- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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The money that SEC head coaches make these days almost seems like monopoly money.
Another coach, in this case Florida's Will Muschamp, vaults to the $3 million range, and we hardly bat an eye.
Muschamp received a $250,000 raise, which was announced last Friday, and will now earn $2.928 million annually through the 2017 season. That means nine of the SEC's 14 head coaches are now right at $3 million or more in annual salary -- Alabama's Nick Saban ($5.62 million), LSU's Les Miles ($4.3 million), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier ($3.3 million), Georgia's Mark Richt ($3.2 million), Arkansas' Bret Bielema ($3.2 million), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin ($3.1 million) and Tennessee's Butch Jones ($2.95 million). Vanderbilt's James Franklin is the ninth. His salary is not public record because Vanderbilt is a private institution, but sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that he's making more than $3 million per year.
When Muschamp was hired at Florida prior to the 2011 season, he'd never been a head coach, so the Gators got him a little cheaper.
And while I realize the most recent image we have of the Gators is them getting pummeled by Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl last season, the fact that they won 11 games a year ago is a tribute to the job Muschamp and his staff did during their second year in Gainesville after spending most of Year 1 cleaning up the mess left them by Urban Meyer.
Remember, it was Meyer who called the program "broken" when he left.
There were a ton of off-the-field issues to fix, but the Gators were severely limited on offense last season with a first-year starter at quarterback, a receiving corps that was inconsistent at best and an offensive line that was shaky in pass protection. But a physical running game coupled with outstanding defense and special teams helped Florida squeeze out 11 wins when a lot of other teams might have won eight or nine under the same circumstances.
There was very little margin for error with last season's Florida team, and Muschamp found a way to scratch out 11 wins and beat four top 10 teams along the way. He absolutely deserved a raise, and the better news for Florida fans is that the Gators should be much better on offense this season and just as good as they were a year ago on defense and special teams.
But Muschamp would be the first to tell you that merely winning 10-plus games again won't be good enough if the Gators don't get to Atlanta and play for the SEC championship.
And at Florida, the goal isn't just to play for SEC titles. It's to win them, something the Gators haven't done since 2008.