Former SEC Champion Auburn football HC has high hopes for Hugh Freeze

Former SEC Champion Auburn football head coach Gus Malzahn, who won more games than Bryan Harsin did over the past two seasons following his post-2020 season dismissal, is high on the Tigers’ new hire, Hugh Freeze. Malzahn and Freeze faced off during four of Freeze’s seasons in Oxford before he was fired as Ole Miss head coach amid scandal in 2017. Malzahn also replaced Freeze as Arkansas State’s head coach following the 2011 season.

When asked by Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger in a Freeze profile whether the 53-year-old would be able to compete with Nick Saban in the Iron Bowl, Malzahn confidently replied that “he will.” Malzahn also went into detail about how Freeze will be in a position to compete with everyone on the Plains.

“I think Auburn and Hugh is a really good match,” Malzahn said. “Auburn is an unbelievable place. Hugh is really, really good. I’m excited for both parties. You can win the whole thing there. Unbelievable fan base and support. He’s coming at a great time with NIL and the new facility. Everything came together.”

Hugh Freeze bearish on current Auburn football roster

The way Freeze spoke in Sports Illustrated’s Auburn football feature should worry Tiger fans. Freeze told Dellenger that the program is behind other SEC schools — presumably the usual suspects Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and perhaps Tennessee at this point — in recruiting and talent.

“We have a ways to go to close the talent gap,” Freeze said. “I know how that comes across and is probably hurtful for some to hear in the locker room, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about them. We’re going to coach the heck out of them. They are ours. The truth of it is, from just watching workouts, we don’t have the SEC-type depth right now that some of the others are playing with for whatever reason.”

Freeze named numerous Auburn greats before concluding that no one in the locker room right now is on that level.

“I have this idea of Auburn from the Cam Newton, Nick Marshall, Sammie Coates (days), all those great running backs,” Freeze prefaced before saying, “I don’t see that. I don’t see that right now.”