- College football reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of the University of Tennessee
Liberty has reached a new deal with Hugh Freeze that will make him one of the highest-paid non-Power 5 coaches in college football, sources told ESPN on Tuesday night.
The university is expected to officially announce the new contract on Wednesday. Sources told ESPN that Freeze’s total financial package would average more than $4 million annually over the length of the contract and run through the 2028 season.
Freeze’s new deal at Liberty will be worth more or at least comparable to what five different SEC coaches are making.
In his third season at Liberty, Freeze has the Flames 7-4 heading into their regular-season finale Saturday against Army. He guided Liberty to a program-best 10-1 record a year ago and a No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
Liberty is one of two teams in NCAA history to win bowl games during their first full two seasons at the FBS level. The Flames beat No. 9-ranked Coastal Carolina 37-34 in overtime in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl last season. It was Liberty’s first-ever win over a nationally ranked FBS opponent. And during Freeze’s first season in 2019, Liberty beat Georgia Southern 23-16 in the Cure Bowl.
Liberty has competed as an independent program in football since moving up to the FBS level in 2018, but it will move to Conference USA beginning with the 2023 season.
Freeze also received an extension and raise a year ago that took him through the 2026 season and increased his salary to more than $3 million per year.
As Ole Miss’ coach, Freeze guided the Rebels to 19 wins during the 2014-15 seasons, the 2015 season capped by the school’s first Sugar Bowl victory since 1970. Freeze resigned on July 17, 2017, after the school said it found a pattern of improper calls on his university-issued cellphone.
Freeze, one of the top offensive minds in the college game, was out of coaching for two years after leaving Ole Miss. He talked to Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee about various coordinator/assistant roles before taking the Liberty job.
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