Freeze sa­vors sec­ond chance with Flames

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

LYNCH­BURG — Hugh Freeze has en­joyed the highs of foot­ball, such as win­ning the Su­gar Bowl and beat­ing mighty Alabama. He’s also known em­bar­rass­ment and shame fol­low­ing a per­sonal scan­dal that cost him his job at Mis­sis­sippi.

The 49-year-old Freeze be­lieves those ex­pe­ri­ences will serve him well as the head coach at Lib­erty, where he’s been given a sec­ond chance.

“I be­lieve in teach­ing young men on our team all of the lessons of when I got it right and when I got it wrong and what the con­se­quences are,” Freeze said.

He was in­tro­duced as Lib­erty’s foot­ball coach on cam­pus Fri­day, call­ing the op­por­tu­nity an “un­be­liev­able day for me and my fam­ily.” He was emo­tional at times dur­ing a press con­fer­ence, thank­ing his fam­ily and call­ing them his he­roes.

“I’ve made de­ci­sions that have hurt a lot of peo­ple,” Freeze said. “I don’t ever want to ex­pe­ri­ence that again.”

Freeze will re­place Turner Gill, who re­signed af­ter his sev­enth sea­son to spend more time with his ail­ing wife. The Flames fin­ished 6-6 this sea­son, their first com­pet­ing at the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion level, and were 47-35 un­der Gill.

Lib­erty will have full sta­tus for FBS bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity in 2019. The Flames are not part of a con­fer­ence and are play­ing as an in­de­pen­dent.

Freeze spent five years at Mis­sis­sippi and led the Rebels to a 39-25 record and four bowl games. He re­signed in the sum­mer of 2017 amid a scan­dal in which school of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered a “pat­tern of per­sonal mis­con­duct” start­ing with a call to an es­cort ser­vice from a univer­sity-is­sued cell­phone.

Ole Miss was also mired in an NCAA rules in­ves­ti­ga­tion dur­ing much of his ten­ure that even­tu­ally re­sulted in a two-year post­sea­son ban.

Now Freeze gets a chance to re­build his ca­reer less than 18 months af­ter his stun­ning down­fall in Ox­ford, where his abrupt res­ig­na­tion marked the end to a volatile ten­ure.

Ole Miss en­joyed a quick rise un­der Freeze, who came to the school be­fore the 2012 sea­son and im­me­di­ately started re­cruit­ing at a high level. The Rebels quickly de­vel­oped into a South­east­ern Con­fer­ence con­tender, beat­ing Alabama two sea­sons in a row and reach­ing an apex when they won the Su­gar Bowl over Ok­la­homa State fol­low­ing the 2015 sea­son.

But an NCAA in­ves­ti­ga­tion that found 21 vi­o­la­tions of aca­demic, booster, and re­cruit­ing mis­con­duct over­shad­owed much of that suc­cess. Most of the 21 charges hap­pened dur­ing Freeze’s ten­ure.

The Rebels were even­tu­ally hit with a two-year post­sea­son ban, pro­ba­tion and re­cruit­ing re­stric­tions. who was 15-10 in two sea­sons at Tem­ple.

Be­fore his time at Florida (2015-16) and Mis­sis­sippi State (2011-14), Collins was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant and tight ends coach at Ge­or­gia Tech un­der coach Ge­orge O’Leary from 1999-2001. He re­turned to serve as re­cruit­ing co­or­di­na­tor at Ge­or­gia Tech un­der coach Chan Gai­ley in 2006.

Collins also spent a sea­son as di­rec­tor of player per­son­nel at Alabama in 2007, Nick Sa­ban’s first sea­son lead­ing the Crim­son Tide.

Clem­son junior Clelin Fer­rell, a for­mer stand­out at Bene­dic­tine, was an­nounced as the re­cip­i­ent of the Ted Hen­dricks Award on Thurs­day. The award rec­og­nizes the top de­fen­sive end in the na­tion.

Fer­rell was picked from a group of four fi­nal­ists that also in­cluded Ken­tucky’s Josh Allen, Louisiana Tech’s Jay­lon Fer­gu­son and North­ern Illi­nois’ Sut­ton Smith.

Fer­rell has 10.5 sacks this sea­son, and 45 to­tal tack­les. The 6-4, 265-pounder was also named the ACC’s de­fen­sive player of the year.

Vir­ginia cor­ner­back Bryce Hall was named to the Walter Camp Al­lAmer­ica team, which was an­nounced dur­ing the ESPN/Home De­pot Col­lege Foot­ball Award Show on Thurs­day. Hall was a sec­ond-team All-Amer­ica se­lec­tion.

The Walter Camp Al­lAmer­ica team, the na­tion’s old­est col­lege foot­ball All-Amer­ica squad, is in its 129th year. Hall is the 13th Cava­lier all-time to be rec­og­nized on the Walter Camp All-Amer­ica team and gives U.Va. a Walter Camp All-Amer­i­can in back-to-back sea­sons.

Hall is the first U.Va. cor­ner­back to be rec­og­nized by the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Hall leads the na­tion with 20 pass breakups and is No. 2 in the na­tion with 22 passes de­fended. He boasts 59 tack­les, 3.5 tack­les for loss, 2 sacks, two in­ter­cep­tions, forced two fum­bles and re­cov­ered an­other fum­ble.

Old Do­min­ion wide re­ceiver Jonathan Duhart ,a for­mer Manch­ester stand­out, will play in the EastWest Shrine game on Jan. 19. The game will be held at Trop­i­cana Field in St. Peters­burg, Fla.

Duhart racked up 1,045 yards on 74 catches this sea­son for the Mon­archs (4-8). The re­cep­tion to­tal led Con­fer­ence USA, and the yardage to­tal was third. He was a sec­ondteam all-con­fer­ence pick.

Duhart’s five 100-yard re­ceiv­ing games this sea­son were also tied for sec­ond in C-USA. He and Travis Ful­gham (1,083 yards) were the first duo in school his­tory to have 1,000 re­ceiv­ing yards in the same sea­son.

GREENVILLE, N.C. — New East Carolina coach

Mike Hous­ton is bring­ing eight of his coaches from James Madi­son to the Pi­rates’ staff.

Hous­ton on Fri­day an­nounced 10 mem­bers of his coach­ing staff.

Five of­fen­sive coaches and three de­fen­sive coaches are com­ing from James Madi­son. Among them are of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Don­nie Kirk­patrick and of­fen­sive line coach

Steve Shankweiler, both hav­ing pre­vi­ously coached at East Carolina. Kirk­patrick was on ECU’s staff from 2005-15, and this is Shankweiler’s fourth stint as an as­sis­tant at the school.

Hous­ton also said he was re­tain­ing cor­ner­backs coach Bran­don Lynch from the pre­vi­ous staff.

East Carolina hired Hous­ton ear­lier this week af­ter he spent three sea­sons coach­ing at James Madi­son.

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas run­ning back Pooka Wil­liams was sus­pended by the Jay­hawks af­ter his ar­rest on sus­pi­cion of do­mes­tic bat­tery, the same day the star fresh­man was se­lected Big 12 new­comer of the year.

Wil­liams, whose given name is An­thony Ray Wil­liams, was in­volved in a phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion at a Lawrence apart­ment com­plex Thurs­day, univer­sity po­lice said in a state­ment. The woman re­ported mi­nor in­juries, and the in­ci­dent re­port in­di­cates that she sus­tained in­juries from bod­ily force.

Wil­liams was in­ter­viewed later Thurs­day and ar­rested at the univer­sity pub­lic safety of­fice. He was due in court later Fri­day, and his case has been for­warded to the Dou­glas County Dis­trict At­tor­ney.

“We are tak­ing these al­le­ga­tions very se­ri­ously,” new foot­ball coach Les Miles said. As­so­ciate ath­letic di­rec­tor Jim Mar­chiony said the ath­letic depart­ment had no ad­di­tional com­ment.

Wil­liams ran for 1,125 yards and seven touch­downs af­ter miss­ing the opener amid ques­tions about his el­i­gi­bil­ity, and he added 289 yards and two touch­downs through the air.

LEE LUTHER JR./ LYNCH­BURG NEWS AND AD­VANCE

New Lib­erty foot­ball coach Hugh Freeze was in­tro­duced to the me­dia in Lynch­burg on Fri­day. He was fired by Ole Miss last year fol­low­ing five tur­bu­lent sea­sons there.

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