Hugh Freeze stood before the crowd at the Little Rock Touchdown Club at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock reflecting on his football coaching career.
But the former Ole Miss and Arkansas State University coach also took time to bring up what brought his career to a halt in July 2017.
"July 21st of last year, I professionally hit rock bottom," Freeze said. "I paid a heck of a price for it. It's not been much fun."
Freeze, who coached at Ole Miss from 2012-2016, resigned after university officials found a "pattern of personal misconduct" that started with the school's investigation into a call to an escort service.
The Associated Press obtained Freeze's university cellphone records and showed a 1-minute call made on Jan. 19, 2016, to a Detroit-based number. An internet search showed the number linked to a site that offers various escort services.
"I didn't honor Jill," said Freeze of his wife, Jill, who he has been married to for 27 years. "I was wrong. If I didn't do anything wrong, then that doesn't happen.
"I've been spending the last year and a half wondering how do I get back the pure motives for what you do and why you do it?"
Freeze expressed remorse for his actions and said he's owned up to what led to his resignation.
"We all step over boundaries. Mine are public," Freeze said. "Some of it has truth and some of it has no truth to it. But it doesn't matter. I can't win that battle."
Co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke was named the Rebels' interim coach and became the permanent coach after the 2017 season.
At Ole Miss, Freeze was 39-25 overall and 19-21 in the SEC. He led the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State on Jan. 1, 2016.
Freeze was complimentary of his tenure at ASU, where he was offensive coordinator in 2010 and head coach in 2011. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2011 in Freeze's only season as head coach before he was hired at Ole Miss.
"I made some incredible relationships in Jonesboro," he said. "The two years I spent there were some of the best of my life."
While at ASU and Ole Miss, Freeze was able to win in his first year at the schools, which he credits to mental toughness.
"Mental toughness is the secret sauce in the game of football," Freeze said. "I feel that teaching mental toughness is how I turned programs around."
Freeze, 48, said that several schools were interested in hiring him as an assistant coach after the 2017 season, but he decided to go in another direction. He's hopeful for another opportunity to coach football.
"I'm in the third quarter, so I'm after halftime," Freeze said. "I'm determined to finish well. What that looks like, I have no idea. I hope it involves coaching young men."
Other highlights from Monday's Little Rock Touchdown Club meeting:
• Rex Nelson on Arkansas' 34-27 loss at Colorado State on Saturday: "Originally, it was supposed to be Michigan. Aren't you glad it wasn't Michigan?"
• Nelson on Arkansas State's 57-7 loss at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday: "For 119 games, ASU hasn't been shut out. See, I'm looking for silver linings. I'm trying here."
• David Bazzel on Arkansas fans after the Razorbacks' loss Saturday: "It's two games, gee whiz. If you want to evaluate somebody in year two or three, that's fine. That's just my perspective."
Sports on 09/11/2018