Coaching From A Hospital Bed

Are you kidding me?

Jim Rome
September 03, 2019 - 11:01 am
Hugh Freeze

USA Today

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Somehow I managed to get through a conversation about Week 1 of college football without mentioning Danny Hugh Freeze Junior. That isn’t because I didn’t catch his act on Saturday night, it’s because I needed some space to lay it out.

HEY-OOOOOO.

Because as always, whenever you’re talking about Hugh Freeze, there is a lot to talk about. And if there is a way that Hugh Freeze can embarrass himself, he will find that way. 

After all, this is a guy who lost his gig at Ole Miss for calling sex workers on a cell phone. Sorry, let me rephrase that - he was calling sex workers on his school issued cell phone.

And when he was busted, he had the audacity to tell Yahoo that he had accidentally misdialed the number: “I’ve got no idea, to be honest. I was in an 813 area code and that was a 313 number, I think that might have been a misdial. I don’t think there was even a conversation. There’s nothing to it.”

As always, when it doubt, go with the old, “accidentally dialed a sex worker” excuse. Works every time. It happens. It happens to us all.

And then, when he couldn’t get a new gig, he had the audacity to show up at the Little Rock Touchdown Club last season and say that part of the reason he couldn’t be hired was “the climate in America the last year probably affects a lot of administrator’s decision making.”

Yep, it was that. Definitely the climate. And certainly had nothing to do with the fact that schools might be worried about hiring a guy who used a company phone to call sex workers errr, accidentally misdialed a sex number a time or ten.

Because according to the Wall Street Journal, “the university’s investigation uncovered “calls of a similar nature” over the course of several years, often matching up with travel logs showing the coach’s use of the school plane. The school said it examined his travel logs from peak recruiting times—often November, December and January—when Freeze would travel out of state, using the school plane and other public resources.”

But yes, it was about the climate, that’s why he couldn’t get a gig.

So what kind of a school and a school would hire Hugh Freeze after all that?

Well, the school is Liberty University and the athletic director is Ian McCaw, the same guy who resigned in disgrace from Baylor after presiding over a sexual assault cover up in the football program.

Honestly, if I never had to talk about Hugh Freeze and Ian McCaw again, it would be a good thing. But Hugh won’t let me avoid him.

Because for his first game at Liberty, Hugh Freeze coached from a hospital bed. In the stadium.

If that sounds weird, it was. And if that sounds embarrassing and stupid, that’s Hugh Freeze.

A couple weeks back, Freeze had surgery on his back for a herniated disk and treatment for a staph infection. The initial plan was that he wouldn’t coach the game, because, you know, it would be idiotic and embarrassing to have the face of the program calling the game from a hospital bed.

But when the face of the program is Hugh Freeze, how much more embarrassing can it get? Answer: a lot.

According to ESPN, they got Freeze and his hospital bed into the stadium, then shoved him into a booth in the press box and cut a hole in the wall so that he could see his coaches in the room next door.

That gave the world the images of Hugh Freeze in a hospital bed in the booth that became instant memes.

Freeze said afterwards: "Obviously, we could talk and I was looking dead at them through the hole, but it wasn't the same. I was wearing my normal headset where I could flip back and forth between the offense and defense. But not being able to talk to the officials and look my quarterbacks in the eyes, it was just really, really different and really, really odd.”

Odd? Really? Which part was odd? Was it the part where you were coaching the game from a hospital bed? Was that odd? Or was it the part where you conducted your pregame talk and your postgame press conference via video link from your hospital bed?

Even better was when they did the halftime interview from his hospital bed.

I don’t want to make light of his health conditions, because as Freeze told ESPN, the staph infection was serious: "The doctors told me if it had been another 24 hours, that strand of bacteria could have gotten to my heart and that I would have been fighting for my life."

If that’s the case, sit this one out. Take the weekend off. Rest up. Get right.

And don’t humiliate yourself and your program by having the head coach show up in a hospital bed. That’s what a normal person would do.

Instead, Hugh Freeze is making it seem like he’s George Gipp and he’s going to make Liberty win one for the Freezer.

He went on to say that he wasn’t making it about him, it was about the team: "I'm sure some people out there probably think I was doing it for attention, but I can promise you it's not that. It wasn't any fun, but it was important to me to be there for my players, my coaches and all of the people at Liberty who have done so much for me."

Right. Sure. Okay. Fine. Whatever you say, Hugh. It’s not a pub grab. Cool.

But here’s the thing. Here’s my rule when it comes to coaching games from a hospital bed: you better win. And if you can’t win, you damn well better get on the scoreboard.

You cannot roll into your own stadium in a hospital bed, have them carve a hole in the wall so you can talk to your coaches, and then get shut out at home 24-0 by Syracuse.

That is unacceptable. I know Syracuse is good and that Liberty is not.

But you cannot show up in a hospital bed and have your offense rush for negative-four yards.

You have to at least get fifty on the ground at home. That’s the bare minimum for a hospital bed game.

Are you kidding me? If your team sees you in a hospital bed, coaching from the press box, and they have negative rushing yards, you have to quit. That’s the deal.

Because that says to me that either you can’t coach or you can’t motivate. Or both.

Don’t put your team in that spot. And don’t put my guy Dino Babers in the spot where instead of walking across the field to shake your hand, he has to walk across the field and point up to you in the press box. That was a class act by Dino and a circus act by Hugh.