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 JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone thinks he's finally found his man. He had to pay dearly to land Houston Nutt, though.
Nutt will make $1.7 million to start and $2 million in the fourth year of his contract, plus incentives. Former coach Ed Orgeron made just $900,000, among the lowest salaries in the Southeastern Conference.
``The price of poker's gone up,'' Boone said.
Nutt will be introduced as Ole Miss' coach at a news conference Wednesday in Oxford. He resigned from Arkansas on Monday after 10 years and accepted an offer from Boone less than four hours later.
He will get an immediate raise of about $500,000 for coming to Ole Miss and could make as much as $2.3 million if he picks up each of three one-year options after his four-year contract ends.
Boone said a recent salary survey showed Southeastern Conference coaches average about $2 million per year and he felt he had to be competitive to land Nutt, the 2006 SEC coach of the year.
Officials at Arkansas said they offered Nutt a one-year extension and an unspecified raise, but he turned them down to move to Oxford.
``In looking at these (salaries), they're high but they're reasonable numbers for the market as is,'' Boone said.
Alabama's Nick Saban is the highest-paid college coach in the nation with an average of $4 million a year over the life of his eight-year contract.
Boone would have preferred to pay a lower base salary and load the new coach's contract with incentives. But he said the initial outlay was worth it to bring in a proven coach, one of football's rarest commodities.
``I think it's important to have a person like Houston Nutt, a proven success,'' Boone said. ``This time we have to get it right, and so when (his resignation) came about we just had to move fast.
``He's going to fit in not only at Oxford, but Ole Miss, as well as anybody.''
Mississippi was without a coach for less than three days. Orgeron was fired Saturday after three losing seasons and a 10-25 record.
Boone wiped away worry that he fired Orgeron a year too early with the hire.
Nutt led Arkansas to an 8-4 record and a likely Cotton Bowl berth before resigning. The 50-year-old is 111-70 in 15 years as a head coach at Arkansas, Boise State and Murray State, and he's been a winner in the SEC.
The Little Rock, Ark., native revived the Arkansas program, going 75-48 since he replaced Danny Ford in 1997. Nutt was 42-38 in conference with one of his biggest wins coming last week when the Razorbacks beat then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 in triple overtime.
``It's human nature not to like change, but I think in this case, change is going to be a good thing,'' fullback Jason Cook said. ``Especially as a player, you get excited when a guy gets hired like Coach Nutt. He's more than proven in the SEC and proven as a coach that he can take talent and work with it. We're very excited.''
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