Georgia athletic director Damon Evans said he likes being in the middle of the pack and has no desire to be one of the frontrunners in the Southeastern Conference in one category — football coaches salaries.
With a budget of less than $1.6 million per year for its assistants, Georgia ranks fourth in the league. Head coach Mark Richt makes $2 million per year, which is among the top five in the league.
"Our philosophy is to pay a fair wage for the job being done," Evans said. "We want to be fair and competitive. While we want to look at the market place, we don’t want to be the leaders."
Like Evans, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs expressed contentment with where the Tigers are league-wide with salaries. The Tigers are slightly ahead of Georgia with a $1.87 million budget for assistants. Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville will make $2.6 million this season, second in the league behind Alabama’s newly hired coach Nick Saban.
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Alabama hasn’t released the figures for its new assistant coaching staff, but it is believed to be close to $2 million.
Jacobs said Auburn’s philosophy is to hire the best coaches and expect the best from them and pay the best. He points to two reasons which translate into Auburn being one of the highest paid staffs in the league — stability and success.
"Maybe with the exception of Georgia, if you look at the programs with stability, I don’t know of anybody that’s had the stability of coaches for the number of years as Auburn," Jacobs said. "Being able to keep continuity is a great asset."
That continuity has kept Auburn and Georgia among the top teams in the SEC, as well as nationally, over the last few years.
"When you look at the stability and the success of our coaches, in terms of academics, athletics and character, our staff should be one of the highest paid," Jacobs said.
Evans and Jacobs said they look at SEC averages when working on their proposals for the coaching staff. "I look at the league, at the competitors they’re going to have to beat every day," Jacobs said. "I look at what they’re doing and what would make Auburn the most attractive job to potential candidates. On occasion, I look at the national average."
Evans said that’s his philosophy too.
"You try to make sure you’re within the ballpark," Evans said. "You don’t want to put the assistants in a position where they think we aren’t fair and competitive."
The two athletic directors also said they would take a wait-and-see approach to the hiring of Saban at Alabama and how it might affect the marketplace.
"I’m sure Alabama did what they felt was appropriate and what they think is right," Evans said. "There’s no doubt that particular salary brought attention. It set the high in the marketplace. Our philosophy is to continue to do what we think is appropriate.
"Where we have Mark Richt is very fair and competitive, but we need to be cognizant of the world in which we operate. We’ll continue to look at the market, but we won’t solely let the marketplace dictate what we do."