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UM’s Kennedy Will Remain A Rebel For 2012-13

Andy Kennedy just met his new boss — Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork — last week.  There’s currently an open position at his alma mater with his name written all over it.

But the Rebels’ basketball coach is staying put.  Both Kennedy and UM chancellor Dan Jones said so yesterday.  Here’s the coach’s statement:

“Despite reports to the contrary, I have had no discussions with UAB regarding their head coaching position.  I’ve put many years of ‘sweat equity’ into Blazer Basketball, and Birmingham will always be a special place to me and my family, but I am right where I’m supposed to be.

The privilege of coaching at Ole Miss in the ultra-competitive SEC is something that I will never take for granted, and we will continue in our efforts to move this program forward.  There have been numerous milestones met over the last six seasons, and we have many more goals to reach.”

The takeaway?  Kennedy will be getting a contract extension that was already in the works when Bjork was hired.  We at believe he deserves that as he’s led a program with league-worst hoops facilities to five 20-win seasons in six years at Oxford.

However, he’s also never reached an NCAA Tournament and he’s about to start working for a hotshot, young AD that he knows little about.  And new athletic directors often like to hire their own guys.

If Kennedy fails at Ole Miss or if Bjork gets froggy and someday nukes him, the coach could come to regret not re-starting his coaching clock at another school — even a school like UAB that would pay him considerably less than Mississippi.  Remember, Rick Stansbury had a chance to move to Clemson just a couple of years before he “retired” at Mississippi State.  Think he’d take that one back at this point?

Also, with much of a young team back next year, expectations of an NCAA berth will be on the rise at Ole Miss.  But if Kennedy is eventually ousted from the school, it’s likely that his soon-to-be extended contract will at least put some nice parting cash in his wallet.

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SEC Coaching Carousel Updates

There are two SEC programs searching for a new head coach.  A third school might be looking for one if they can’t hold onto theirs.

We’ll start with South Carolina where native son Gregg Marshall is still expected to be high on the list.  Trouble is, there are plenty of people in Kansas who are saying it’ll take a lot of cash to lure Marshall away from Wichita State.  From columnists in Wichita to ESPN’s Andy Katz, it’s clear that someone is driving up Marshall’s price tag on the coach’s behalf.  Word is that the Shockers’ coach wants at least $2 million to takeover a Gamecock program that ends coaching careers with great regularity.

If Marshall can’t be had, don’t be surprised if AD Eric Hyman makes a run at Duke assistant Jeff Capel.  Hyman tried to hire him when he inked Darrin Horn.  Capel has washed out once at Oklahoma and the program was put on probation under his watch.  (Though like John Calipari, Capel was not accused of any wrongdoing.)

Meanwhile, president Mark Keenum of Mississippi State says AD Scott Stricklin is just getting started in his search for a Rick Stansbury replacement.  Promoting an assistant — that’s how MSU has landed its last two coaches — is not out of the question and outgoing point guard Dee Bost has already tweeted his support for ex-Stansbury aide Phil Cunningham.

Katz also tosses out the name of Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne — a man with ties to the Magnolia State — as a potential candidate in Starkville.

Whoever State hires will inherit a program in flux.  And MSU recruits are now mulling their options.

Finally, there may or may not be an opening at Ole Miss.  There’s been speculation from multiple sources all weekend (and today with the aforementioned Katz) that Andy Kennedy might be a target for his alma mater, UAB.

Kennedy is expected to meet with UM chancellor Dan Jones regarding his contract over the next “several weeks.”  The school is also looking for a replacement for AD Pete Boone, which further complicates Kennedy’s contract negotiations.

If UAB does make a run at Kennedy, he’ll likely have to take a pay cut to return to his old stomping grounds.  As we pointed out last week, previous Blazer coach Mike Davis made about half as much as Kennedy currently pulls down in Oxford.

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Plenty Of Cold Cash For UM’s Freeze If He Earns His Bonuses

Houston Nutt made $2.76 million last year in his final season at Ole Miss.  The man who replaced him can actually make more than that.  If he earns a heckuva lot of incentive bonuses.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Ole Miss officials have further outlined the salary structure for the new Revel football coach.  At Freeze’s introductory presser UM chancellor Dan Jones said the coach’s base salary would be $1.5 million with bonus opportunities that could bring that total in “excess” of $2.5 million.

Now UM spokesperson Kyle Campbell has revealed to The Clarion-Ledger’s Hugh Kellenberger that Freeze has “an opportunity to earn more than $1,400,000 in incentive payments.”  He also said the incentives “are based upon performance on the field and in the classroom.”

Do a bit of math — $1.5 million base salary plus > than $1.4 million in incentive bonuses — and you find that Freeze could make between $2.9 and $3 million next season for the Rebels.  Nice numbers.  But we suspect the majority of those bonuses will be awfully darn hard to hit. 

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UM Chancellor Says SEC Is Open To Anything

Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones believes the SEC will be looking for the correct fit if/when it starts talking to prospective 14th schools:

“If there’s schools interested in us talking and are unfettered with other conference contracts, we would certainly be open to talking. …

There needs to be a fit, both academically and athletically (like with Texas A&M).  They are a large school with very good academic programs and a very storied athletic history.  They fit from a cultural standpoint.”

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