Extension makes Nick Saban college football's highest-paid coach

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

The rich in college football coaching are only getting richer, or as of Monday afternoon, richest. But when you're Nick Saban and you've just won your second national championship in three years for the most profitable athletic department in the country, it's hard to argue you're being overpaid -- even at $5.3 million a year.

The Alabama Board of Trustees approved a contract extension and raise for Saban Monday that extends his contract through the year 2020, a two-year bump, and boosts his salary from around $4.8 million to $5.3 million for the 2012 season. Annual escalators of $50,000 would take Saban's salary to just under $6 million by the end of the contract.

The total value of Saban's contract -- which could still be extended and raised again in the future, of course -- now stands at just under $45 million.

"From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment - my commitment, our family's commitment - to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career," Saban said in a post-practice press conference Monday.

It's a contract that now makes him the highest-paid college football coach in the nation, ahead of the only other member of the $5 million-a-year club, Texas's Mack Brown. Brown is scheduled to make $5.2 million this year.

It's possible -- though Saban denied it -- that that kind of money was necessary to keep him in Tuscaloosa. He also said Monday that "other people were interested" in his services and approached him following the Tide's national championship victory.

"It doesn't really matter," Saban said when asked who had attempted to hire him away. "We wanted to stay at Alabama. We're staying at Alabama and we're not interested in going anyplace else. We weren't interested in going anyplace else at the end of the season, so it really doesn't matter."

Saban wasn't the only member of the Tide's national title winning staff to cash in. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart received a $100,000 raise to $950,000, giving him the highest salary of any assistant coach in the SEC. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmaier wasn't around for the 2011 triumph, but he benefited, too, receiving a $590,000 contract that trumps former coordinator Jim McElwain's salary by $80,000.

It's a truly ginormous wad of money, to be sure, and we won't blame Alabama's players (or any of those around the SEC) for wondering why their coaches can be paid enough to buy Manitoba off of Canada's hands (it's New Sabania now, eh?, and that polar bear is now a defensive lineman) while they can't even get a measly $2,000 a year stipend for gas, clothes, and the like. But in Alabama's particular case, we're talking about an athletic department with a financial surplus somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million, in the most college football-crazed state in the union.

As always, you have to spend money to make money. And given what he's done the past four seasons in Tuscaloosa and what his recruiting has the Tide poised to do for the next four, it's hard to think of any better investment for $5.3 million dollars than another year of Nick Saban.

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