Liberty has hired former Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze to lead its football program.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Flames have tabbed Freeze as their next coach. The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because neither the school nor Freeze has publicly announced the decision.
Liberty has scheduled a news conference to “name Liberty’s next head football coach” for Friday afternoon.
Freeze will replace Turner Gill, who resigned after his seventh season to spend more time with his ailing wife. The Flames finished 6-6 this season, their first competing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, and were 47-35 under Gill.
Freeze, 49, spent five years at Mississippi and led the Rebels to a 39-25 record and four bowl games. He resigned in the summer of 2017 amid a scandal in which school officials discovered he used a university-issued cellphone to call escort services.
Ole Miss was also mired in an NCAA rules investigation during much of his tenure that eventually resulted in a two-year postseason ban.
Now Freeze gets a chance to rebuild his career less than 18 months after his stunning downfall in Oxford, where his abrupt resignation marked the end to a volatile run that included plenty of on-field success, but loads of off-field drama.
Ole Miss enjoyed a quick rise under Freeze, who came to the school before the 2012 season and immediately started recruiting at a high level. The Rebels quickly developed into a Southeastern Conference contender, beating mighty Alabama two seasons in a row and reaching an apex when they won the Sugar Bowl over Oklahoma State following the 2015 season.
But an NCAA investigation that found 21 charges of academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct overshadowed much of that success. Most of the 21 charges happened during Freeze’s tenure.
The Rebels were eventually hit with a two-year postseason ban, probation and recruiting restrictions.
From a personal standpoint, Freeze received a light punishment in the case. He would have been suspended two conference games in 2018 if he had been a head coach, but he did not take a job last year. The NCAA’s ruling said that Freeze promoted an atmosphere of rules compliance, but that he failed to monitor his staff.
By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer