By Dan Mathews
ATLANTA – The dream has been realized. The giant is awake.
This is all in large part because of what Kirby Smart has done as the head coach at the University of Georgia. A national championship was once thought to be a pipe dream in Athens. Now that they have won two in a row? Fans are believing this will be a “new normal” every fall.
Kirby Smart has fundamentally changed this program inside and out. The fanbase listens to every challenge he issues. The movers and shakers with the money are willing to spend when asked. The players know what the “standard” is for the program and in some cases are willing to wait for their chance to play up to it.
These things are not done without the leadership of a dynamic person. Kirby is that person.
So why is he not the highest paid head coach in college football after Monday night in Los Angeles?
I get that the Georgia administration made the effort last year, after the win in Indianapolis. However, Alabama coach Nick Saban (also represented by Kirby’s agent, Jimmy Sexton) and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney were both able to jump him in this line.
Now, it is time for the work to be done to not only jump those two coaches, but make the gap even larger.
Saban reportedly made a base salary this season of $10.95 million (USA Today). Swinney made $10.54 million. Smart pulled in a cool $10.25 million.
Smart’s annual salary increases by about $200-250,000 dollars a season until 2031. Why not make it more? Say $15 million base to start and ensure that he’s able to be the destination for assistant coaches and support staff? You have a great thing going here, so keep it going!
If you’re athletic director Josh Brooks and president Jere Morehead; you can cement the current stranglehold on college football. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, you look like you’re headed for another banner season in 2023. Coaches look like they’ll all still be in Athens. Plus, a roster of strong and proven talent will return for next season.
The saying goes that you’re getting weaker, when you remain the same. Kirby has proven that he’s the most valuable coach in college football. Don’t even allow for the NFL to be an option for him.
You know what you have in Kirby as the leader of this program. Don’t mess with fate, by just keeping the status quo.
Now, I’m not accusing Georgia’s administration of sitting of their hands. However, it would go a long way for your fanbase and members of the program present/future that you’re serious about staying in the national championship business.