Hugh Freeze's speech: 'You must find yourself in a pit with a bulldog…'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday September 29, 2016

To hype his team up before taking on Georgia, Hugh Freeze told his team a Bible story about killing a lion.

Washington D.C. pastor and author Mark Batterson gave Freeze the inspiration for the speech. The lesson: Don’t be scared, and when you have the upper hand, finish the job. Ole Miss beat Georgia 45-14.

“The story of Benaiah that I’ve told you a little bit about is very interesting to me,” Freeze told the Rebels. “It’s a prowling lion looking for its prey, and its prey is Benaiah. You know how this story usually ends. Man runs, lion chases, lion has a manwich for a meal. But this one was a little different. I don’t know if it was the look in Benaiah’s eye when he looked at the lion or whether it was the spear in his hand. I don’t know which one it was, but something made the lion run.

“Then Benaiah had the audacity and courage to chase the lion. He chases the lion, the lion goes down into a 500-foot pit. You can see that dark pit, and I can see Benaiah peering over the edge and he sees those yellow eyes of that lion. That’s when you and I say, ‘We won the day, baby. Let’s go.’ He dove in the pit, begins a fight.

“Silence comes. Who won the fight? He climbs out of the pit. Scarred? Yes. Are we scarred a little? Yes. Got a few scabs? Yes. He came out victorious, and I just want to tell you this: In every journey, there comes a moment when you have to quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. You must find yourself in a pit with a bulldog on a snowy, sunny day and make a decision that will change your destiny. You can run away from it if you want, but you’ll be running the rest of your life.

“If I know you like I think I know you, you’re ready to chase a bulldog today. I don’t care if he goes into a pit or wherever he goes. We’re going to chase him for 60 minutes, and then we’re going to celebrate like crazy in here after it’s over. You got that? So it’s time. The matter’s in whose hands? (Our hands) Then rise up. Let’s go.”

Watch the latest episode of Ole Miss’ behind-the-scenes show “The Season” here.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to