Kirby Smart, Georgia finalize $112.5M contract extension

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta.   (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Not that he wasn’t already well-compensated, but Georgia’s Kirby Smart now ranks among the highest paid college football coaches in the country.

UGA on Thursday -- right in the middle of the final session of SEC Media Days -- announced it had finalized the long-awaited contract extension for the Bulldogs’ seventh-year coach. The 10-year deal is worth $112.5 million and will keep Smart on the Georgia sideline through the 2031 season.

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“Mary Beth, my family and I are excited and grateful for the extension of my agreement with The University of Georgia,” Smart said in a statement released by the school. “This is home for us, our roots run deep here. My commitment to this university and our football program is unwavering.”

Smart’s salary and supplemental compensation for the 2022 season will be $10,250,000. Annual incremental increases averaging about $222,000 per year will culminate in $12,250,000 for the 2031 season. He was averaging $7.1 million previously.

The deal, brokered by Memphis-based agent Jimmy Sexton, is thought to make Smart the highest-paid coach in college football. It comes six months after Georgia won the school’s football first national championship in 41 years.

Southern Cal coach Lincoln Riley, who has never won a national championship, signed a reported 10-year, $110 million deal after leaving Oklahoma at the end of last season.

With a 14-1 mark last season, the Bulldogs improved to 66-15 (.815) under Smart’s guidance, 40-9 in SEC play (.816) and 5-1 in bowl games. At age 46, he has notched victories in the Sugar, Orange, Rose and Peach bowls.

Smart’s winning percentage is .852 (58-10) over the past five seasons, which includes the 2021 College Football Playoff championship, a 2018 CFP title-game appearance, the 2017 SEC championship and four SEC Eastern Division titles. His past five teams all finished in the top 10 of the final CFP rankings.

Smart has been named SEC Coach of the Year twice since he was hired in December 2015, and he has coached 11 first-round NFL draft picks and 45 overall.

Smart’s 2021 team will go down as one of the greatest in school history. It recorded the first undefeated regular season (12-0) since 1982. With a 33-18 victory over Alabama in the CFP title game in Indianapolis on Jan. 10, Georgia’s defense allowed just 10.2 points per game. That was the lowest since the Crimson Tide allowed 8.2 per game in 2011, when its defense also was under the guidance of Smart. The Bulldogs set 21 school records, overall, most of them on defense variety.

“Coach Smart’s impact on the University of Georgia extends far past his significant accolades as our head football coach,” Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks said in a statement released by the school. “He and his wife are Bulldogs through and through, and it is evident that Athens and UGA mean as much to him as he means to us. I am excited for our football program’s continued success under his direction. The future of Georgia football remains bright with coach Smart as its steadfast leader.”

Said Smart: “I’m thankful to President Jere Morehead and Josh Brooks for their continued support of Georgia football. It’s an honor being the head football coach at the University of Georgia, and while I’m certainly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, I’m confident the best is yet to come.”

Smart was asked Wednesday at SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame about the long process that had seen contract negotiations extend into a sixth month.

“Both sides have worked really hard at getting things done, and things have been great,” Smart said. “I cannot say more with what they’ve been willing to do and the communication that we’ve had. It’s just not as easy as you think it is. I think people think it’s just a number and a year, but there’s so much more that goes into it.”