011022 Indianapolis: Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken embraves head coach Kirby Smart as they celebrate winning the College Football Playoff Championship game against Alabama on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

What Kirby Smart, Todd Monken contracts say about the direction of Georgia football

Money talks. And the recent news around offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Kirby Smart’s looming contract extension says that things are going very well for the Georgia football program.

Monken’s new deal will pay him $2 million annually, a $750,000 increase from his previous salary of $1.25 million. It is believed to make him the highest-paid assistant coach in the sport. The three assistants that made over $2 million last year were all hired as head coaches this past offseason. Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles is set to make $1.9 million, while LSU defensive coordinator Matt House slots in at $1.8 million.

Related: Georgia football offensive coordinator Todd Monken gets monster raise to $2 million

That Monken is so well compensated shouldn’t come as a surprise. Despite his tenure being marred by quarterback instability in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the offensive coordinator found a way to get the most out of his offense. After injuries sidelined JT Daniels this past season, Stetson Bennett went on to lead an offense that averaged 38.6 points per game.

Georgia ranked ninth in the country in scoring offense a season ago and probably could’ve climbed higher were it not so comfortably ahead in many of its games. It’s one of the more unique offenses in the sport to boot, as the team’s leading receiver last season was freshman tight end Brock Bowers. It’s an offense that is truly tailored to the talent, rather than the offensive coordinator’s core principles or plays.

Smart made a bold hire when he plucked Monken from the NFL ranks after the 2019 season. Things had not gone well for Georgia on the offensive side of the ball in 2019, but it had only been James Coley’s first season as the offensive coordinator. One could understand giving him a second year to show improvement. Monken had slogged through a miserable season with the Cleveland Browns after having spent the three previous seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The hiring of Monken is a big reason why Georgia won the National Championship last season, the school’s first since 1980. And that is why Smart is also set to receive a lengthy and large contract extension.

Consider that prior to the start of the 2021 season, Dan Mullen was making more than Smart. Mullen is no longer the Florida head coach while the Bulldogs validated the hiring of Smart. Georgia was winning 10 games a year when it moved on from Mark Richt after the 2015 season. Smart was brought to Georgia to win championships and now he’s gotten his first one.

Georgia is now very much committed to proving it will do everything it can to get its next one.

“It’s just going through the process, taking your time,” UGA athletic director Josh Brooks said. “This is an important contract for him and for us. It’s just all the little details. It’s just typical stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

Related: Georgia president hints at massive Kirby Smart raise, contract finalization pending

A number of coaches have received lengthy contract extensions this past year. Mel Tucker, Jimbo Fisher, James Franklin and Brian Kelly all signed 10-year deals this offseason and eight coaches are expected to make more than $9 million dollars next season.

Investment in the Georgia football program has not been a problem since Smart arrived, which couldn’t be said for the Richt era. Over $200 million have been spent on various facility upgrades since Smart arrived on campus. It’s only natural to see that money trickle down to the Georgia coaching staff.

Monken’s new deal tops what the school paid defensive coordinator Dan Lanning last season when he was paid $1.7 million to lead the standout Georgia defense. The new contract makes Monken the highest-paid assistant in the history of Georgia’s football program.

We’re still waiting on the final details when it comes to Smart, but you can bet he’ll be well-compensated for all of his efforts in elevating Georgia to a championship-caliber program.

As for what all this money says about the Georgia football program now and in the future, it indicates a strong belief in Smart’s vision for the program. The on-field product — on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball — reflects that.

The financial investments in Smart and Monken aren’t a reward for their past success. It would be bad business to just pay people only for what they had previously done.

The money being thrown around shows a strong belief in what Smart and Monken can continue to do for Georgia in the years to come. That the best years for Smart and Monken at Georgia are still to come

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