Head coach Nick Saban of Alabama with Georgia coach Kirby Smart at the SEC Championship game
Nick Saban took Kirby Smart's title in just over a month.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Petty Nick Saban Wrests Kirby Smart’s Highest-Paid Coach Title With Contract

Saban's new deal pays him an average yearly salary of $11.7 million compared to Smart's measly $11.25 million average annual salary

What a difference a day makes. Or, in this instance, 33 days.

That’s how long Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and Alabama were able to contain their ego (the former) and checkbook (the latter) before snatching the title of the highest-paid coach in college football away from Georgia’s Kirby Smart, who coached the third-ranked Bulldogs to a victory over Saban and the top-ranked Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship in January.

As a reward for guiding the Bulldogs, who lost to Saban and Alabama in the championship game following the 2017 season, to a title, Georgia gave Smart a new 10-year contract in July with a 2022 salary of $10.25 million and an average value of $11.25 million. That was apparently too much for Saban and Alabama to take, and yesterday the school announced that the 70-year-old coach had been given an extension that expires in February 2030. 

“Our family is very happy to agree to a contract extension with The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement Tuesday. “Terry [Saban’s wife] and I are very appreciative of the unmatched commitment the University has shown to this football program and our family over the last 15-plus years. This is our home, and we look forward to finishing our career at Alabama.”

Saban was scheduled to make $9.9 million this year before the extension, and his new deal is worth $93.6 million, with an average yearly salary over the length of the contract of $11.7 million. The joke of it is, Saban just signed a new deal last summer that would have kept him with the team through the 2028 season, at which point he’ll be over 75 years old. That being the case, it’s pretty clear the extension was just to stroke Saban’s ego and make sure he still had the title of the highest-paid coach in college football.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have the best football coach in the nation and one of the greatest coaches of all time, regardless of sport, here at Alabama in Coach Saban,” Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne, who also received an extension and raise on Tuesday that pays him an average of $1.7 million per year, said. “Not only have his teams been successful on the field, but they have also achieved greatly in the classroom and community. Beyond that, the impact he and Ms. Terry have had on The University, Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama cannot be overlooked. They are special people, and we are very thankful to have them around for many years to come. We are so proud of this program and the championship culture Coach Saban has instilled throughout.”

Smart, who has one national title compared to Saban’s eight, still holds the lead over his rival in one area. According to AL.com, Smart gets 50 hours of access to a private plane, double Saban’s 25-hour allowance.

Tax dollars in Georgia and Alabama, hard at work.

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