Have to wonder if Auburn football HC Hugh Freeze knew Nick Saban was retiring: Analyst

Alabama v Mississippi
Alabama v Mississippi / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

AL.com's Joseph Goodman may have a hunch that Hugh Freeze might have known Nick Saban was retiring as Alabama's head coach during the offseason -- explaining why Freeze was able to so swiftly fill his Auburn football coaching staff with top-tier names and dominate the recruiting trail, particularly in-state.

"This is a time of change in college football, and Freeze is making the most of the chaos." Goodman prefaced before saying, "With Saban out, Auburn now has one of the best coaching staffs in the country.

"Based on everything we’ve seen, you have to wonder if Freeze knew the end was coming for Saban’s time at Alabama. Auburn’s coach had a plan in place for when it happened. Did Freeze have inside knowledge, or did he just anticipate Saban walking away? Either way, no other team in the SEC benefits more from Saban’s exit and Freeze was ready to make his moves."

Nick Saban retiring gives Auburn football chance to claim the state

Saban's exit from the sport sent shockwaves throughout the country, but the most notable difference that will make is on in-state recruiting. Already, the Tigers have tied the Tide with four in-state blue-chip 2024 recruits, and the lead in 2025 is sizeable (4-2) for AU since Alabama has just two recruits in the entire class.

Freeze may have had the ace up his sleeve of being able to sell recruits on playing a Saban-less Alabama in the future, but more likely, he sold the vision of Auburn in a way akin to Gus Malzahn's success; and in a way polar opposite to what the man who preceded him did.

Regardless of whether Hugh knew it was coming or not, Saban's retirement is the crack in the door in the Iron Bowl rivalry that the Tigers may just bust down in short order.