The Rob Brown Show, 12-3PM on ESPN Upstate

The difference between forgiveness and trust.

Hugh Freeze deserves one. He doesn't automatically get the other.

The Rob Brown Show
November 20, 2020 - 4:06 pm

Those of you have that listened to me or know me in person know that I'm not a confrontational person. I despise it. I'm not good at it. And that's why the talk about Hugh Freeze circulating around the Upstate has been weird to me - because there are a lot of people who are taking it very, very personally. I have some thoughts on the reasons why, and I'll get to those in a bit.

But before I do, I want to do two things:

First off, I want to be VERY clear about this: I wish Hugh Freeze the best. I genuinely hope that whatever demons he fought that caused him to lose his dream job at Ole Miss are defeated. I hope he and his family are able to able put his transgressions behind them and end up in place of happiness - especially those who had their hearts broken by his actions.

Now, with that being said...

The second thing I want to start with is to walk you through a situation that happened to me a number of years ago, because I think it has some direct ties to what's happening regarding the Gamecocks' next hire.

In my mid-20's, I was dating a young woman I had met a couple of years previous. She was, I thought, the one. I don't need to go into all the details about her, just trust me - she was what I wanted. She moved to New Orleans to attend law school, and we decided to do the long distance thing. It worked well for about a year - and I trusted her with everything. One weekend, my old man called and told me he was taking my mom to NOLA to surprise her for her birthday with a big dinner with the whole extended family. The girlfriend's birthday was the same weekend so, I thought, two birds with one stone.

I got the girlfriend the gift she wanted, which I had to hunt down to find. I showed up to her apartment... only to find her in bed with another man. 

I was devastated. It hurt - it hurt because the trust that I had for her was shattered, and I'm not sure there's another human emotion quite as painful as that one.

After a number of weeks of ignoring her, she finally got a mutual friend to talk to me. She wasn't doing well. Her grades were suffering. Her anxiety was through the roof.

"It was a one time thing. She feels completely lost and hopeless and just wants to talk to you."

So I called her. And I told her I forgave her. I let it go. It hurt, but I understand how tough everything was on her and acknowledged that she made a mistake. So, I forgave her. I wished her the best.

She asked if we could get back together. 

No. Absolutely not.

Not because she wasn't a good person. She was. She was a great person who made a mistake.

I said no not because I didn't forgive her. I told her no because I couldn't trust her anymore, and I wouldn't invest any more of my time or my money or my life into someone I didn't trust.

That is why South Carolina shouldn't hire Hugh Freeze.

Freeze might have genuinely learned his lesson. He might have genuinely just made a few mistakes under pressure. And you might genuinely forgive him for that. 

But it does NOT mean that you have to invest in him. It doesn't mean you owe him anything. And it certainly doesn't mean that you should wager the future of your football team on him.

A second story to further illustrate the point: years ago I worked at a locally owned station in Florida. There was a guy working there that was a huge deal in the area - showing up at every event as their celebrity judge/MC, had his face on billboards. The guy was the definition of local celebrity. I was just a nobody who was training under him, hoping for my chance one day. And then, one day, I got it. He went to jail, for bilking a bunch of local businesspeople out of thousands and thousands of dollars. I took over his show and carried it for the few years he was away. I was killing it. Big ratings, the whole nine.

Then, one day, out of nowhere, he got released. And the bosses came to me, and told me he was getting his show back. They believed in second chances, and on top of that, he had found religion while serving his time. He was better. He was quoting scripture and speaking at churches now. 

I accepted my fate, and I stepped down. I went back to mornings, while he took his throne in the afternoons. And he was there for a while - his show became all about footballs and bibles.

And then, one day, he left. He decided to work with another local station - he became direct competition, within the same market. So, again, I took his spot. And I killed him in the ratings. Everything was going great, and this time, after stabbing the owners in the back and betraying their trust again, there was no coming back.

Until he did. He showed up one day because he had betrayed the owners of the other station and they went off the air. And my owners gave him the job back, again. Because they believed in second-second chances. And, hey, how could a man of religion do what he allegedly did?

You can probably already see where this is going: he did it again. Except this time, not only did he betray the station, but he actually bilked churches out of money as well. Back to prison he went. And, the station asked me again to save them, to take over their spot.

I said no. My trust had been broken by them as well. 

I don't tell you that story because of a personal grudge. I've forgiven them and moved on, too. And I had to go through all of that to get where I am now.

I tell you that story to point out that someone claiming to have found religion doesn't mean they're immediately redeemed. Again, I'm not saying that Hugh Freeze is still a guy who makes those types of mistakes. I'm saying that falling on bible verses doesn't instantly make someone a good, trustworthy person. Humans have been utilizing religion to grift for as long as religion has exited, placing a stain on the good people who worship in the process. And it's a damn shame.

What I'm saying is this: Hugh Freeze may or may not have changed. That's not my place to decide, and I don't know the man to even speculate.

But I DO know that trust is earned with great difficulty and broken with extreme ease. Do I trust Hugh Freeze?

Not enough that I'd wager the future of my football team on him. And this hire is exactly that for the Gamecocks. 

Hiring a guy who commits the mistakes that Freeze made will add years to the rebuilding process that sits ahead of you.

You might believe Hugh Freeze has changed. 

But would you bet your entire program on it?

I wouldn't.

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