Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has great respect for LSU interim head coach Ed Orgeron

In 2005, then Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron hired Briarcrest Christian School's Hugh Freeze as the assistant A.D. for football external affairs.

Within a year Freeze had a role as an assistant coach and as the Rebels recruiting coordinator. When Orgeron was fired from Ole Miss in 2007 Freeze moved on to Lambuth University and began his head coaching journey which eventually saw him return to Oxford for the job Orgeron once held. Without Orgeron giving Freeze an opportunity to move up from the high school ranks to college, who knows where Freeze would be. Freeze acknowledged that in his weekly press conference heading into Saturday's matchup against Orgeron's LSU Tigers.

"I have great respect for him and everything he has meant to my career," Freeze said. "I learned a lot from him and I'm very indebted to the time I had him and for the opportunity that he gave me.

I really don't know that my career does what it does without the opportunity that he gave me."

Orgeron is most famously remembered in his time in Oxford for being a rah-rah coach. He was often criticized for his intensity and aggressive attitude. Freeze, however, appreciated Orgeron's passion.

"I don't know if I've ever been around a coach that's more passionate and came to work every single day with that same energy," Freeze said. 

"That same passion. That same drive. It wasn't a roller coaster in that regard. He was as driven as much as any I've ever seen."

That drive helped Orgeron recruit top 15 classes to Ole Miss but it wasn't enough to win more than four games in his three-year career at Ole Miss. Freeze believes Orgeron was close to a winning season.

"I think it was close to turning a corner," Freeze said. "If you look at the at the athletes Ed and our staff brought in, we thought we were really close.

We didn't win enough games that last year to satisfy everyone and a change was made."

Since leaving Ole Miss, Orgeron has held multiple assistant coaching positions. He was also an interim head coach once prior to his current gig with the Tigers. In 2013 Orgeron was promoted from defensive line coach to interim head coach after USC fired then head coach Lane Kiffin. Under Orgeron, the Trojans finished the regular season with a 9-4 record and received a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. Despite support from his players Orgeron was passed over for the head coaching job and he resigned.

Orgeron took over as LSU's defensive line coach in 2015 and found himself in a familiar situation this year when LSU head coach Les Miles was fired. Orgeron was promoted to interim head coach and is currently 2-0 in his new position. Freeze believes Orgeron's failures have allowed him to find ways to succeed.

"Talking to Ed and listening to his interviews he's learned some too," Freeze said. "He's continued to do that and continued to improve himself to put himself in this situation again."

"They're playing with great passion."

"I know what I hear and read. He's shortened practices and their kids look like they're having a lot of fun. Whatever he's doing is working. They've played two games and looked really good in them."

Freeze and his Rebels will travel to Baton Rouge to face his old boss' LSU Tigers on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.


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