By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is getting a raise, and so are his assistants.
The school announced Tuesday afternoon that Freeze’s base salary will increase to $3 million annually, and the pool of money from which Freeze pays assistant coaches and staff will see an increase of 12 percent with what the school calls $400,000 of new money.
Moving forward Freeze’s salary will automatically increase by $150,000, and his contract will be extended a year to the four-year maximum allowed by state law.
The restructured contract represents a shift in financial strategy by giving Freeze more guaranteed money. It includes incentives for SEC championships, postseason accomplishments and academic performance.
That’s a significant change from the first contracts which paid Freeze bonus money for conference wins.
This season, Freeze received an additional $100,000 for each SEC victory after the first.
Ole Miss finished the regular season 7-5 overall, 3-5 in conference play, ending on a two-game losing streak.
The Rebels were 6-18 overall, 1-15 in the SEC in the two seasons prior to Freeze’s arrival.
“We want Hugh Freeze to be our football coach for a long time, and our commitment is to invest in the present and future success,” Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said in the news release.
Bjork said Freeze and his staff have made Ole Miss “one of college football’s top rising programs.”
Ole Miss will face Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30.
Fast start, then stumbled
Impressive in wins at Vanderbilt and Texas, the Rebels got off to a 3-0 start before a 4-5 finish amid a rash of injuries that subtracted two key players – defensive end C.J. Johnson and tight end Evan Engram – for the remainder of the season.
A number of other players missed significant playing time. Injuries aside, the Rebels defeated then-No. 6 LSU 27-24 in Oxford on Oct. 19.
Freeze says he hasn’t gotten “caught up” in contract talk. He was on the road recruiting Tuesday evening and said he wasn’t completely aware of the details.
“Neither year did I go to Ross and ask for anything. I just want to take care of my coaches, and I’m thrilled with Dr. (Dan) Jones and Ross and their belief in us,” he said. “That’s why we’re out here hoofing it trying to find more players. I’m just very blessed and thankful for the opportunity they gave me.”