USA Today released its annual coaching salaries database for the 2019 season. Georgia coach Kirby Smart ranked fifth in the country in terms of his salary this year as he’s set to make $6.87 million.
And according to USA Today’s Dan Wolken, that rate is one of the worst in the country, as Wolken rated Smart’s contract as the fifth-worst in the country, ahead of the likes of Jeff Brohm of Purdue, Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern and Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, who all make at least $5 million.
As for the reasoning behind Wolken’s ranking, he explains that if Smart were to be available for every school on an open market, Smart would not command the kind of salary he currently does at Georgia.
“The largesse of Smart’s deal is tied almost exclusively to the market rate established by his peers, not the demand for him specifically,” Wolken wrote. “In other words, if Georgia had told Smart that it would pay him $5 million a year with a $10 million buyout — take it or leave it — would there be another college program or NFL team willing to pay him more or offer him a better situation? Probably not.”
Smart’s deal jumped up dramatically following Georgia’s 2017 run, in which the Bulldogs won the SEC and played in the national championship game. The corresponding deal he got is very similar to that of Gus Malzahn, who boasts similar credentials. Malzahn is sixth on USA Today’s list, as he’s set to earn $6.82 million this year.
Among SEC coaches, Smart ranks third in salary this year, behind Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, who ranked second and fourth nationally.
Related: ESPN has one big question for Georgia football as Bulldogs enter tough November stretch
Georgia is off this week, as the No. 10 Bulldogs have a chance to rest up before a huge match-up in Jacksonville, Fla., as they take on the No. 7 Florida Gators.
This game will have a huge impact on Georgia’s season. In addition to deciding the likely SEC East winner, this game will also have College Football Playoff implications for both schools, as they each have a claim as the best one-loss team in the country.
ESPN’s Heather Dinich also broke down Georgia’s College Football Playoff chances, which sit at 10 percent per ESPN’s Stats & Info department.
“The Bulldogs’ season will be defined over the next three games: No. 7 Florida, Missouri and No. 9 Auburn,” Dinich wrote. “ESPN’s FPI still gives the Bulldogs the best chance to win the East.”
One of the things to watch for heading into the Florida matchup will be over the Georgia offense looks. The Bulldogs have struggled to create explosive plays and thus points. The Bulldogs scored only 17 points against South Carolina and 21 against Kentucky, though the weather did play a factor against the Wildcats.
ESPN’s Greg McElroy singled out that side off the ball is a reason to be concerned as the Bulldogs enter their toughest part of the season.
“I’m very concerned about their inability to create big plays offensively,” McElroy said. “I love their running game, I love their offensive line, but I want to see them get more creative when they go down the stretch and really play against some quality defenses.”
Georgia is tied for 72nd in the country of pass plays for 15-plus yards, lower than the likes of Tennessee and Stanford.
Georgia has won the last two games against Florida, winning by a combined score of 78-24. Kickoff for the annual rivalry game is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
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