Fast rise of Georgia’s Dan Lanning continues

Remember when Florida State hired Mike Norvell as head coach in December? Dan Lanning certainly does.

Georgia’s defensive coordinator, coming off his first season in that capacity with the Bulldogs, was offered the chance to go to Tallahassee and join his former boss at Memphis on the Seminoles’ staff. Lanning turned down that opportunity because Kirby Smart not only told Lanning that he wanted him to stay, he showed him how much he wanted him to stay.

Smart offered Lanning a $500,000 per raise to remain at UGA. Lanning accepted and continued coordinating a Georgia defense that led the nation in points (12.6 pg) and rushing allowed (74.6 ypg).

While that transaction took place on Dec. 10, it wasn’t revealed until this week when UGA responded to open-record requests for salary actions for its football coaching staff.

Lanning’s raise was one of three executed for members of Smart’s coaching staff. Defensive line coach Tray Scott received a $130,000 pay increase to $600,000 on Jan. 20 and inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann received a $50,000 bump to $600,000 on Feb. 8.

Director of player development Jonas Jennings also received a $100,000 raise to $406,000 in December and defensive quality-control specialist Dan O’Brien received a $40,000 increase to $90,000 per year in February.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes open-record requests every month for football staff salary actions. So why are we just hearing about this now?

“They weren’t activated until now,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said Wednesday. “We just processed them all at once. These were all done pre-virus.”

McGarity wanted to emphasize that the moves were made before the COVID-19 pandemic had the world in its grip. Almost all athletic-department business has been halted since the SEC and NCAA canceled all sports competition in mid-March.

The good news for the aforementioned coaches is the newly activated salaries will be paid retroactively from their respective effective dates. That’s particularly significant for Lanning, who will now earn $1.25 million. That includes $390,000 in base salary and $860,000 in “supplemental compensation.” Supplemental income is paid to athletic association employees quarterly.

Lanning’s raise is the latest illustration of what has been a meteoric rise for him in college football. Since coming to Georgia in 2018, the 33-year-old graduate of William Jewell College in Missouri has gone from the second lowest-paid member of Smart’s staff to the Bulldogs’ highest-paid assistant coach. Lanning’s salary places him ahead of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken ($1.1 million) and makes him the 13th highest-paid assistant in the country.

Lanning was making $325,000 as Georgia’s outside linebackers coach when he was tabbed to succeed Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator in 2018. Schumann was named co-coordinator at the time.

Monken is one of three new coaches on the Bulldogs’ 2020 staff. Smart also hired Matt Luke ($900,000) from Ole Miss to replace Sam Pittman as offensive line coach and Scott Cochran ($550,000) from Alabama to replace Scott Fountain as special-teams coordinator.

Smart also had his supplemental pay increased to $6.3 million in January, as per the contract he signed in 2018, raising his overall pay to $6.8 million. Tight ends coach Todd Hartley also is scheduled to receive a $100,000 raise to $400,000 on July 1, per his contract.

Being on Smart’s staff at Georgia is a good thing for a coach. UGA football’s total staff pay is now $7.2 million. That’s up from $6.1 million in 2019 and $6.4 million in 2018. That does not include bonuses for reaching the SEC Championship game, winning the conference championship and playing in bowl games.

Only Alabama ($7.54M), Clemson ($7.41M) and Ohio State ($7.25M) paid their staffs more in 2019, according to USA Today's annual survey. Figures for 2020 are not yet available.