Goodman: With a splash, Hugh Freeze sends a message to the SEC

The message sent by Hugh Freeze was clear. He’s coming for the dynasty.
The goal is to officially end the one in Tuscaloosa. The hope is to maybe start one at Auburn.
Fall camp begins on Thursday for the Tigers and for the Crimson Tide. College football is back, baby, and with it comes a glorious sunrise on The Plains. For the first time in years, Auburn will go into the preseason with more buzz around its program than Alabama.
On Saturday, Freeze received a poolside commitment from five-star receiver Perry Thompson. It was the stunning climax of Auburn’s first Big Cat Weekend under its new coach. Thompson is from Foley, and he was previously committed to Alabama. The Crimson Tide thought it was getting the next great receiver from Lower Alabama. Nope. Freeze flipped a player who Alabama fans were already calling the Crimson Tide’s next Julio Jones.
It was all by design and served as a reminder to anyone who might have forgotten an important lesson about Freeze. Auburn’s new coach is calculated, shrewd and, most importantly, a talented recruiter with the ability to build an SEC powerhouse.
And it all came with a touch of theater.
GOODMAN: Finding refuge on a soccer field in Birmingham
Freeze had been maintaining a low profile until this past week. With SEC Media Days out of the way, Freeze began making his moves … and they were brilliant. First, Auburn’s coach landed an enormous commitment from five-star linebacker Demarcus Riddick of Chilton County. Riddick chose Auburn over Alabama and Georgia. With the lodestone defender of his 2024 recruiting class in place, Freeze was set to make the largest splash possible during one of Auburn’s most important recruiting weekends of the year.
The splash came figuratively and literally, too, because after Thompson committed to Auburn and Freeze, the players attending Big Cat Weekend picked Freeze up like he had just won a national championship and then launched Auburn’s coach into the pool. It was fun. It was entertaining. It was Freeze announcing his return to the SEC.
Freeze came to Auburn with some baggage, but he’s already delivering major victories for the Tigers before the preseason even begins. Season tickets sold out earlier this summer and single-game tickets are already gone for home games against Samford, Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama. Get your tickets fast for anything that remains. Auburn football has a pulse again. The blood is flowing.
The mighty roar of Jordan-Hare Stadium will be deafening for the home opener against UMass on Sept.2.
The dark days seem so long ago now. This time last year, Auburn football entered fall camp at war with itself. It was ugly. It was embarrassing. My fingertips felt dirty just writing about it. Then came Halloween. Trick or treat, Bryan Harsin. After months of ignominy, after having to watch Bo Nix dismantle the Pac-12, after witnessing a corpse walk the sidelines on Pat Dye Field, finally, beautifully, Auburn fired one of the worst football coaches in the history of the SEC.
They asked a beloved Auburn Man to restore dignity on The Plains. It took Cadillac Williams 60 minutes.
That was the beginning of Auburn’s return and don’t anyone ever forget it. It was Cadillac who saved Auburn from the fall. It’s Freeze and Williams together who are restoring balance to The Force.
“Auburn football is A-OK,” Williams said on social media after the commitment from Thompson.
It just takes one.
In the SEC, when it comes to recruiting, it just takes one big splash to begin a title wave. Now comes everything after, and it is how Freeze navigates the ripples of his disruption that will determine Auburn’s future.
With Auburn aligned, the SEC should probably brace for a flood.
What can one recruiting splash do for a program? Auburn was picked to finish sixth in the SEC West this season, but any struggles will now be viewed as building blocks for what’s to come.
What can one commitment bring? Freeze knows his SEC history and so does every college football fan in Alabama.
While Nick Saban was busy chasing Georgia, Alabama’s coach was losing ground, and recruits, to Auburn. It’s a ruthless game, and no one plays it better than Saban. Freeze learned from the best.
Thompson, the receiver from Foley, announced the decision to spurn Alabama with Freeze casually standing by his side. What can one recruiting victory signal? How about a new fight between old friends.
It was Saban who started a flood in 2008 with a receiver from Foley. We all know what happened next, and now we’re all watching Auburn to see how one major splash sends shockwaves through the SEC.

Latest Player Notes

How a Wisconsin legend got his German protégé into Badgers pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Marlon Werthmann put his life on hold for the opportunity in front of him Friday at the McClain Center.Werthmann ...

Why former Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen didn't run the 40 at pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Braelon Allen’s sweat covered his shirt and dripped off his beard as he approached a group of reporters Friday.The ...

How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t waste any ...

Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.There’s a new conference ...

College Football Playoff: Conferences solve their differences (for now) and agree on general framework for 2026 and beyond

The FBS conferences and Notre Dame agreed on Friday to continue the College Football Playoff beyond the 2025 season, signing ...

Ball security, leadership key as Aztecs look to identify starting quarterback

San Diego State seemingly auditions a new starting quarterback on an annual basis.In the past 12 years, the Aztecs have opened ...

Results and more: A look at what happened at Penn State football’s Pro Day inside Holuba Hall

Most of those at Penn State’s Pro Day Friday were relatively quiet throughout the afternoon’s workouts, but there was one ...

Defense dominates first two weeks of Oregon State spring practice as Beavers ready for 2-week breather

CORVALLIS – Oregon State hit the break of spring practices Saturday, not exactly the midpoint but a good place to assess ...

Dillon Gabriel to have similar input, autonomy as Bo Nix had in Oregon’s offense

Published Mar. 16, 2024, 6:26 p.m.By James CrepeaEUGENE — Dillon Gabriel will have much of the same autonomy as Bo Nix did ...

Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap.Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd ...
See More Player Notes