expulsions.

      But in the public schools, paddlings were common, although–as I said–there were specific rules about how they could be administered.

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