Liberty head football coach Hugh Freeze is bouncing back quickly from surgery to stop a staph infection that nearly threatened his life.
After undergoing surgery last Friday, the school reported that he was released from the University of Virginia hospital on Wednesday. And on Friday, Freeze returned to practice for the first time to a great ovation.
Liberty announced in a press release on Thursday that Freeze would not return to his office for several days, but the first-year Flames coach has still been keeping a close eye on the team. For one thing, he updated his team about his recovery on a video feed from his hospital bed two days after the operation.
Freeze has had a video feed of practice streaming in his hotel room at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, which overlooks campus, and has been calling in notes via walkie talkie.
“It gives me a feeling like I’m coaching, even though I’m not there,” Freeze said. “It really helps me with the staff. I’ve never stopped having staff meetings, other than the day that I had surgery and I was so out of it. Even the day I was in total spasms, we had a staff meeting at 9 o’clock. Now after practice, offensive guys will come up here, and I’ve already seen practice.”
Freeze only found out about the staph infection after he was experiencing severe back spasms, which forced him to miss training camp practices on Aug. 11. Liberty’s season opener is set for Aug. 31 against No. 22 Syracuse, and there's a chance Freeze could coach the game from the booth.
“It’s frustrating that I can’t be there,” Freeze said. “There’s purpose in everything, and it may be that God is growing some of these coaches without me being there, and he’s growing me in ways that I cannot grow if if I weren’t forced to sit in this recliner and stretch myself and think outside the box. How can I make up the time that I missed, and what’s really important?”
Liberty hired Freeze in December after he spent two years away from college football. He was was forced out at Ole Miss in 2017 after he was found calling an escort and committed several NCAA violations that led to a two-year bowl ban.
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