Alabama was one of at least five SEC schools that had contact with Freeze about on-field jobs this offseason. Saban wanted to hire Freeze as a co-offensive coordinator and position coach, sources told AL.com.
However, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey encouraged Alabama not to hire a man as well known for the personal shortcomings that led to his Ole Miss resignation as he is for his success as a coach.
It’s the primary reason why Saban, the highest-paid and most powerful coach in college football, couldn’t add Freeze to his staff this offseason, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation who provided previously unreported details about Alabama’s pursuit of the former Ole Miss head coach.
Last summer, Freeze was forced out after five good years at Ole Miss after the school was alerted to a number of calls Freeze had made to a phone number associated with an escort service. The school later said it uncovered a “concerning pattern” of similar calls, and Freeze was quickly run out.
By January, that had all blown over as far as Nick Saban was concerned.
It was only a few days after Saban’s mid-January meeting with Freeze that he learned he couldn’t make the hire. Sankey informed both Freeze and Alabama that it would look bad for the SEC for Freeze to be back coaching in the league while Ole Miss suffered from NCAA penalties incurred under his watch. The SEC preferred that Freeze, who resigned in July following a “pattern of personal misconduct,” go off the radar for at least a little while before trying to return to work at one of its schools.
This report has been neither confirmed nor denied by the SEC, which declined AL.com’s request for comment. According to the newspaper, Missouri, LSU and others also looked into hiring Freeze, but backed off for the same reason Saban did.