By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – A crowd of more than 1,200 on a rainy day pressed inside the Ford Center at Ole Miss on Monday to welcome Hugh Freeze as the Rebels’ new head football coach.
Search committee co-chair Mike Glenn and chancellor Dan Jones spoke with high praise for Freeze, who led Arkansas State to the Sun Belt Conference championship this season, his only experience as an NCAA head coach.
Freeze, 42, was joined by his wife and three daughters on stage. A native of Senatobia, he had numerous family members in attendance. He is the school’s third head coach since David Cutcliffe was fired following the 2004 season and will earn $1.5 million a year over a four-year contract.
Committee co-chair Archie Manning was not present but answered questions with Glenn on a media conference call afterward.
Glenn said he and Manning were confident in Freeze as the search played out.
“We set out the coaches, then we evaluated the coaches individually and compared notes. We both came away with the No. 1 target and that was Hugh Freeze,” Glenn said.
Freeze replaces Houston Nutt, who was 24-26 in four seasons at Ole Miss.
The decision to hire Freeze was made Sunday night after Freeze met with Jones, Glenn said. He would not say how many other candidates were considered or who they were.
Freeze was a member of former coach Ed Orgeron’s Ole Miss staff in 2005-07. He worked in an administrative capacity the first season and was on the field for the final two.
Jones said the right coach had to have “integrity, character, the desire to be at Ole Miss and the belief that we can win championships at Ole Miss.”
Said Jones: “We’re confident Hugh Freeze is the right man to lead our football program forward.”