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Rebels’ coaches in line for another raise

Ole Miss’ assistant football coaches are in for another raise, though Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said he’s still working through exactly how much more money they’ll receive.

When head coach Hugh Freeze’s base salary went from just north of $3 million annually to $4.3 million as part of his contract extension following last season, the school also increased the salary pool for the Rebels’ assistants. But the staff’s total pay is still among the lowest in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss’ nine assistants combined to make $3,091,000 this season with defensive coordinator Dave Wommack leading the way at $725,800 annually, according to the database of coaching salaries released by USA Today on Wednesday. The total figure ranks next to last among the league’s 13 public universities. Vanderbilt, a private school, isn’t required to release its contract information.

The assistants’ salary pool was the lowest in the conference a year ago, but the collective raise following a 9-3 season capped by an appearance in one of the inaugural New Year’s Six bowls moved Ole Miss past Kentucky. The pool is expected to be expanded again following another nine-win season and back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl berths with Ole Miss heading to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1

“We’ll do what’s necessary from an investment standpoint like we have done after the last three seasons both related to coach Freeze and the assistants,” Bjork said. “I feel really good about our investment in our head coach and also the assistants but also know with our assistant pool, we’ve been toward the bottom of the SEC. We need to step up, and we’re in the process of doing all of that.”

How much of a step up has yet to be determined, but the other teams in the Rebels’ conference make for an expensive sliding scale. The nation’s five highest-paid coaching staffs all resided in the SEC led by LSU, which paid its nine-man staff a collective $5,471,236.

Changes at the top
Auburn had the nation’s highest-paid assistant this season in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who made a cool $1.6 million in his one year on the Plains before leaving earlier this week to become South Carolina’s head coach. Muschamp is one of three new coaches in the league working on putting together a staff, joining Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Missouri’s Barry Odom.

“You’ve got three new coaching hires in the SEC, and you don’t know what those pools are going to look like,” Bjork said when asked where the bump in pay would put Ole Miss’ staff in relation to the rest of the league. “What we’ll do is we’ll invest, we’ll do more and really kind of see where that lands us. But to say today that we want to be fifth, sixth or fourth or whatever, that gets you to tomorrow. We just want to do what’s best for our program.”