Auburn coach Hugh Freeze has been on the job for just over three months, and he has been drinking from a fire hose ever since. His challenges may be unlike any coach has faced in recent memory due both to a college football landscape that's greatly evolved since he last coached an SEC program and past transgressions that led to his hiatus from the Power Five level. 

The first challenge to tackle: put those transgressions in the rearview mirror.

Freeze stepped down as coach at Ole Miss in July 2017 after the university discovered a call was made from his school-issued cell phone to a number associated with an escort service. That led to discovering what was deemed a "pattern of personal misconduct," which Freeze admitted to the moment that he parted ways with the Rebels. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to grow as a person, and that's what happened to the Freeze family. 

Freeze and his wife, Jill, have done as much as possible to have conversations with people around the program detailing his vision for his second stint as an SEC head coach. Of course, that takes a considerable amount of time management considering he's tasked with rebuilding a storied football program in addition to his image. 

"I'm thrilled that my family is as strong as its ever been, and we have become better with everything that we've gone through," Freeze told CBS Sports. "Take the time to get to know us, and you will see that. Jill and I have been to countless events to try to make sure that they understand our philosophy as we become part of the community. That has gone about as well as it can go."

Freeze was out of coaching for two years before he went 34-15 at Liberty from 2019-22. Now returning to the SEC, he's stepped into a much different world than the one he left in 2017. NIL is dominating conversations, transfer portal windows have been established and roster management is more complicated than solving a Rubik's Cube while blindfolded. 

The NIL battle has been particularly difficult for Freeze. NCAA rules prohibit schools from using potential those deals during the recruiting process, but there have been countless instances that suggest it is has quickly evolved into a tool used to lure players on campus.

"To me, it should be for your locker room and for the ones who have created value for themselves, not the reason you choose a school," Freeze said. "That's what I believe. I think that's what it was intended for. I really want to do that. I don't want it to be the sole reason you choose a school. I do think our collective is incredibly fair with the examples that we can give for how our team is going to be treated. There has to be a sense of 'Man, I gotta come and earn that.' I was kind of thrown into the fire so late, and every dang discussion ... that's what they wanted to talk about. That was uncomfortable. I didn't like that at all.

"I'm excited to get in a full recruiting cycle to where we can have these honest, frank discussions and I can give them my opinion on why you should choose the school and you can absolutely should try to create great value for yourself."

Auburn was ranked No. 18 in the final 2023 247Sports Composite rankings despite the fire into which Freeze was tossed. That ranking was due, in large part, to 12 new players that signed out of the transfer portal as the Tigers compiled the fifth-best transfer class in the country. The class includes three offensive linemen and four defensive linemen, which was part of Freeze's plan from the outset. 

"We had to try to get depth in the offensive line and defensive line first for this league," he said. "The only way that I knew how to do that was the portal. We are excited about numbers that we signed and the guys we signed out of the portal who have experience to try to lay us a foundation of how we are going to keep. In the future, I would hope to have it 75-25 high school to transfer players. That's what I hope it looks like in the future."

Whether Freeze leads Auburn back to glory remains to be seen. But he managed to navigate through a wild first three months on the job to a get to a point where normalcy -- actually coaching football -- is on the horizon.