Hugh Freeze viewed every portal QB as secondary to incumbent Auburn football QB1

Hugh Freeze viewed every transfer portal quarterback as secondary to his incumbent Auburn football starter.
Massachusetts v Auburn
Massachusetts v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Hugh Freeze viewed every transfer portal quarterback option as secondary to incumbent Auburn football QB1 Payton Thorne according to's Matt Cohen, who believes Freeze's decision to stick with the Michigan State transfer will be tenure-defining on the Plains.

"These are the types of decisions that define a coach’s tenure," Cohen prefaced before saying, "And the one Hugh Freeze told reporters about on Saturday is exactly the type of hill he’ll have to lie down on.

"He did not settle back on Thorne as a last resort. He instead looked at a transfer portal full of big-name quarterbacks like Notre Dame-bound Riley Leonard, N.C. State-bound Grayson McCall and the still undecided Washington State transfer Cameron Ward as if all were secondary options to the returning quarterback he already had."

Hugh Freeze sticking with Payton Thorne as Auburn football QB1

For the first time since the 2020 season, there won't be any QB controversy heading into 2024. Freeze has decided on Thorne, and to a lesser extent, for now, Holden Geriner, and won't be waiting on the portal to solve all his problems. The Oxford, Mississippi native sounded confident in that decision.

"We have one of the top returning QBs in Power Five with wins," Freeze said (h/t On3's Justin Hokanson). "I believe if we get the right pieces around him...I think our QB room will be fine next year. That is my belief. I thought he showed, once he settled in, what he could do."

Freeze conceded that even hunting for a QB could run him the risk of losing Thorne, Geriner, or both to the portal.

"If you go get one, you're probably going to lose Payton and Holden," Freeze prefaced before saying, "So you better be right."

Well, Cohen believes Freeze better be right about this massive gamble, one that has the potential to backfire -- especially if no other changes to the offensive scheme and personnel are made this offseason and the on-field product isn't much different in 2024.