Talking season: Auburn coaches update fans at Lake Martin AMBUSH event

Football's Hugh Freeze and men's basketball's Bruce Pearl provided outlooks for their upcoming seasons

by Jeff Shearer
Austin Perryman / Auburn Athletics

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. – As preseason camp draws nearer, talking season fills the void in SEC country.

More than 300 Auburn alumni and fans gathered Tuesday at Willow Point Golf & Country Club to hear from Auburn’s Hugh Freeze, Bruce Pearl and John Cohen at the second stop on the Auburn Alumni Association’s AMBUSH tour, raising scholarship funds for incoming Auburn University students.

“In year two our roster’s better,” Freeze said. “I love the culture I see being developed among our players and staff. We have to be a little patient. I do think to build it the right way that will last is the way we’re doing it.

“We’re recruiting at a high level. I’m excited about what I saw in spring ball, excited about the chemistry of the staff, excited about DJ Durkin, Charles Kelly, Derrick Nix and Tanner Burns with the special teams.

“I feel really comfortable at Auburn, and we fit there. My family fits there. Excited about year two. I have no clue what that means in the win-loss column. The reasonable expectation is for you to see a competitive football team and we plan to deliver on that.”

While Freeze prepares for his second season, Pearl, in his 11th season on the Plains, becomes the dean of Southeastern Conference men’s basketball coaches with longevity at the same school.  

“We’re going to be a little bigger,” Pearl said. “I think we’re going to be a lot older and I think we’re going to be really good defensively. That’s got to be something that’s going to carry the ball for us. We’ve got to be really hard to score on.

“If we can defend physically without fouling, we could be a real problem defensively with an attitude about physicality, toughness and a little bit of a swagger.

“I think I’ve got some guys who will play tough and physically without fouling, and we can be a problem.”

Approaching his second fall sports season as Auburn’s athletics director, Cohen and his counterparts welcomed Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC on Monday, giving the league 16 teams.

“I’ve lived in seven SEC cities,” said Cohen, who worked for four other SEC schools before coming to Auburn. “I’m not sure the world understands how special Auburn really is.

“We have outstanding head coaches and it’s a privilege to work with those folks. You cannot compete for championships unless you have a high level of coaches, and we certainly do at Auburn.”

AMBUSH will conclude July 17 with a Texas two-step, a Lone Star State doubleheader featuring an afternoon event in Houston and an evening session in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer