OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's biggest boosters wanted a proven coach and got their man. Now they'll have to pay the toll for landing Houston Nutt.
Ole Miss had been among the most thrifty SEC schools before hiring Nutt on Monday. But the new coach's average salary is twice that of his predecessor and Athletic Director Pete Boone says it will be up to the fans to help pay for the hire they have so enthusiastically embraced.
``It's really going to have to come from our donor base ... and we've been very enthusiastic about comments we've heard from them, and our ticket sales,'' Boone said.
Nutt jumped into the upper echelon of coaching salaries when Boone signed him to a four-year, $7.4 million contract. His average salary of $1.85 million is twice as much as what his predecessor Ed Orgeron was paid and $500,000 more than he made at Arkansas.
The university will pay a base salary of $200,000 and the rest will be provided by outside sources.
Nutt has three one-year options worth a total of $6.6 million built into the contract and can win incentives up to $380,000. The school will pay him $240,000 for winning a national championship, $90,000 for a Southeastern Conference title and $25,000 apiece for SEC and national coach of the year.
There also are smaller awards for appearances in championship games, a Bowl Championship Series game or a lesser postseason game.
He also gets two automobiles, season tickets for football and basketball, use of a private stadium box, country club membership and moving expenses.
``Salaries, that's the one thing that I used to get embarrassed about, but I don't anymore. The only reason why I got embarrassed was because of what my mom and dad made,'' Nutt said.
Nutt said his parents were teachers who never made more than $30,000 a year. It's likely just one of the cars the school provides him will be worth more than that. While the pay package might seem high, Nutt said increasing stress on football coaches has led to the escalating salaries.
``It's a big-time pressure job nowadays,'' he said. ``You look around the world, that's what everybody's getting paid. It's hard, but along with that comes scrutiny. And it's scrutiny every day.''
Nutt will be among the nation's highest paid coaches, but still makes only half what Alabama's Nick Saban will earn over the life of his eight-year contract. Saban's $4 million average salary is the most in college football.
Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, Florida's Urban Meyer, Georgia's Mark Richt, Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier all average about $2 million or more per season.
When he started the search to replace Orgeron, Boone said he hoped to find a coach who would take a low base salary and a large package of incentives. But when Nutt became available after resigning Monday, Boone knew he would need a large financial package to snatch him off the market.
It may seem like a gamble, but if Nutt can put a winner on the field, he'll also be putting fans in the stands and luxury boxes.
``He's just proven,'' Boone said. ``He has a low probability of failure or a high probability of success. How often can you get a coach in the SEC that's had his kind of success?''

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