Liberty coach Hugh Freeze had surgery on Friday to address a potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection, according to ESPN. The infection came after severe back spasms forced him to miss nearly one week of fall camp.
"The doctors told me if it had been another 24 hours, that strand of bacteria could have gotten to my heart and that I would have been fighting for my life," Freeze told ESPN. "It's the way God works because there's no doubt that bacteria would have killed me if [Liberty] president [Jerry] Falwell wasn't so quick to make sure we got the right people involved."
According to ESPN, Falwell reached out to famed neurosurgeon and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who referred the case to Liberty professor Anthony Nobles. They then brought in spinal surgeon Dr. Dilan Ellegala from Arizona. Freeze was transported from Lynchburg, Virginia, to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville for the surgery.
"Right away, after they all consulted, they told me I had a lot more going on than just a disk when they saw how much pain I was in. I was crippled, I couldn't stand up," Freeze told ESPN. "I'm blessed that I had so many brilliant medical minds coming together to help. I didn't even know at the time how much trouble I was in."
Freeze has been away from the team since Sunday when the spasms first began. The school announced earlier this week that Freeze was undergoing medical treatment to relieve the issue.
Freeze is set to make his return to the sideline for the first time since his resignation from Ole Miss just a few weeks before the start of the 2017 season. The resignation stemmed from what was after going 39-25 over his five seasons with the Rebels, and Matt Luke was named interim coach heading into the 2017 campaign. Luke was eventually tabbed to take over on a full-time basis.
Liberty went 6-6 last season as a provisional FBS member, and Freeze has a chance to lead the team to its first bowl game now as a full FBS member in 2019. The Flames open the 2019 season on Saturday, Aug. 31 with a home game against Dino Babers and Syracuse.