Liberty University Football Coach Hugh Freeze Opens Season Directing Team From Hospital Bed

Hugh Freeze has been a head coach in college football's premiere conference, the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Making his debut as the head coach at the much smaller Liberty University on Saturday, he didn't roam the sidelines as his Flames took on the Syracuse Orangemen.

Instead, Freeze presided over the game from the press box — atop a hospital bed inside the coaches box.

Freeze, who previously was the head coach at the University of Mississippi, made his Liberty debut on Saturday by first arriving to the home stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia, by wheelchair, and then getting taken to a hospital bed situated for him in the coaches box, according to Sports Illustrated.

Saturday's game against Syracuse, an ACC team that was ranked No. 22 going into the game, might be the biggest home game in Flames history. Just last year, Liberty made the jump from a Football Championship Series (FCS) team to become a Football Bowl Series (FBS) team) — similar to the antiquated Division I-A and I-AA. FCS teams aim to make a larger playoff field while FBS teams play in the upper-level bowl system with a four-team championship playoff.

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The biggest win in school history was perhaps a victory over Baylor University a few years ago when Liberty was still an FCS team.

Freeze became Liberty's head coach last offseason, and he looked to guide the Flames from the sidelines until a herniated disk sidelined the coach himself.

Freeze missed about two weeks of practice. After missing his first practice, he had surgery six days later, and that's when a staph infection was discovered.

The Liberty coach has already been in the coaches' box as the bed was set up to watch practices, with several camera angles set up so he could observe most of the practice from the comforts of a skybox and a mattress.

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Video and audio equipment were also set up so he could communicate with both his players and coaches during August preparation.

The Lynchburg IT department had already set up similar equipment in a nearby hotel as Freeze reportedly was unable to maneuver the steps of his family's townhouse in their new home.

Saturday turned out to be a tough night for the Liberty football program as it did not score in a 24-0 loss to Syracuse, one of the better teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is home to defending national champion Clemson University.

Liberty will travel next week to play the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the school plans to fly Freeze and any necessary medical equipment for Freeze. The Flames will play three-consecutive home games after that to round out play in September before hitting the road again in October.

Hugh Freeze
Head Coach Hugh Freeze of the Mississippi Rebels watches his team warm up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi. The Bulldogs defeated the Rebels 55-20. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Liberty University Football Coach Hugh Freeze Opens Season Directing Team From Hospital Bed | Sports