What do you give the highest paid college football coach in the nation? Well, if you are defending national champion Alabama, you give him a raise.
In the midst of a spring practice that, by all accounts, is going well, Nick Saban received a contract extension with an immediate bump in salary to 5.3 million, an increase of 550,000 over what he would have made in 2012 under his old contract. The extension could keep Saban in Tuscaloosa until 2020, at which point he will be making 6 million. And should he stay for the duration of the contract, he will have pocketed a total of 44,983,333.86 from the good citizens of the nations ninth poorest state, 16.1 percent of whom are living below the poverty line.
But he wins football games.
"We're staying at Alabama and we're not interested in going anyplace else," Saban said. "We weren't interested in going anyplace else at the end of the season, so it doesn't really matter."
His assistants are staying put as well. Kirby Smart, one of the names that always comes up when a head coaching job is available, received a 100,000 pay raise to get him up to 950,000, 22.5 times the medium income of the state. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier signed a three-year deal with the first years salary of 590,000.
"I think there's a very competitive market out there when it comes to assistant coaches," Saban said. "I think it's imperative that we keep continuity and that we had the opportunity to be competitive salary-wise with other schools who are trying to hire our coaches. The market is what it is, and if we're not willing to pay that to the best people that we have, they're not going to be here."
Most people in Alabama wont mind, even the 8 percent who are unemployed. The Tide beat Auburn last year, and won another national championship. Saban has a statue next to Bear.
On the field, quarterback A.J. McCarron is taking a much more aggressive leadership role in spring practice. The team practiced in pads on Wednesday and Nussmeier is opening up the field with a lot more downfield passes than fans have seen in some time. Kenny Bell and DeAndrew White are sprinting up and down the turf for McCarron.
No one should read too much into the pass-happy attack, though. With Trent Richardson on his way to the NFL and Eddie Lacy out for the spring with an injury, passing makes sense, especially with such a young receiving corps in need of reps.
They took Thursday off and will practice again on Friday before suiting up for the first scrimmage of spring on Saturday.
The A Game will be April 14 at 2 p.m. local time and will be televised. As is always the case, between 80,000 and 100,000 people will show up. Saban will wear a gray suit and red tie and stay out on the field as plays are run.
Meanwhile Gov. Robert Bentley announced that general funding to the Department of Public Safety and other state agencies would be cut by 10 percent because of revenue shortages. Public Safety director Hugh McCall said he hopes to avoid layoffs of state troopers and other employees.
It is, one would assume, what the market will bear.