Would anyone at Alabama ever say no to Nick Saban? We might be about to find out.
By all accounts, Saban has carte blanche to do as he pleases as the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He just brought the school its fifth national title in nine years and has effectively caught or surpassed Bear Bryant in the eyes of many when it comes to Bama football lore. It’s unlikely anyone at the school or in the state would want to do anything to upset him or stop him from doing what he thinks he needs to do to win a sixth title.
However, according to Tidesports.com, Saban might be asking too much for a recent hiring request. Aaron Suttles is reporting that Saban “is really pushing for [Hugh] Freeze to be an on-the-field coach.”
Freeze was the head coach at Ole Miss for five seasons before “resigning” this past off-season over allegations of misconduct and breaking the morals clause in his contract after he was caught calling escorts on his school phone. Many of the wins during his tenure were also vacated due to multiple NCAA violations involving ineligible players. Freeze was charged with failure to monitor and not promoting an atmosphere of compliance before he resigned.
Morals and violations aside, Freeze did a good job at Ole Miss, compiling a 39-25 record, including multiple wins over Saban’s Alabama squad. However, we live in the post-Penn State and Baylor world, where you can no longer brush aside the violations and off-field issues because a coach is very good at their job. Saban seems to think he can circumvent that but, according to Suttles, it’s unlikely that SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey will see it that way. Because of the issues that Freeze was involved with at Ole Miss, Sankey is said to require a sign-off on Freeze’s hiring at any SEC school and he doesn’t appear very keen on it.
Suttles also notes that some within the Alabama program are also pushing against the idea of hiring Freeze. It’s also worth mentioning that Freeze resigned before serving a two-game suspension he was due at Ole Miss over the NCAA violations, and that would carry over to any new position as well. He’s also been slapped with a one-year show-cause penalty, though that only comes into play if he is hired as a head coach.
If Freeze does end up taking a position with the Tide, we’ll know once and for all who really runs SEC football. If he doesn’t, we’ll know that checks and balances still exist, even when it comes to Nick Saban and Alabama.