Nick Saban didn't exactly say the SEC stepped in to prevent Alabama from hiring a controversial former head coach, but he didn't exactly deny it either.
On Tuesday, Al.com reported that Saban had pushed to hire Hugh Freeze as a co-offensive coordinator and position coach, but SEC commissioner Greg Sankey urged the school to go in a different direction because of Freeze's off-the-field issues.
Freeze was reportedly mutually interested in a position with the Crimson Tide, but the conference wants to move on from the embattled coach -- essentially barring member schools from hiring Freeze. According to the report, 'Bama was one of five schools that reached out to Freeze during the off-season concerning positions on their staff.
Here's how Saban addressed the report surrounding Bama's interest in Freeze at an appearance at a fundraiser in Mobile Tuesday night via AL.com:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Hugh Freeze as a coach. I think he did a fabulous job when he was at Ole Miss. He has been a friend that I’ve shared ideas with and spent time with and know his family, as Miss Terry does know his family. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We also have a lot of respect for the SEC and what they think is, in some cases, best for the league relative to circumstances that people created for themselves.
But I have a lot of respect for Hugh, and I think he’ll be back in our profession, and we wish him and his family the very best, and if we can do anything to help him, we’ll be happy to do that.
Freeze resigned from his head coaching position at Ole Miss in July amidst a scandal that involved him using a school-issued cell phone to book escorts. There were also NCAA violations leveled on the Rebels from when Freeze was at the helm that resulted in a two-game suspension that he will avoid serving should he become an assistant coach somewhere.
Freeze remains one of only three coaches that has handed Saban multiple losses during his time with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama will have another former SEC head coach on its staff this year. The Crimson Tide hired former Tennessee coach Butch Jones as an analyst.