Kirby Smart ranks fifth among SEC coaches in annual coaches salary database

Kirby Smart-SEC coaching-salaries
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during a press conference in the Butts-Mehre Building in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has built the top team in the country to this point in the season, as Georgia enters its game against No. 11 Kentucky as the No. 1 team in the country.

And for the most part, Smart is well-compensated for the job he has done. Per the newly released USA Today’s Head Coach Salaries Database, Smart ranks in the country in terms of annual salary, making $7,133,600 for the 2021 year.

But in comparison to some of Smart’s contemporaries, he’s actually a little further down the pecking order than his current record would suggest. While Smart ranks eighth in the country in terms of total pay, he is fifth among SEC coaches.

Nick Saban is first, with a total pay of $9,753,221. In second is current LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who makes $9,012,917. Orgeron also as a buyout of $17,150,000 as of Dec. 1. The Tigers are 3-3 on the season to this point and have a tough close to the schedule.

Those two coaches have won the two most recent national titles. Next among SEC coaches is Dan Mullen at $7,570,000. Mullen holds a 1-3 record against Smart but his team did win the SEC East last season while finishing 8-4.

Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher makes $7,500,000 placing him just above Smart. The Aggies nearly missed out on the College Football Playoff last season and are fresh off an upset win over Alabama. Fisher also has the highest buyout among all coaches at $95,575,000.

Three coaches separate Orgeron and Mullen in the rankings, as Stanford David Shaw comes in third, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is fourth and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley ranks fifth. Swinney would’ve ranked second but his contract was reduced by $1.25 million due to the pandemic, by far the most of any coach in the country.

Orgeron, Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin and Arkansas’ Sam Pittman were the only SEC coaches to give money back.

Of the four coaches ranked directly ahead of Smart — Swinney, Riley, Mullen and Fisher in descending order — Smart is 6-1 against those coaches since becoming the head coach at Georgia at the start of the 2016 season.

Should Smart’s team continue to look and play like the best team in the country, he will likely shoot up these rankings the next year. Of the seven coaches ranked ahead of him, four have won a national championship.

The next highest-paid SEC coach on this list is Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, who makes $5,263,000. Stoops ranks 15th in the country in total pay.

“I think when you look at what Coach Stoops has been able to do, it’s pretty remarkable,” Smart said. “First off, he’s a really good football coach. I’ve known him a long time. Recruited against him.

“We went head-to-head on a lot of recruits back when he was Florida State’s defensive coordinator and I was at Alabama. He is a tremendous coach. A tremendous builder of men.”

Georgia and Kentucky kick-off at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS on Saturday. Smart is 5-0 against Stoops as a head coach.

Top 10 highest-paid coaches in college football

  1. Nick Saban, Alabama: $9,753,221
  2. Ed Orgeron, LSU: $9,012,917
  3. David Shaw, Stanford: $8,924,683
  4. Dabo Swinney, Clemson: $8,370,775
  5. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma: $7,672,710
  6. Dan Mullen, Florida: $7,570,000
  7. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M: $7,500,000
  8. Kirby Smart, Georgia: $7,133,600
  9. Ryan Day, Ohio State: $6,614,693
  10. Gary Patterson, TCU: $6,103,543

Highest paid SEC coaches

  1. Nick Saban, Alabama(No. 1 nationally): $9,753,221
  2. Ed Orgeron, LSU(No. 2): $9,012,917
  3. Dan Mullen, Florida(No. 6): $7,570,000
  4. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M(No. 7): $7,500,000
  5. Kirby Smart, Georgia(No. 8): $7,133,600
  6. Mark Stoops, Kentucky(No. 15): $5,263,000
  7. Bryan Harsin, Auburn(No. 20): $5,000,000
  8. Mike Leach, Mississippi State(No. 21): $5,000,000
  9. Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss(No. 22): $4,841,937
  10. Josh Heupel, Tennessee(No. 35): $4,000,000
  11. Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri(No. 36): $4,000,000
  12. Sam Pittman, Arkansas(No. 54): $2,925,000
  13. Shane Beamer, South Carolina(No. 58): $2,750,000
  14. Clark Lea, Vanderbilt: No date provided

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