Liberty and Hugh Freeze have agreed to a new eight-year deal that will take the coach through the 2030 season, the university announced Friday. Though the terms of the contract were not released -- Liberty is a private university -- it is a fully guaranteed extension that will pay Freeze $40 million over the next eight seasons, sources told CBS Sports. The blockbuster contract for a Group of Five program comes less than a year after the two parties agreed to an extension through 2028 worth roughly $4 million per year. Under the newest deal, Freeze's average annual salary will increase to $5 million.
"We are grateful for Coach Freeze's outstanding leadership of Liberty Football and the positive influence he has on our student-athletes," said athletic director Ian McCaw in a statement. "Liberty Football is realizing the vision that was cast for it decades ago and we are excited that Coach Freeze will lead the program into the future."
Freeze's extension comes at an interesting time. His success has further solidified his on-field coaching ability, which could be attractive to Power Five programs searching for a coach in the offseason. The buyout in Freeze's new contract with Liberty isn't big enough to prevent potential suitors from pursing him, however, according to Sports Illustrated.
Freeze, 53, is 33-12 in three-plus years leading the Flames, which sit at 7-1 this season with the only blemish coming from a 37-36 loss to Wake Forest on Sept. 17. He arrived Liberty as it transitioned to the Football Bowl Subdivision as an independent, and he has been a driving force behind the rise of a program that will join Conference USA in 2023, along with Jacksonville State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston. Freeze has led the Flames to three straight bowl appearances -- all wins -- and his 2020 team that finished 10-1 ranked No. 17 in the final AP Top 25.
Freeze's career includes a 39-25 record at Ole Miss from 2012-16, which peaked in 2015 with a 10-3 season that ended with a Sugar Bowl win over Oklahoma State and a No. 10 ranking in the final AP Top 25. His time at Ole Miss came to an end prior to the 2017 season after the school found that Freeze made inappropriate calls from his school-issued cell phone. The NCAA later placed the Rebels on probation and vacated 27 wins from Freeze's stint.
Liberty is approaching an open week, but will return to an SEC stadium on Nov. 5 when the Flames travel Arkansas to take on Sam Pittman's Razorbacks.