Auburn hired Hugh Freeze in November to put the Tigers back into the football national championship conversation.
Following a year in which Auburn went 5-7, Freeze arrived on The Plains after four years leading Liberty University.
And while his hiring was met with some backlash due to his time as head coach at Ole Miss, he has the support of one of Auburn’s most well-known alumni.
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Charles Barkley said he’s excited for Freeze’s first season at Auburn while hoping the fan base embraces him.
“Well, I was very disappointed the way the Auburn faithful treated coach [Bryan] Harsin,” Barkley said at the Regions Tradition pro-am golf tournament in Birmingham on Wednesday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “Very disappointed [in] the way we treated coach Harsin. But now we got coach Freeze. They’ve got to get behind him 100%.
“I talked to him a couple times. He knows I’m always on his speed dial if he ever needs anything, and I’m excited. I think under the circumstances, he did good recruiting-wise. I thought he did good in the transfer portal. Now, hey, the season’s going to start, and I’m excited.”
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Freeze returned to the SEC five years after resigning as head coach of Ole Miss after school officials uncovered a “pattern of personal misconduct,” starting with a call to a number used by an escort service from a university-issued cellphone. That issue came after the NCAA started an investigation into rules violations the football program committed under Freeze.
The NCAA found 21 violations of academic, booster and recruiting misconduct, most of which happened under Freeze’s watch. Ole Miss got a two-year postseason ban and recruiting restrictions for two years.
And while his time at Ole Miss ended poorly, Freeze did defeat Nick Saban and Alabama twice, beating the Crimson Tide in 2014 and 2015.
“That doesn’t matter to me, to be honest with you,” Barkley said. “It just matters what we do at Auburn. Coach Saban is the greatest college football coach ever. I got a lot of admiration and respect for him, but we just need to get ourselves together at Auburn. You never worry about other people.”
“Coach Saban is the greatest ever, but I like our coach. … I think we’re going to have a very good season.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.
Source – https://www.foxnews.com/sports/charles-barkley-backs-auburns-hugh-freeze-encourages-fan-freeze-theyve-get-behind-him-100
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