On Friday, Georgia released the salary information of Kirby Smart’s assistants. A number of them received healthy raises, as defensive coordinator Mel Tucker now will make $1.5 million a year. One could argue that these raises are well deserved, though. After all, Georgia did go from an eight-win team to one that was three plays from winning the national championship.
And Georgia isn’t the only school shelling out cash for its assistant coaches. Ohio State has four assistant coaches making at least $800,000. Dave Aranda became the first $2 million assistant earlier in the offseason, as LSU is paying him $2.5 million for the next four years to run its defense.
But to get a real scope of just how much assistant coaching salaries have grown in recent seasons, check out this statistic unearthed by USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz. Next year, Georgia will pay four assistant coaches, Tucker, Jim Chaney, James Coley and Sam Pittman, at least $825,000. In 2013, just five years ago, there were only five assistant coaches in the country making at least $825,000.
Four Georgia football assistant coaches will be making at least $825,000 for the 2018 season. In 2013, there were five assistants in the entire FBS making at least $825,000. https://t.co/jt5VTNDWCA
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) February 17, 2018
Given that college football programs are big-time moneymakers and that the schools can’t pay the players, that money has to go somewhere. And while head coaching salaries also have taken off — look at Texas A&M giving Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract — a lot more questions are being asked about why assistants are being given such large contracts.
For instance, Aranda will make more next year as a defensive coordinator than Josh Heupel will as UCF’s coach, as the former Missouri offensive coordinator will make $1.7 million this season.
And the rising assistant salaries continue to show just how wide the gap is between the haves and the have-nots in college football. As The Associated Press’ Ralph Russo pointed out, the highest-paid assistant at Boise State, one of the best college football programs of the 21st century regardless of conference, would be the lowest-paid assistant at Ohio State.
And to tie everything back together, Georgia likely isn’t done handing out new and expansive contracts, as one has not been announced yet for Smart. Last year, Smart was being paid just more than $3.75 million, making him the ninth highest-paid coach in the conference. Since then, four SEC coaches who made more than Smart have either been fired or agreed to mutually part ways. Gus Malzahn, whom Smart bested in the SEC Championship Game, signed a new deal paying him $7 million annually.
So, it’s safe to say that Smart, like his assistants, will be in line for a very big, and most likely deserved, raise.