Confirming what has been out there for a while now, Ole Miss announced Friday it is making significant investments into its football program.
At the top of the list is head coach Hugh Freeze. After flirting with Florida, Freeze signed his third contract extension in three years, keeping him under contract for the state limit of four years, and boosting his base salary from $3.15 million to $4.3 million. The new raise will tie Freeze with Penn State's James Franklin for eighth nationally according to the USA Today coaching salary database, and trailing only Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin and Les Miles within the SEC. Freeze's salary has tripled in three calendar years, up from the $1.5 million he earned in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and $3.15 million in 2014, and it's increased more than 20 times from the reported $210,000 he received at Arkansas State in 2011.
“Coach Freeze and his family are a perfect fit for Ole Miss and our football program, and we are excited he will continue to be our head football coach for a long time,” AD Ross Bjork said in a statement. “In three short years, his value-added leadership style has brought newfound energy to our entire university, because he cares about the young men in our program beyond the football field. He also gives back to the greater Ole Miss community in so many ways, and he is a teacher of life lessons each and every day.”
Freeze will get a bump to $5 million if he leads Ole Miss to the SEC Championship game - which would be the Rebels' first in the 22-year history of the game - and is guaranteed an annual bump of $100,000 or 50 percent of his annual bonuses, whichever is greater.
The Rebels also announced a 25 percent increase for Freeze's assistants. Ole Miss ranked 34th nationally - and, more importantly, 13th within the SEC - in 2014 according to USA Today at $2.596 million. A 25 percent raise places the staff at $3.245 million, surpassing Florida (again, pre-McElwain hiring), Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Mississippi State within the conference.
Ole Miss has also announced a recent $11.25 million investment into the Manning Center, planning improvements to their locker rooms, weight room, players lounge and meeting rooms, among other things.
Freeze is 24-14 in his three seasons in Oxford, and will lead the ninth-ranked Rebels against No. 6 TCU in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve.