Opelika-Auburn News editor Justin Lee believes that the timing of the Auburn football program’s release of the contract details from new head coach Hugh Freeze’s pact was intentional — done so that all eyes were on the baseball team’s NCAA Regional against Penn instead.
Of note, up to $2 million in performance bonuses awaits Freeze should he guide Auburn football to a College Football Playoff National Championship over the life of his contract. At six years and $6.5 million per season on average, the Tigers are paying the proven SEC commodity more than a million more per year than they paid the very much still unproven SEC commodity Bryan Harsin — who conned AU out of over $5.25 million annually in a contract he is receiving $15.3 million of for not being the coach. Auburn covered Freeze’s $3 million buyout from Liberty as well.
All in all, Freeze is no bargain, but he does represent a better justification for spending over $5 million for a head football coach than what the program was previously spending its money on.
Hugh Freeze can justify his Auburn football coaching contract with one College Football Playoff appearance
Since the dawn of the College Football Playoff postseason structure, Auburn has become relevant by the regular season’s end just once; that was during the 2017 season when the Tigers lost by three touchdowns to Georgia in the SEC Championship. Every other season, AU has had to watch Alabama or LSU carry the torch in the title game for the SEC West.
Divisions are ending in 2024, and at the same time, the CFP will be expanding. In an increasingly competitive conference, AU just needs one CFP appearance to justify the money that’s being given to Freeze.
If things are resembling the late Gus Malzahn years by the fourth year, the seat will likely get pretty hot on the Plains. Of course, a Harsin-like performance will have the program ready to pull the plug immediately given how things went in 2022.