For Hugh Freeze and his coaching staff, those Florida rumors certainly paid off.
In early December, Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork confirmed that the two sides had reached an agreement on a new contract, although some of the details still needed ironed out. Those details were released Friday revealing that Freeze’s total pay, which was $3.15 million in 2014, will jump to $4.3 million in 2015.
At least as far as 2014 contracts are concerned, that would place Freeze seventh nationally, tied with Penn State’s James Franklin, and fourth among SEC coaches, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban ($7.16 million), Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($5 million) and LSU’s Les Miles ($4.37 million).
The release also stated that “Freeze’s contract has been extended by one year to the maximum four years allowed by the state of Mississippi.” That means the third-year coach is now signed through the 2018 season.
“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,” said Bjork 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.”
On top of that, Freeze has a bonus that would increase his pay to $5 million if the Rebels make it to the SEC championship game. Additionally, there are other bonuses available that pertain to on APR, playoff rankings, postseason participation and coaching honors.
Perhaps most importantly, and something that’s becoming more important to head coaches all across the country, the salary pool for the Ole Miss football staff will increase by at least 25 percent.
While none of those specific details were released, it’s a significant development for Freeze and the program he’s attempting to build in Oxford.
“I’m grateful to call Oxford my home, and I’m excited to continue our journey for championships at Ole Miss,” Freeze said. “From day one, I have admired and appreciated the leadership and support that Dr. Jones, Ross and our administration provide this program. Our staff has done a tremendous job, and I’m particularly excited about their salary increases.”
In three years at Ole Miss, Freeze has gone 24-14 overall and 11-13 in SEC play. His Rebels have finished fifth (2012), T-fifth (2013) and third (2014) in the SEC West during Freeze’s tenure.