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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Preach, Hugh Freeze: Auburn is a long way from elite

Hugh Freeze told the truth. Right there in front of God, Greg Sankey and everybody who's anybody or wants to be in the expanding upscale orbit of the Southeastern Conference. The prodigal son, making his return to SEC Football Media Days, more repentant than triumphant, stood behind a sleek lectern Tuesday afternoon and stripped away some of the unwarranted enthusiasm that tends to drip from the mike at this event.

Freeze did for the Auburn family what he said the commissioner has always done for him. Shot 'em dead straight. Told 'em what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear. So hear this, all you Loveliest Villagers.

Like it or not, Auburn is not an elite football program.

Your new coach didn't say it in such a direct, indelicate way, but he did say this: "We've got to start closing the gap on the elite programs in this conference."

It's one thing for anyone else to state the painfully obvious. The painfully obvious hits different when it comes from your mostly sunny new leader at a shiny, happy infomercial of a made-for-TV production. This is not the kind of message designed to spark a flood of donations to the On to Victory collective.

Give Freeze credit for not pumping artificial sunshine into a family in desperate need of some Vitamin D, stuck as Auburn is between the rock in Tuscaloosa and the hard place in Athens. Alabama and Georgia, of course, are the only two elite football programs in the league at the moment, and they happen to be Auburn's biggest rivals, at least historically. Freeze has inherited losing streaks to both that border on epic. ...

Read the rest of Kevin's column on Hugh Freeze's reality check. Only in the Lede. For more on SEC Media Days, subscribe to Kevin's newsletter here. Scarbo Knows will land in your email inbox every Thursday morning. Check it out.

New Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze gets animated at SEC Media Days 2023 in Nashville.



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