UT INSIDER: Freeze ‘would accept Vols job, likely wouldn’t happen until end of 2021 season’

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 21: Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Liberty Flames looks on during the third quarter of the 2019 Cure Bowl against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Exploria Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Hugh Freeze is 17-6 and has won the school’s first bowl game during his two seasons as Liberty’s head coach. Freeze’s long term success as a head coach has placed his name in discussion for jobs throughout the SEC.

The abysmal third year under Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee has fans calling for his job, and understandably so. After a 2-0 start and ranked inside the Top 25, the Vols then suffered five straight losses by double digits, until they snuck one out in Nashville defeating 0-8 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Rumors have been flying rampant on Twitter about whether or not Hugh Freeze is interested in the Tennessee job. You know, the job that isn’t even open yet? According to our UT Vol insider, the anxiety and high hopes for an early 2020 Christmas present are extremely unlikely.

“Nobody at UT has talked to Freeze, obviously. But it’s becoming a known fact that when he says he would only leave Liberty for ‘something special’, he’s talking about Tennessee.”

Freeze spoke out on Wednesday about being linked to the Auburn job opening:

“You never like to see people lose their jobs, ever,” Freeze said during his press conference Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period. “I’m not made that way to rejoice over anyone doing that. When you’re in this business, you know how much hurt is involved in that for all involved. You add to it, it’s one of your very dear friends, obviously, it’s unsettling and you hurt.

“I’ve been through that and I know what it’s like to lose a job, it’s not much fun, so my initial call was to Gus. I had a great conversation with him. He’s one of the best to do it now. He cares about his kids. He coaches it the right way. He’s the type of coach you want in this business, that was the initial thing, then you want to make sure your friend is okay. He will be fine, but there are a lot of other families that are affected by it.”

“I was fortunate to beat people like Nick Saban and Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen, that are in that league and with probably a lesser roster than what they had. Then you come here and have success and all the people that put you into that here deserve so much of the credit — mostly our kids and our players, so that’s a compliment and it’s humbling, but there are so many people that deserve credit for being mentioned and brings some notoriety to Liberty, but it also brings the negative side also.”

If you would’ve told a die hard Vol fan at halftime during the Tennessee-Georgia game that in two months, fans would be calling to fire Jeremy Pruitt and hire Hugh Freeze, they would probably call you crazy.

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal was confirmed to be the top target at Auburn, before news broke that he was in fact staying in Eugene.

Now, it appears Auburn has turned its focus internally and are eyeing to name DC Kevin Steele the new head coach, per sources.

“Listen, Hugh wants to be back in the SEC. He would accept the Vols job. The fact that he wasn’t interested in the South Carolina or Vanderbilt job, and isn’t interested in the Auburn job tells you all you need to know. It’s Tennessee or he’s sticking it out at Liberty until Fulmer pulls the trigger on Pruitt next year. The hopes are unrealistically high in Knoxville that Pruitt is fired at the end of the year, but that’s just not going to happen. But, if he fails miserably like this again next season, he’s gone. So the anxiety and angst are unnecessary right now.”


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