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Auburn hires Freeze as new head coach

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Hugh Freeze is leaving Liberty to become the new head coach at Auburn, the Tigers announced Monday.

"Of all the candidates we considered, Hugh was the best fit," Auburn athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. "Fit has several meanings, but the most important factors were student-athlete development, football strategy, recruiting, and SEC experience."

Freeze said, "Auburn is one of the preeminent programs in college football and I'm very appreciative of president Chris Roberts and John Cohen for this opportunity at Auburn."

The 53-year-old has compiled a 34-15 record with the Flames over four seasons. Freeze led the program to three consecutive bowl wins from 2019-21.

The Oxford, Mississippi, native agreed to an eight-year extension with Liberty in October that made him one of the highest-paid Group of 5 coaches in the country.

Freeze returns to the SEC, where he was head coach of Ole Miss from 2012 through the 2016 season. He resigned prior to the 2017 season after school officials learned that he'd made multiple calls to numbers associated with a female escort service. The NCAA was also investigating the program for multiple recruiting and academic violations. The Rebels were placed on probation in 2017 and received a two-year bowl ban, among other sanctions.

The NCAA cited Freeze for failure to monitor his assistant coaches and Ole Miss boosters. However, he avoided a show-cause penalty.

Freeze agreed to give up control of his social media accounts when he takes the Auburn job, sources told Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde.

The Tigers appeared to have narrowed their coaching search down to Freeze and current Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. The Rebels agreed to terms on a contract extension with Kiffin this past weekend after he declared his intention to remain at the school.

Auburn fired Bryan Harsin in October after he went 9-12 as the Tigers' sideline boss. Assistant coach Cadillac Williams was named the interim coach. Williams will join Freeze's new coaching staff as associated head coach, he announced Tuesday.

Freeze will be Auburn's third head coach in the past four years.

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