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Hugh Freeze excited about rivalry with Nick Saban, Alabama: ‘I hope they’re a little nervous today’

Hugh Freeze is the new head coach of Auburn football and the storylines are plentiful. 

Freeze returns to the SEC after resigning as head coach of Ole Miss prior to the start of the 2017 season after a “pattern of personal misconduct” was discovered, including that Freeze had placed calls to numbers associated with an escort service from his work phone. 

Head coach Hugh Freeze of the Liberty Flames on the sidelines during the Arkansas game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Nov. 5, 2022, in Fayetteville.
(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

It’s also no secret that Auburn was interested in current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, turning to Freeze after Kiffin signed a new deal to remain in Oxford, Mississippi. 

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And then there are the storylines that will take place between the lines on the football field. 

At Auburn, there is one job – beat Alabama. 

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and offensive line coach Eric Wolford on the sideline during the Mississippi Rebels game on Nov. 12, 2022, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and offensive line coach Eric Wolford on the sideline during the Mississippi Rebels game on Nov. 12, 2022, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
(Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s been three years since the Tigers found a way to beat Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, and the Auburn faithful are hopeful the program has found the right man to flip the script.

Freeze has defeated Saban twice in his career, scoring back-to-back wins over Alabama in 2014 and 2015 while at Ole Miss. 

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He understands the importance of the Iron Bowl, telling reporters at his introductory press conference that he welcomes the challenge Alabama presents. 

Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze, left, and athletic director John Cohen pose at a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Auburn, Alabama.

Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze, left, and athletic director John Cohen pose at a news conference Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, in Auburn, Alabama.
(AP Photo/Todd Van Emst)

“You don’t take this job if you’re not built to want that,” Freeze said when asked about the future matchups with Saban. “I welcome that. I want it. I want to be in that arena.” 

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“I have great respect for Nick,” he continued. “He and Mrs. Terry have been great friends to us too, but I hope they’re a little nervous today.”

Freeze takes over on The Plains after going 34-15 at Liberty University in four years as head coach. 

Auburn has not won more than nine games since the 2017 season. 

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