Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Salaries for college football head coaches have skyrocketed over the last decade, and with an increased paycheck comes more pressure to win big early, often and consistently.
Just this past offseason, we saw Tennessee fire Derek Dooley after just three years on Rocky Top, and Auburn dismissed Gene Chizik after a four-year stint that included a BCS National Championship in year two.
Win big. Win now. Win consistently.
But it's more than just winning. A coach's job is to have a positive impact on the bottom line. After all, college football is big business these days.
So, which SEC head coaches are earning their paychecks? Quite a few.
*All salaries come from the 2012 USA Today Coaches' Salary Database unless otherwise noted.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
$5,476,738; 63-13 Record at Alabama
This one is a slam dunk.
Sure, Saban is college football's highest-paid head coach; and he is held to a different standard than most head coaches. No problem, though. He meets and exceeds that standard with relative ease thanks to his time-tested process.
Three BCS National Championships in four years, a modern-day college football dynasty and a pipeline to the NFL has made Saban worth every penny...and probably more. Don't forget, before Saban got there (and in the first year of his regime), Alabama was a frustrated program that hovered around .500 for the majority of the mid-2000s.
On the bottom line, he has been a success too.
According to Forbes, Alabama's football program pulled in a nice little profit of $45 million in 2012 and is the sixth-most valuable program in the country.
Saban is successful on the field and on the bottom line.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt
$3.2 Million; 118-40 Record at Georgia
Richt seems to be one season away from the hot seat no matter what he does, due in large part old habits dying hard more than anything else.
Now in his 13th year between the hedges, Richt successfully transformed Georgia from a perpetual underachiever to a seemingly annual contender. He has notched two SEC titles during his tenure in Athens (2002 and 05), won the SEC East five times (2002, 03, 05, 11, 12) and came within five yards of playing for the BCS National Championship last season.
In a day and age where 10 years is a very long time at any given job, Richt is still going strong, leading the program to national relevance and a healthy bottom line.
According to Forbes, Georgia was the third-most profitable football program in the country in 2012 at $52 million, and it is the fifth-most valuable program in the country.
Georgia rewarded Richt with a contract extension in February that will pay him $3.2 million through 2017, according to the Associated Press (via Sports Illustrated). For that, Bulldog fans should be thankful.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin
$3.1 Million; 11-2 Record at Texas A&M
To say that Sumlin's first season at college station was a success would be an understatement. It was phenomenal. A new system, two new schemes and new quarterback and a new conference presented quite a few obstacles, but Sumlin adapted his offense to the skills possessed by quarterback Johnny Manziel, and the rest is college football history.
A win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a Heisman Trophy in year one and likely a preseason Top Five ranking in year two isn't a bad start to Sumlin's tenure at A&M. As a result, he was rewarded with contract extension that will pay him $3.1 million through 2017, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Sumlin was the right hire at the right time. He has helped raise the profile of Texas A&M, successfully navigated the transition to the SEC and will likely lead the athletic department to a healthier bottom line in the future.
According to ESPN.com, Texas A&M has had issues controlling its expenses over the last few years. But thanks to the jump the SEC and the success enjoyed on the football field in year one, it's about to get a cash injection.
As a result of conference expansion, the SEC is renegotiating its media rights deal with SEC and ESPN, which will also likely include the creation of a new SEC cable network in 2014, according toYahoo! Sports. That means more cash for everybody; and as Clay Travis of OutKickTheCoverage.com notes, Texas A&M likely has an SEC monopoly on the state of Texas.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
$3,585,000; 66-37 Record at South Carolina
Spurrier's salary didn't change this offseason, but his contract was extended through 2017, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN). At just over $3.5 million per season, the Head Ball Coach is a bargain.
It took longer than he probably expected, but South Carolina is now firmly established as one of the powers of the SEC East, thanks to a division title in 2010 and back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2011 and 12.
Spurrier has done a great job of locking down the borders and keeping talented players in state, including current wide receiver Shaq Roland, current defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, former running back Marcus Lattimore and former defensive back Stephon Gilmore.
The Gamecocks haven't been in the national championship discussion during that time, but they've been on the periphery, and Spurrier's ability to recruit and develop talented players within his system is a big reason why.
On the bottom line, the program is incredibly healthy. It turned a $26 million profit last season and was valued by Forbes at $67,000,000. Just imagine what will happen if the Gamecocks find themselves in the legitimate national title discussion. That sound you hear is a Brinks truck backing up to the complex in Columbia.
LSU head coach Les Miles
$4.3 Million; 84-21 Record at LSU
Just three short seasons ago, Miles entered the 2010 season on perhaps the hottest seat in America.
Three 10-win seasons and an SEC championship later, he was rewarded with a contract extension this offseason that will pay him an average of $4.3 million per season through 2019—tied with Ohio State's Urban Meyer as the fourth-highest-paid head coach in the country.
He has developed a pipeline to the NFL, particularly on defense, where nine players have gone on to the NFL through the draft over the last three seasons.
The program raked in $45 million in 2012, according to Forbes, and is valued at $102 million.
Sure, Miles is a little sloppy with time management from time to time, and he loses his mind in press conferences, but the "Mad Hatter" produces.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
$2 Million; 7-6 Record at Ole Miss
Is there a bigger bargain in America right now than Freeze?
Ole Miss gave him an extension in December 2012 that will make him $2 million annually through 2016 and will pay him $100,000 for every SEC win after the first SEC win of each season, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
The 7-6 record in 2013 isn't great on paper, but considering the schedule and what he inherited from previous head coach Houston Nutt, that record is mighty impressive.
On top of that, he kept Ole Miss in the national headlines this offseason by securing the nation's seventh-ranked class in the 247Sports.com composite index. That class including No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche and No. 4 overall prospect Laremy Tunsil.
Ole Miss as a destination program? Not yet, but it's getting there. And Hugh Freeze is a big reason why.
Florida head coach Will Muschamp
$2.7 Million; 18-8 Record at Florida
On the field, the jury is probably still out on Muschamp.
Yes, the 11-2 season last season was great, but there has been a remarkable absence of playmakers on the offensive side of the football in Gainesville during his two-year tenure. Not entirely his fault, of course, but certainly something to be concerned about.
On the bottom line, however, Florida is healthy.
Style points or not, Florida is the second-most profitable program in the country at $51 million. Not a bad chunk of change.
And the fact that Muschamp is ahead of only Gus Malzahn, Mark Stoops and Hugh Freeze certainly makes his body of work look even more impressive (Vanderbilt, being a private institution, isn't required to release details for James Franklin).
Muschamp received two contract extensions last offseason, the second of which extended his current deal through 2017, according to the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin
Pay: N/A; 15-11 Record at Vanderbilt
With Vanderbilt being a private institution, it isn't required to release financial details. Whatever Franklin's contract is, he's worth every penny.
The Associated Press (via ESPN) reported in December 2012 that Franklin received a raise and a long-term contract extension from Vanderbilt. That extension will keep Franklin in Nashville for "a number of years," according to athletic director David Williams.
Back-to-back bowl games and a nine-win seasons are unheard of in Nashville, but in two short seasons, Franklin has changed the culture. His team plays at a level that hasn't been seen in generations and is recruiting better than anyone could have expected.
Simply put, he's the perfect man for Vanderbilt, and it was wise to lock him down to a long-term deal, no matter how much it pays or for how long.