Day Nine and Still No Tennessee Volunteers Offensive Coordinator

Marky Billson
4 min readDec 4, 2018
Marky Billson, host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

If Hugh Freeze was going to be the offensive coordinator at Tennessee, he’d likely have been hired already.

His supposed competition for the job; Jim McElwain and Chip Lindsey, have taken other jobs. The other rumored candidates are either made up by delusional people who still believe the year is 1998 (Freddie Kitchens, Brian McClendon, and Jim Chaney aren’t coming, folks), candidates likely hedging their bets on getting promoted at their own school to offensive coordinator if the current one leaves for a head coaching position (Dan Enos, Brandon Streeter), or candidates who would underwhelm the fan base (Will Friend, Eli Drinkwitz).

So what’s the hang up with Freeze?

Why is this man still available? And playing his current employer as if they are repulsive.

A- A year after Tennessee passed on Greg Schiano as former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary revealed in an unsealed disposition both Schiano and fellow assistant coach Tom Bradley knew of Jerry Sandusky’s improper actions with young boys, hiring Freeze, who was forced to resign as Ole Miss’ coach after calls to an escort service and recruiting violations were uncovered, would appear hypocritical.

While hiring prostitutes isn’t a crime along the level of child molestation, it should be noted there’s a paper trail with Freeze there isn’t with Schiano. The Pittsburgh Steelers even hired Bradley to be their defensive backs coach this season, well knowing of the McQueary allegations.

B- Hiring Freeze will likely put the scope of NCAA compliance directors on Tennessee.

C- Now that there is a buzz surrounding Freeze, his name has come up for more than just the Tennessee job. Auburn, Florida State, Alabama if Mike Locksley is hired to be the new head coach at Maryland, and even head coach at Liberty.

Though many have speculated getting the approval from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey to hire Freeze for a job in the conference would be a formality, he was turned down once in regards to the Rebels’ probation. He wouldn’t have to ask nice of a conference commissioner to get the Florida State job.

Liberty is also intriguing as it is a program on the rise and despite his penchant for the ladies of the evening, Freeze has always been outspoken on his Christian faith.

Hypocritical? Perhaps. But if Liberty wishes to play the Christian forgiveness card that is their own prerogative.

It could very well be Freeze’s talented agent, Jimmy Sexton, is doing what an agent does- play the market for the best deal for his client. And it much easier to succeed at Alabama than Tennessee.

And, yes, there are the rumors certain powers that be at Tennessee are not keen to bring Freeze to Knoxville for the reasons stated above.

But it’s also obvious Tennessee is not the plum coaching job it once was. If last year’s coaching search didn’t convince you of that, nothing will. This search is proving that.

Still, the search makes no sense. The Volunteers are one of the most profitable college football programs in the country, they should not have a problem paying a coach. Simply open up the checkbook and bring in who you like.

Even if Tennessee is not the program they were, they do not have to hunt for deals on used cars for coaches. They can go to their favorite lot and buy the latest model.

So why they haven’t been able to do this with the offensive coordinator of their choice is not a positive sign, no matter who is hired.

It goes hand-in-hand with paying Pruitt only the eighth-best head coaching salary in the conference and, for that matter, giving Holly Warlick only a three-year and not a four-year extension as their head women’s basketball coach and paying her significantly less than Dawn Staley and Geno Auriemma.

One final note on Freeze; why hasn’t Rick Neuheisel, head coach of the Arizona Hotshots, hasn’t fired him yet? Neuheisel gave Freeze a legitimate chance to advance in to professional football when his name was mud. Two months before the season begins, Freeze repays this by openly flirting with the likes of Western Kentucky and Liberty, not to mention the Southeastern Conference.

Neuheisel can’t have an offensive coordinator who thinks his job is second best. If college is the pursuit Freeze wishes to follow, then it’s best to find a coach who would like to work in pro football and can give me the commitment needed to succeed.

It’s likely a product of the Alliance of American Football’s system of having the league own the teams, instead of individual owners vested in winning.

But if Freeze is hired elsewhere, it leads one to ask who the next Tennessee offensive coordinator will be.

It may be a case of “who’s left” with Drinkwitz and Friend.

And if it is Friend, the embattled Vols’ offensive line coach, then the honeymoon period will be officially over for Pruitt in Knoxville.

Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW 12–2 pm ET weekdays on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities. Watch him live and archived here and here.