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Hugh Freeze a clear-cut Coach of the Year candidate

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Kevin C. Cox

During my four years at Ole Miss, I felt honored and privileged to be a part of a program with such great tradition and support. I've had some incredibly fond memories at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, particularly with our Rebels coaches, teammates and fans that made up a close-knit football family.

This year I'm proud to see that tradition continued with second-year coach Hugh Freeze making a meaningful impact. Freeze surprised college football writers around the country in his first season with a 7-6 record leading the Rebels. Most importantly, the team finished strong with a 38-17 victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. To date, Ole Miss is 4-3 on the year, coming fresh off a big home win versus top-10 LSU, and on the road against Vanderbilt and Texas.

I was a co-chair of the search committee to hire Coach Freeze, who stood out as a natural choice for the job with his Mississippi blood, born in Oxford and raised in Independence, Miss. He was first hired by Ole Miss in 2005, later serving as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator through 2007. Now he's back and has the Ole Miss community excited and optimistic about the future of their football team.

In a short period, Freeze is already making his presence known off the field and in the community as well. He brought to Oxford a background as a big contributor in these areas, due in no small part to the fact that he and his wife are the parents of three lovely daughters, so he understands the importance of family and has applied that mindset to his extended football family both in the locker room and the community.

There are always going to be huge challenges to overcome in the SEC Conference, but with five consecutive home games leading into late November, Freeze and the Rebels will have a prime opportunity to bring even more joy to the loyal fans at Ole Miss.

Help support Coach Freeze for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year Award at CoachoftheYear.com, or submit your vote on Facebook at Facebook.com/LMCoachoftheYear.