Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has shown a desire to continue coaching some capacity. Unfortunately for him, that opportunity won’t be coming in the SEC. As some have speculated in recent months, the SEC allegedly blocked the hiring of the disgraced Rebels head coach for fear of how bad it would look for the entire SEC. According to a report from Al.com, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told Freeze and Alabama the conference would prefer Freeze go “off the radar for at least a little while” before any returning to work at any SEC institution.
In January, it was a poorly-kept secret that Alabama head coach Nick Saban was interested in hiring Freeze to fill a role as offensive coordinator. At the time, it was reported that hiring would not be allowed by the SEC despite Saban pushing to allow for it. What was not as well known at the time was Alabama was not the only school showing interest in Freeze in a coaching role. According to the Al.com report, LSU and Missouri each took a flyer on Freeze only to be locked out of the possibility by the SEC.
The basis for the apparent blackballing of Freeze around the SEC stems from a rule, bylaw 220.127.116.11, that states any school wishing to hire a coach associated with unethical conduct that has resulted in NCAA violations must consult with the league commissioner. Sankey, in this role, provides the oversight for hires around the conference in an effort to uphold the integrity of the SEC brand. With Ole Miss slapped with a two-year postseason ban, that means Freeze is a coach that must be approved by the commissioner of the SEC.
As of now, there has been no action by Freeze to fight this supposed hiring ban in the SEC. He remains unemployed while Ole Miss continues to work its way through sanctions he was ultimately responsible for. As the bylaw is written, Freeze is not actually ineligible to be hired within the SEC. Instead, any school wanting to hire him must convince Sankey why the hire would be beneficial and how it wouldn’t harm the SEC as a whole. But if not even Saban can make that case, Freeze may have to wait a little longer for the water in the SEC to cool before dipping his toes back into coaching in the southeast.
Let’s face it. Alabama’s biggest kryptonite over the past decade has seemingly been its special teams game, but Alabama has fared quite well in spite of the special teams deficiencies more often than not. Regardless, Alabama’s constant struggles kicking the football remain one of the few areas of concern for Nick Saban on an annual basis.
But not this spring, perhaps?
Alabama kicker Joseph Bulocas connected on four of five field goal attempts, each said to be longer than 20 yards out, during a scrimmage on Saturday. Saban’s response?
“That was encouraging,” Saban said according to Al.com. “I think probably more than anyone out there on the field today, and I thought Joe handled this pretty well, is when you have bad conditions, how is it going to effect you as a specialist? I thought Joe handled it really well.”
That’s really about as close to a glowing review you might get out of Saban at any time of the year, including in spring.
Alabama’s kicking duties are up for grabs between Bulovas and graduate transfer Austin Jones. Jones, who is set to graduate from Temple this spring, will join the Crimson Tide later this summer and join the competition for the starting job.
Alabama ranked 90th in the nation in field goal accuracy last season, converting 19 of 28 attempts. Jones was Temple’s second kicker in 2017, and he converted four of five attempts for the Owls.
Bear Bryant is widely regarded as one of college football’s all-time greatest head coaches. Now his great-grandson will be playing football for another all-time great.
Paul Tyson, a four-star pro-style Class of 2019 quarterback according to Rivals, announced his commitment to play for Alabama and head coach Nick Saban. What makes this commitment a tad different from your typical recruiting announcement is Tyson is the great-grandson of Bryant. Playing for Alabama may have felt like destiny given the family history.
“I felt the same calling that my Great Grandfather had when he was asked to come home,” Tyson said in a statement on Twitter, referencing Bryant’s decision to come coach at Alabama after previously coaching at Texas A&M. Bryant coached at Texas A&M from 1954 through 1957 and then moved to Alabama to coach the Tide from 1958 through 1982, where he coached Alabama to six national championships and 14 SEC titles. Saban has won five national titles at (six total) and five SEC titles (seven total) at Alabama.
Other schools Tyson was reportedly considering included LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Duke, but Alabama had long been considered a pretty easy favorite.
LeBron James vs. Nick Saban. It’s happening.
The NBA all-star and noted Ohio State fan has reportedly sent a letter to Alabama’s football program expressing a concern over possible copyright infringement regarding a series of online videos capturing typical barbershop conversations, according to ESPN. Alabama shared a tease for the first episode of it’s “Shop Talk” on Twitter recently, and it was quickly met with a letter from James’ multimedia company, Uninterrupted.
The Alabama video series preview shows a glimpse of a barbershop conversation involving Alabama head coach Nick Saban and former Crimson Tide standout Julio Jones.
James’s online video series is dubbed “The Shop” and has already released a pair of episodes on Uninterrupted.
It is worth noting that imitation is the cheapest form of flattery in many respects, and this sort of stuff happens all the time in various forms. There are few original ideas out there to use to your advantage any more, and Alabama using a barbershop series to help promote its program is just another example of that. How far this friction will go with Uninterrupted remains to be seen, although the letter sent to Alabama seeks to come to a peaceful resolution through conversation rather than have to resort to any legal proceedings if they can be avoided.
The SEC may be packing up their media day extravaganza and moving from Alabama to Atlanta, but this year’s media day schedule shows the SEC will still carefully roll out plenty of storylines over the course of a four-day love fest for the conference.
The SEC is setting up shop at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which feels like a great landing spot for the new media day fun for the SEC. The conference has established Atlanta as a destination point for the end of the regular season and the city just played host to the first College Football Playoff national championship game between two teams from the same conference, the SEC (Alabama and Georgia). So why not kickstart a new football season with the media in Atlanta too?
New Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher will be the headline act for the first of the four media days for the SEC. Fisher will make his SEC Media Days debut as head coach of the Aggies on Monday, July 16. Other coaches speaking that day will be LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Day 2 will be an interesting one with Georgia’s Kirby Smart in the spotlight coming off the SEC championship last fall and new Florida head coach Dan Mullen addresses the media for the first time as the Gators coach, although the former Mississippi State head coach is no stranger to the SEC media day circuit by now. Day 2 will also be the first SEC Media Day introduction for new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and second-year Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke (Luke took over as head coach in Oxford after SEC Media Days last summer following the removal of Hugh Freeze not long after media days).
But when is Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaking, you ask? Day 3 (Wed., July 18 for those keeping track). Saban headlines the third day of the media day event for the SEC. Two other coaches speaking that day will be new head coaches in the SEC with former Saban assistant Jeremy Pruitt representing Tennessee and Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State stepping to the SEC podium for the first time. Missouri’s Barry Odom is also scheduled on day three. Day 4 will feature Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason.
Player representatives for each school in addition to any other speakers will be announced at a later time.