- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Auburn is going to pay first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder $850,000 for each of the next two seasons.
Remember when $500,000 was considered top dollar for a premier defensive coordinator in the SEC? Not anymore.
Alabama's Kirby Smart was already at $850,000, making him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football. Given the way his defense played last season in leading the Crimson Tide to its second national championship in three years, Smart might not be at $850,000 for much longer.
Two other SEC defensive coordinators are also in line for nice raises.
LSU's John Chavis could approach $1 million annually when his new deal is finalized. Chavis was already making $700,000, but has turned down overtures from Texas, Georgia and Clemson, among others, in the last couple of years. With the way he has re-energized the Tigers' defense, he deserves to be in that $1 million stratosphere.
The same goes for Georgia's Todd Grantham, who earned $750,000 last season. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has already said that the school is working on an extension for Grantham, whose defense finished fifth nationally in total defense last season and was the driving force behind the Bulldogs' turnaround after starting the season 0-2.
At the very least, look for both Chavis and Grantham to go well above the $800,000 mark.
In fact, when it's all said and done, there's likely to be five defensive coordinators in the SEC next season making $800,000 or more. New Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri signed a three-year deal worth $2.4 million after coming over from Alabama.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney