<
>

Hugh Freeze agrees to extension

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has agreed to a contract extension with the Rebels.

Freeze and athletic director Ross Bjork both announced the agreement Tuesday morning on Twitter.

Sources told ESPN.com that the new multiyear extension will raise Freeze's salary to an average of $4.5 million per season, and it also includes raises for his assistants. Sources told ESPN's Joe Schad that the extension is for four years.

The 45-year-old Freeze had been making $3 million per season.

The agreement was first reported by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Reports surfaced Monday that Florida had contacted Freeze about its coaching vacancy, but Florida later issued a statement denying an official offer had been made "to anyone."

A source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that Florida never contacted Freeze or Ole Miss about the opening.

A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Freeze is 24-13 in three seasons as the coach at Ole Miss. He also worked at the school as an assistant from 2005 to '07.

Freeze has engineered a quick turnaround at Ole Miss, taking over after a 2-10 season in 2011 that ended with the dismissal of coach Houston Nutt. The Rebels finished 7-6 in 2012 and 8-5 in 2013 before briefly emerging into the national championship discussion earlier this season with seven straight victories.

Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 SEC) lost three straight conference games over a four-week stretch in October and November to fall from College Football Playoff consideration, but bounced back with an emotional 31-17 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.

The Rebels, who lead the nation in scoring defense (13.8 points per game), won nine games in the regular season for the first time since 2003 and were 3-2 against ranked teams. Ole Miss also beat two top-five teams in a season for the first time since 1969.

With the 62,058 in attendance for Saturday's win over the Bulldogs, Ole Miss had a school-record season attendance of 430,829, which surpasses last year's record by more than 15,000.

Freeze has a reputation as an outstanding recruiter and his 2013 class was regarded as one of the nation's best. Those players are now sophomores, and many of them - like defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Laquon Treadwell - have already turned into stars.

"The new number became $3 million last year," Bjork told the Daily Journal on Nov. 12. "We're at $3 million. So what's the new number [now]? Is it closer to 4? I don't know that 5 is the new norm yet. We're committed to playing and competing at the highest level."

Freeze was a high school coach for more than a decade in Memphis, Tennessee, before joining the Ole Miss coaching staff under Ed Orgeron in 2005. He led Arkansas State to a Sun Belt Conference championship in 2011 before taking the Ole Miss job.

Brett McMurphy and Joe Schad of ESPN, Edward Aschoff and Chris Low of ESPN.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.