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Putting Gus Malzahn's salary in perspective

By bringing Gus Malzahn back to campus as head coach, Auburn made it clear it was his work as offensive coordinator, not head coach Gene Chizik, that provided the driving force behing the Tigers' 2010 national championship. However, Auburn isn't paying Malzahn like a national title-winning head coach just yet. 

On Monday evening, Auburn finally released the details of Gus Malzahn's contract. A five-year deal will pay Malzahn a total of $11.5 million, an average of $2.3 million per season. 

With an incentive package detailing nine different targets, Malzahn can earn up to an additional $1.45 million. 

So, where does that rank in the SEC?

According to the USA Today Coaching Salary Database, Malzahn's salary would have ranked eighth among the 10 SEC head coaches returning from the 2012 season. His $2.3 million salary outpaces only Hugh Freeze's $1.505 million salary among veteran SEC coaches. (Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin's salary was not available, but is estimated to be in the $3 million range.)

By comparison, Chizik ranked fourth in the SEC - behind Nick Saban, Les Miles and Steve Spurrier - with a 2012 salary of $3.577 million. 

Malzahn joined the SEC alongside Kentucky's Mark Stoops, Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Tennessee's Butch Jones. In the 2013 hiring class, Malzahn ranks third. Bielema will earn $3.2 million per year over six years, and Jones will average a shade over $3 million for six years. Bielema and Jones have a combined 13 years of head coaching experience, while 2012 was Malzahn's debut season as head coach. First-time head coach Stoops will make $2.2 million per year over five seasons. 

Malzahn made $859,610 as Arkansas State's head coach in 2012 and $1.3 million as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2011.