With the SEC season less than four months away, here’s a look at how the conference’s coaches rank in 2015.
Bio: Hugh Freeze is the only active SEC coach with experience at the High School level. Freeze led Briarcrest High School (Memphis, Tennessee) to two state championships (2002, 2004) and was depicted in the book and motion picture The Blind Side — which, if you’ve been living under a rock, chronicled current NFL and former Briarcrest lineman Michael Oher.
He spent two years at Ole Miss as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator and served as interim coach during the offseason transition period between Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt, heading the now defunct Lambuth football program’s staff from 2008-09.
Freeze spent two seasons at Arkansas State as an offensive coordinator in 2010 and head coach in 2011. He accepted the head coaching position at Ole Miss in 2012.
Freeze holds a 24-15 (5-3 SEC) overall record with the Rebels. He has improved his win total in each of his three seasons in Oxford and led Ole Miss to a third place finish in the SEC West and a top-25 ranking to end the season.
|Briarcrest HS (TN) (OC/DB)
Briarcrest HS (TN)
Ole Miss (TE/RC)
Arkansas State (OC)
Reason For Ranking: Freeze is credited for a program changing signing class in 2013 that is expected to achieve great success in 2015. Ole Miss has the top underclassmen SEC linemen prospects in OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert Nkemdiche.
Freeze led the Rebels to a 7-0 record –including an upset of then-No. 1 Alabama — in 2014, the best start since the Johnny Vaught era. But Ole Miss went 2-4 in its final six games, including a 42-3 Ploss to TCU in the Peach Bowl.
His steady success ranks him among the first half of the conference’s coaches, but Freeze must continue winning to crack the top-5 and live up to his early hype.
|09/12/15||vs. Fresno State||Oxford||TBA|
|09/19/15||at Alabama *||Tuscaloosa, Ala.||TBA|
|09/26/15||vs. Vanderbilt *||Oxford||TBA|
|10/03/15||at Florida *||Gainesville, Fla.||TBA|
|10/10/15||vs. New Mexico State (HC)||Oxford||TBA|
|10/17/15||at Memphis||Memphis, Tenn.||TBA|
|10/24/15||vs. Texas A&M *||Oxford||TBA|
|10/31/15||at Auburn *||Auburn, Ala.||TBA|
|11/07/15||vs. Arkansas *||Oxford||TBA|
|11/21/15||vs. LSU *||Oxford||TBA|
|11/28/15||at Mississippi State *||Starkville, Miss.||TBA|
2015 Outlook: Ole Miss’ “Landshark Defense” is expected to have another stellar season, despite the departures of All-American cornerbacks Senquez Goldson and Cody Prewitt. The Rebels have an easy first half of scheduled games, aside from their Week 3 matchup at Alabama.
Ole Miss needs a strong finish to dethrone the likes of Alabama, Auburn and other potential SEC West contenders in 2015. Freeze’s success will also depend on talented, yet troubled quarterback Chad Kelly.
Kelly has yet to prove that he’s matured since several altercations at Clemson. He enters an offense stacked with talent, including All-SEC tight end Evan Engram and a returning Laquon Treadwell, who could be the conference’s top wide receiver if healthy.
Ole Miss has the talent to be a contender. Freeze will need to be a top-tier coach to guide the Rebels through a tough SEC West division.