As you may have noticed earlier this week, Liberty Flames coach Turner Gill retired from his role in order to be with his wife Gayle, who is sick. We hope she recovers to good health, and wish them both the best through this difficult time.
Normally we wouldn’t necessarily care about what Liberty football does because well... the school can be pretty gross, to put it mildly. But with the Flames on the Syracuse Orange’s schedule three times in the coming years, we sort of have to pay attention a little. SU will visit Liberty to kick off the 2019 season.
Without Gill at the helm anymore, the Flames needed a new football coach. They could’ve gone with the obvious, odious choice with former Baylor head man Art Briles — something that seems appalling but is actually right in line with something Liberty would do. Thankfully, they didn’t go with Briles. However, the school hired former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze instead, as announced today.
Freeze, a devout Christian, fit the profile that a Christian university like Liberty wants. However, Freeze also comes with major baggage: allegations of inappropriate conduct at the high school level, the NCAA issues around the Rebels football program, and his phone having called a female escort service. The coach seemed to unintentionally and unfortunately lean right into his “colorful” history at Friday’s press conference;
Hugh Freeze, on running a faith-based program and his belief in Jesus: “He’s the only one I’ve ever met who can handle my junk.”— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 7, 2018
Jesus may be able to handle Freeze’s junk, but we’ll see if Liberty can — or wants to — if he brings it around the athletic department there. SU will bring their own “junk” to Lynchburg, Va. to start 2019, a challenge that seems likely to test Freeze’s faith a bit. Liberty allowed nearly 37 points per game this year, while the Orange averaged more than 40. His Mississippi defenses were much better than that, but also had access to SEC-caliber players. That won’t be the case for the Flames any time soon as a recent-to-FBS independent with no conference waiting for them.
Adding to the hits at the press conference, Freeze also alluded to some previous issues as “inconveniences” to his wife. This seems like a massive undersell, but yes, potential affairs and alleged inappropriate conduct involving minors are an “inconvenience” I guess, by definition. Syracuse’s offense will be a similar “inconvenience” for them next year.
If this presser is any indication of what’s to come, should be an entertaining lead-up to the 2019 game. I’m just looking forward to when this three-game contract is over (September 25, 2021) so I no longer need to pay any attention to the Flames or Freeze at all.