Bjork, Freeze and the price of poker

Ross Bjork won the day Monday, and he won it in so many ways.

Retaining Hugh Freeze saves the momentum Freeze has built in the program. That’s the biggest thing for a program that’s has had trouble keeping coaches. Sometimes that damage has been self-inflicted, sometimes not.

Because of the money that is being discussed, Ole Miss would have been more equipped to handle a sudden change now than at any time in its history.

We’ve referred to this before as the price of poker. When the stakes were high Bjork didn’t fold. He stayed in the game.

Dynamics are different these days. Bjork has advantages (insert budget) that his predecessors did not. Closing a multi-million dollar deal still requires a great deal of savvy. A million here, a million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

The numbers that have been attached in various reports to the Freeze agreement mean Ole Miss, using those same numbers, could have gone out and hired a proven head coach had there been a need.

When this all got started last week I was hearing Ole Miss would counter with $4 million. Recently a source said it would be $4.5.

The details, probably, will come out with the school’s official announcement of Freeze as head coach.

If the deal is only $4 million it would put him as the 12th-highest paid coach between TCU’s Gary Patterson and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn.

This is based on USA Today’s research of 2014 college football coach salaries.

The rankings will shuffle as other coaches have contracts restructured.

Some names who were in the top 50 in salary this year but made less than $4 million – some of them much less – include Mike Gundy, Rich Rodriguez, Dabo Swinney, Dana Holgorsen, Bobby Petrino, Todd Graham, Mark Stoops, Kyle Whittingham.

I’m not saying all of those guys would be interested in coaching at Ole Miss, but if money is a motivator, and it often is, seems like Ole Miss could get in the conversation with someone who might fit its needs.

Had the Freeze talks gone badly Ole Miss would have lost momentum. It would have felt the loss, but it could have been able to recover in the way it did when Houston Nutt was hired … with an experienced coach coming in to guide a lot of talent that’s already in the program.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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