Why Auburn's Hugh Freeze is 'jealous' of a recent Nick Saban hire

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football has reportedly hired Robert Bala as its next inside linebackers coach, and new Auburn football coach Hugh Freeze knows him well.

Freeze hired Bala at Liberty as a defensive analyst after Bala had served as a coach at Southern Utah for four seasons.

"I'm jealous that Nick (Saban) got him," Freeze said on McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning on WJOX on Monday. “I typically don’t go outside of my tree too much but I had him highly recommended to me at Liberty,” Freeze said of hiring Bala in 2022. “He was at Southern Utah. He was wanting to break into the FBS level, and I interviewed him, and was absolutely blown away by his knowledge, his demeanor for teaching. I mean, he’s a rising star. The guy was incredibly valuable, a great evaluator and he’s a great human being."

Not only is Freeze jealous, he actually had an assist in the hire. Freeze said Saban called him asking about Bala.

“Obviously Nick and I are friends, and I know it’s hard for a lot of people to believe," Freeze said. "When Nick called me, I just said, ‘I think he’s really, really good and you ought to interview him.’ Evidently he did. I haven’t talked to Nick since he interviewed him. But evidently he did well.”

Bala fills the role left vacant by Austin Armstrong, who reportedly left to be Florida's defensive coordinator. Armstrong had been Alabama's inside linebackers coach for about a month.

Bala was set to be Liberty's linebackers coach this season before his departure for Alabama.

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