COACHING SEARCH: Hugh Freeze

In the first of many installments, the TigerAuthority.com staff takes a look at the list of the next potential Memphis football coaches. First up: Arkansas State head man Hugh Freeze.

One name instantly comes to mind when you think about the recent University of Memphis coaching opening.

Before this season, the longtime Memphis high school coach Hugh Freeze was known for the part he played in Michael Oher's life, portrayed best in the feature film "The Blind Side." Now, however, he is lauded for injecting life back into a struggling Arkansas State program.

Hiring Freeze to be Memphis' next coach would be a media dream come true. You can almost read the headlines now.

"Freeze returns home to Memphis to save Tigers' football program.

There's not much doubt about what Freeze has meant to Arkansas State's program in the last couple years.

"He has a magic about him," Arkansas State Scout publisher James Bryant said. "He brings a confidence and swagger about him that his teams take on themselves. He teaches his players to believe in themselves, to believe in each other and to expect more out of themselves and their teammates."

Freeze brought an instant excitement to Jonesboro, Ark.

In his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves he has his team at 9-2 and currently undefeated in Sun Belt action. ASU has a chance to go 10-2, the best record Arkansas State has had since joining the FBS.

The Red Wolves are currently on a eight game winning streak and more importantly leads the Sun Belt Conference in both offense and defense.

ASU is currently ranked 26th in the nation in total offense and 18th in the nation in total defense.

"There is an excitement and energy surrounding this football program that hasn't been seen at Arkansas State since the 1980's," Bryant said. "Freeze has his team believing, he has the Jonesboro community believing and they are going bowling for the first time since 2005."

Freeze's team was the first FBS team to receive a bowl bid this fall. The Red Wolves have already received a Go Daddy.Com Bowl invite following his team's ninth win of the year over Middle Tennessee State.

Arkansas State's first victory out of their nine wins came against Memphis 47-3 in a game that could have been much worse than it actually was.

Freeze also rebuilt a Lambuth program, taking a 1-9 team to 8-3 his first season and 12-1 his second year at the NAIA program.

He served three years as an assistant coach at the SEC level at Ole Miss, where he was in charge of recruiting the Memphis area. He garnered several top prospects from the Bluff City to help in the Rebels priority of making Memphis a priority in their recruiting needs.

Why Freeze would be a good hire: He would bring a needed excitement and energy to the football program. His coaching contacts and relationships in the Memphis and surrounding areas will be vital in rebuilding.

Why Freeze might not happen: The hard part about hiring Freeze at Memphis is going to be convincing the young fiery coach to return home to Memphis instead of returning home to Ole Miss or other possible job opportunities.


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