The second half of the national championship game didn't go the way they wanted -- to say the least -- but things are looking up at Georgia. Straight up. The Bulldogs are the reigning SEC champions and did come thisclose to winning their first national title in nearly 40 years, tracking slightly ahead under Kirby Smart of where Nick Saban was through two years of his ongoing tenure at Alabama.
Georgia immediately rebounded from its bitter end to 2017 by signing the unanimous No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Not only that, it was one of the best hauls ever signed during the Internet age -- a 26-man class that included a mind-numbing seven 5-stars and 11 4-stars, led by No. 1-ranked dual threat quarterback Justin Fields, regarded as a legitimate threat to unseat true sophomore Jake Fromm for the starting role.
As I said, things are looking straight up in Athens.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker remains the highest-paid assistant, leaping from $900,000 to $1.5 million. But though Tucker is the highest-paid assistant, Georgia on the whole pays more for its offensive coaches than its defense. Coordinator Jim Chaney trails behind Tucker at $950,000 and wide receivers coach James Coley -- who turned down a coordinator offer at Texas A&M and is set to see an increased role with the hiring of wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton as the 10th assistant -- nearly doubled his salary from $450,000 to $850,000. Offensive line coach Sam Pittman is the third member of Georgia's offensive staff room to earn more than $800,000, and running backs coach Dell McGee bumped from $350,000 to $550,000.
In all, the raises pushed Georgia to $6.42 million for its assistant coaches, moving the Dogs into third place nationally behind Ohio State ($7.06 million) and Clemson ($6.585 million). Alabama led the nation in 2017, according to the USA Todaydatabase, at $5.995 million. The Tide is expected to award similar raises following a national championship season.
Here is how the entire on-the-field staff breaks down, courtesy of the Macon Telegraph.
Defensive coordinator/DBs coach Mel Tucker
Offensive coordinator/QBs coach Jim Chaney
Wide receivers coach James Coley
Offensive line coach Sam Pittman
Running backs coach Dell McGee
Defensive line coach Tray Scott
Tenth assistant Cortez Hankton
Inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann
Outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning
Special teams coordinator Scott Fountain
$1.86 million (40.8%)
* - Salary earned by 2017 staff member who is no longer at Georgia
Additionally, Georgia increased head strength coach Scott Sinclair's salary to $450,000 (a 50% raise) and will pay Sinclair's four assistants a total of $457,105.
And all this -- a 40% raise for the 10 assistants and moving from 12th to third nationally in assistant coach pay -- won't even be the biggest raise Georgia doles out this off-season. Smart earned a paltry $3.75 million in 2017, good for 24th in the nation and fourth in his own division. That won't be the case for much longer.
In a related story, Georgia has previously announced a ticket price increase for the 2018 season.