Firing Ed Orgeron would cost LSU football a lot, and three other SEC coaching salary takeaways

Nick Gray
Nashville Tennessean

USA TODAY Sports released its 2021 college football coaching salary database on Thursday, and SEC coaches made up a large portion of the top 25 highest paid in the sport.

Let's take some things away from the numbers in the context of a wacky 2021 season. Also: Take a look at the database here

Ed Orgeron costs LSU a lot of money, and will cost a lot more to fire

LSU extended Ed Orgeron's contract following the January 2020 national championship victory and has likely regretted the move ever since. 

Not that the Tigers wouldn't do it again, because of how fun and successful the 2019 team was, but it is going to cost  AD Scott Woodward. According to USA TODAY's coaching salary database, Orgeron is making $9,012,917 in total pay this year and has a $17,150,000 buyout. The total pay ranks second in the country, behind Alabama's Nick Saban. Orgeron got rewarded nicely for the Tigers' 2019 surge, but has not produced the best results before or after that season.

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Orgeron is on the hot seat, the public pressure is building and money (along with a Title IX investigation) could be a factor.

Sam Pittman's salary is best value in SEC

Pittman signed an incentive-laden deal in 2020 with the Razorbacks, and he is making $2.925 million in total pay this year (54th nationally, 12th in SEC) that includes a COVID-19 related $75,000 deduction. 

Still, Pittman has already done what Bret Bielema and Chad Morris couldn't do, which is make the Razorbacks a factor in the SEC West, and both coaches made more per season. Who knows where Arkansas' season heads after losing two in a row, but Pittman's contract is the best value in the SEC.

Want to hire Kentucky's Mark Stoops? Only if you can shell out $25 million+

Stoops' minimum total pay this year is $5,263,600 before adding any of the bonuses and automatic extensions built into his deal if Kentucky wins a certain amount of games. 

According to the database, Kentucky could pay Stoops up to $2.5 million in total bonuses this year. Why is that relevant? The Wildcats are 6-0 and can take control of the SEC East with a win at Georgia on Saturday. A 7-0 SEC team should have every expectation to reach the College Football Playoff. That would surely maximize Stoops' bonus this year.

And why would a breakout Kentucky season matter outside of that? Stoops' name could be a big one in the coaching silly season, but it'll cost a prospective school a buyout of $19,921,875, according to the database. Presuming Stoops would get a hefty raise from his current salary, which ranks 15th nationally at the moment, hiring him away from Kentucky would cost any school a pretty penny.

Jimbo Fisher's contract is so coach-friendly

Fisher's contract details were publicly rehashed when his contract was recently extended, but let's throw out that buyout number:  $95,575,000.

95 MILLION!

Translation: The Alabama win and the current buyout mean Fisher's job security is ironclad.