SEC is Best Gig in the Nation

Almost everywhere you turn, someone's commenting about the bad economy. The housing market is blowing up in our faces, the Dow Jones is at a two-year low, but in the world of college football, things couldn't be better – especially in the SEC.

Two weeks ago,'s Heath Cline reported that Tennessee and Phillip Fulmer were nearing a new deal and earlier this week, the dean of the SEC's football coaches signed his new seven-year contract that pays an average $3 million per year.

Last summer, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley reworked Urban Meyer's contract, giving the Gator head man six more years in Gainesville at an average of $3.25 per year. It was a 60 percent increase that was well deserved. Meyer brought Florida its second national championship in just his second year and has a bumper crop of young talent that's eager to compete for a third.

Meyer was offered his new deal just a few months after Alabama signed Nick Saban at an SEC-record $3.75 million per year. At the time, Meyer's and Saban's deals seemed astronomical, but since then, Les Miles has joined the $3 million club after leading LSU to a national title earlier this year, and now the longest tenured SEC coach joins the party as well.

In fact everyone in the SEC is doing pretty well when payday rolls around. When Bobby Petrino deserted the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas, he inked a $2.85 million deal, and his replacement Houston Nutt isn't doing too shabby after bolting out of Fayetteville for Ole Miss where his deal is worth $1.7 million.

Depending what preseason magazines you read, Auburn and Georgia are the frontrunners in the SEC, and Mark Richt and Tommy Tuberville are well compensated for what they've done at their respective schools. Both Richt and Tuberville bring in $2.8 million per year. Unfortunately for Vandy's Bobby Johnson, he's holding onto the least lucrative SEC job, pulling in a meager $1 million per year.

All in all, with Fulmer's new increase, SEC coaches make an average $2.5 million per year. To put that into perspective, only 15 coaches in all of Division I-A college football make $2.5 million or more. And seven of the highest 11 paid coaches in the country walk the sidelines in the SEC.

To compare to other conferences, the Big East's top-dog is Rutgers' Greg Shiano making a little more than $1.7 million per season. Pete Carroll makes $3.8 million at Southern Cal, but the next highest paid coach in the Pac-10 is Mike Belotti at just more than $2 million followed by Cal's Jeff Tedford at $1.85 million. The third highest paid coach in the Pac-10, which many believe is the nation's second best conference behind the SEC, makes roughly the same amount of money as Steve Spurrier at South Carolina who ranks eighth in his own conference.

With SEC teams crowned as BCS National Champion in three of the last five years, there's no question the cream of the crop resides in the conference. Not only do conference school's have the largest average attendance and the most sellouts across the nation, but the coaches are easily the richest in the nation as well.

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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