Arkansas State coach capitalizes on notoriety

First-year Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze calls a play during practice in Jonesboro, Ark. Freeze has made the most of his fame as current NFL player Michael Oher's high school coach in Memphis in the book and film The Blind Side.

JONESBORO, Ark. --- Hugh Freeze has never read The Blind Side, other than a few passages highlighted by his wife.


Freeze has never seen the entire movie, either, but he's heard enough about both to know he comes across as less than favorable during his time as the Memphis high school coach of Baltimore Ravens' lineman Michael Oher.

Setting all that aside, the new Arkansas State coach has made the most of his opportunities and notoriety. And he and his coaching staff aren't afraid to use that as they try to build the Red Wolves into a Sun Belt Conference contender.

"I use it all the time," Arkansas State tight ends coach Maurice Harris said. "Let's say I'm taking to a tight end from Texas. He doesn't know much about Arkansas State University, but I guarantee you he's seen The Blind Side , and he knows who Michael Oher is.

"All of a sudden, the kid is looking us up on the Internet because of that one connection with coach Freeze."

The 41-year-old Freeze was hired to replace Steve Roberts as head coach in December. The new job is part of a quick ascension for Freeze, who went from coach at Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis to FBS head coach in six years.

Freeze spent 13 years coaching at Briarcrest, hired as the head coach when he was 25. During that time, the school went 99-23 and won a pair of state championships.

It was there that Oher first met Freeze.

"I could tell right away when I first met him that he's a player's coach and you can't do anything but love him," Oher said. "He's just a great guy all around. If he has anything, you can have it. That's the kind of guy he is."

"I expect big things out of him, knowing the type of guy he is, the kind of coach he is," Oher said. "I even tell people now in a couple of years he might be a head coach in the NFL one day, all types of things.

"The guy just has so many different things in his mind that can win you a ball game."



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