There’s a new sense of excitement for football on the campus of Auburn University.
On Oct. 31, 2022 (ironically Halloween and Nick Saban’s birthday), Auburn announced that Bryan Harsin was fired from leading the Auburn football program. For many students, if not all, there was a sigh of relief. Fast forward to Nov. 28, 2022, Hugh Freeze, a former coach at Ole Miss and Liberty, was announced as Auburn’s 31st head football coach.
Freeze takes over a program that has a new multi-million dollar football facility, an NIL collective that is healthy and ready to give and one of the most supportive fanbases in all of collegiate athletics. This all sounds great, however, Freeze inherits a program that needs a new identity and has a combined 17-19 record in the last three seasons. On his first full day on the job, Freeze hit the recruiting trail and the transfer portal hard.
Auburn was ranked at the bottom in the recruiting rankings, while rivals Alabama, Georgia and LSU were at the top in the conference and the nation. From south Florida to the heart of Texas, the new Auburn coaching staff was on the road putting in the hard work to fill the holes of a depleted roster. Early signing day arrives, and Freeze pulls together a top 20 recruiting class and a top 10 transfer portal class. Just incredible!
Freeze gets it. As he led 9,121+ fans in a roaring “War Eagle” chant in Neville Arena during the Arkansas basketball game, he knows what it takes to be at Auburn. From President Chris Roberts to Director of Athletics John Cohen, all is in the proper balance to put Auburn in a position to reclaim its spot back with the prestigious programs in college football.
When A-Day arrives in April, I expect students and fans of all backgrounds to be packed in Jordan-Hare Stadium to witness the dawn of a new era of Auburn football.
The Freeze era is a complete night and day compared to the previous administration. It is going to take more than one recruiting class to fully get back on track. Freeze’s first Junior Day was another step upward. Over 200 high school recruits from across the South gathered in the Woltosz Football Performance Center this past Saturday and saw a glimpse of the future of Auburn football — a future that could very well include them.
Many of the high schoolers left that day with Auburn as one of their top schools to choose and I would dare to say that I expect some of them to commit to Auburn sooner rather than later.
The offseason is fun again. Folks have a newfound pride in Auburn football. Is this what Auburn needed two years ago, which was the last time the Tigers were looking for a head coach? I can only imagine where the Tigers would be if Freeze was the man back then.
While the season awaits in the fall of 2023, signs of the offseason are pointing in the right direction. We all know that at Auburn, the impossible becomes possible, so I most definitely will not count this team out by no means necessary. Could another “Miracle in Jordan-Hare” be on the horizon? Beware of the Auburn Tigers, but until then let’s all sit back, relax, and “just watch.”
Freeze said it best: “I believe in work, hard work, which it will take. I believe in the spirit of being unafraid. I don’t fear much in life, and I don’t think our team will either. I believe in the people. It’s the Auburn Family. This place is special, and there’s no other place that I want to be. I believe in Auburn and love it. War Eagle!”
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Michael Floyd, junior in journalism, has been with The Plainsman since Spring 2021. He is a native of Brewton, Ala., an can be followed on Twitter here.