New coach gets warm welcome

By Blake Long | Special to the Journal

OXFORD – People around the nation will relate to Hugh Freeze the most as the high school coach of Michael Oher on the award-winning movie “The Blind Side.”
Freeze left the school portrayed in the movie, Briarcrest Christian School, after the 2004 season to take an assistant coaching position under Ed Orgeron’s staff at Ole Miss.
Now, after coaching stops at Lambuth University and Arkansas State, the Senatobia native has returned to Oxford as the 37th head coach in program history.
However, the relationships he made as a high school head coach in Memphis continue today, as evidenced by members of the audience today at his introductory press conference.
Sean Tuohy, also portrayed in “The Blind Side” as Oher’s adoptive father, was in attendance and has remained close with Freeze since his time as a coach at Briarcrest Christian.
“I’ve known Hugh for a long time,” Tuohy said after the press conference in the Gertrude C. Ford Center. “He’s who you want your kid to play for. I can back that up by saying my kid (Oher) did play for him.”
Tuohy, who starred as a basketball player at Ole Miss and is still the SEC’s all-time assists leader, did not hesitate when asked how he thought Freeze would do at his alma mater.
“Oh, he’s the best football coach I’ve ever met,” said Tuohy. “He was the best football coach when he was coaching the ninth graders at Briarcrest and he’s the best coach when coaching in the SEC.”
Tuohy admitted Freeze’s hiring at Ole Miss was a bit more personal, though he’s been excited to see his career progress.
“I’ve been excited every place that’s hired him,” Tuohy said. “This one, obviously, is a bit more personal. You want somebody that you care for to do well, but then again you want the school to do well.
“Hopefully it’s a good match.”
Campus Reaction
Freeze took the stage to a rousing applause from the student’s in attendance at the open press conference.
That seemed to be the sentiment of the student body as a whole, as chants of “Huuuugh” rang at times during Freeze’s introductory speech.
There are some, though, that question some aspects of Freeze’s hiring. But even most of those that question agree the best decision was made.
“I feel the hiring of Freeze was slightly pre-determined,” junior Sha’ Simpson of New Albany said. “Overall, I wasn’t shocked about the decision. I feel like the committee did make a good decision.”
Other Ole Miss head coaches attended the ceremony as well, including men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy and softball coach Windy Thees. Thees agrees she sees great things for Freeze.
“I’m excited. He seems to have a true passion and love for the kids,” Thees said. “Having passion will take you a long way.”