Auburn didn’t sign Lane Kiffin, and as predicted, the coaching search (in the eyes of the media) took a strange turn.
The Auburn Daily, along with many other outlets, reported that if Kiffin wasn’t the Auburn hire, there was no telling who would be next or where John Cohen would look first.
Hugh Freeze was the first name out of the bucket after Kiffin turned down the job, and the suggestion was met with immediate pushback from some of Auburn’s online fanbase.
Freeze is still a candidate for the opening, but things have definitely cooled in his corner after yesterday’s comments from fans on social media.
Here are some of the candidates the Tigers are currently looking at, along with an update on their bios and notes:
Hugh Freeze – Liberty Flames
Record at Liberty: 34-14
Overall score: 75-46
Head coaching experience: Lambuth, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, Liberty
Other experience: Ole Miss (TE), Arkansas State (OC)
Auburn was preparing to make an offer to Liberty’s Hugh Freeze to become Auburn’s next head football coach, according to multiple reports Saturday morning.
“For that to come out, and I wasn’t offered the job, but it was definitely hard to deny that message,” Freese said after the Liberty’s loss to New Mexico State on Saturday. “Is the job everyone’s talking about one I’d be interested in talking to? Of course. That doesn’t mean I was offered a job… The part that’s false is that there was no offer made to me, nor did I accept anything.”
After losing his last three games to weaker opponents, the buzz surrounding Freeze as a second option died down — and he was essentially taken off social media after the initial report.
Fans don’t seem thrilled with the thought of hiring Freeze based on the baggage he brings with him.
Dabo Swinney – Clemson Tigers
Record at Clemson: 160-38
Overall record: 160-38
Head coaching experience: Clemson
Other experience: Alabama (GA, WR, TE), Clemson (WR, AHC, OC)
Several outlets have confirmed that Dabo Swinney is on John Cohen’s target list. Rumors that Swinney’s representatives were in talks with Auburn circulated a few weeks ago.
These rumors have already been debunked.
Whether Swinney is truly interested in the job remains to be seen. Auburn would be making a huge move if this hire were to happen.
There’s not enough here yet to dive into this as a serious possibility. Also, keep in mind that if Cohen grabs Swinney from Clemson, an announcement (probably) won’t be made until after the ACC Championship game.
James Franklin – Penn State Nittany Lions
Record at Penn State: 77-36
Total score: 101-51
Head coaching experience: Vanderbilt, Penn State
Other experience: Kutztown (WR), East Stroudsburg (DB), Rosklide Kings (OC), James Madison (WR), Washington State (TE), Idaho State (WR), Maryland (WR), Green Bay Packers (WR), Kansas State (OC, QB), Maryland (AHC, OC, QB)
Franklin has been rumored to be Cohen’s big mystery candidate, but considering his name has been out of the bag for so long, it’s hard to imagine he’s the biggest fish the Tigers are chasing.
However, just because he isn’t the biggest name on the roster doesn’t mean he won’t be a solid hire.
Would it be a surprise to see Franklin move out of Pennsylvania and back into the SEC landscape?
Cadillac Williams – Auburn Tigers
Record at Auburn: 2-2
Total score: 2-2
Head coaching experience: Auburn
Other experience: West Georgia (GA), Birmingham Iron (RB), Auburn (RB)
Cadillac gave Auburn fans something they haven’t truly felt since the end of the 2021-22 men’s basketball season: Happiness.
Arguably, there is no better person to fill the head coaching role, which perfectly describes the Tigers’ need for a good “culture fit.”
Let it be known that culture fit isn’t the only thing Auburn is looking for. There don’t seem to be any reports suggesting Cohen or the university are seriously considering Williams for the boss job, but Cadillac has done everything it can, short of winning the Iron Cup, to put itself in decent position for the job if the Tigers’ search does not go to plan .
He may not become a head coach now, but what some fans are advocating is for Williams to go and get more head coaching experience elsewhere and return to the Tigers in the future.
He is and will be loved by all fans. The support would be insane.
Brian Johnson – Philadelphia Eagles
Total score: 0-0
Other experience: Utah, (QB, OC), Mississippi State (QB), Houston (QB, OC), Florida (QB, OC), Philadelphia Eagles (QB)
Johnson has yet to step into a head coaching role. However, he was recognized by Dan Mullen as his best recruiter on staff during Mullen’s time at Florida and developed a solid line of quarterbacks … most recently Jalen Hurts, who improved dramatically from the season of recruits under Johnson’s watch.
He is on Cohen’s list. How far up or down that list we don’t know. A source familiar with Auburn football locker room dynamics and culture told Auburn Daily that “If Auburn picks a guy like that with no head coaching experience over Caddy, the locker room won’t react well.”
We’re not against Johnson, who has had a very solid coaching career thus far, but there could be a break from the fanbase if that’s the direction Auburn decides to go.
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