ATLANTA — There's a lot on the line for the Georgia Bulldogs when they face the LSU Tigers on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium: the SEC Championship. A trip to the College Football Playoffs with a chance to play for the national title. The opportunity to be first team to beat LSU this year. Pride. Memories that will last a lifetime.
For Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart, there's another big incentive for his team to win: money. Lots of money.
According to the terms of his contract, which was amended after his championship run in 2017, Smart has already pocketed an extra $100,000 just for getting into the SEC Championship. Should the Dawgs beat LSU on Saturday, Christmas will come early for the Smart family: he'll pick up another $125,000 for the championship and he'll be in line for much more.
A win in the SEC Championship would catapult the Bulldogs into the College Football Playoffs, which would mean at least another $250,000 for Smart. Should the team advance to the National Championship Game, Kirby would add another $500,000 to his bank account. If Georgia goes on to win it all, Kirby would ring in the New Year with an extra $700,000.
Adding it all up, if the Bulldogs win the national championship, it would be mean a windfall of at $925,000 in performance bonuses for Smart ($225,000 for the SEC + $700,000 for the national title). Even if the Dawgs just advance to the playoffs but fall in the semifinal, Kirby still stands to profit to the tune of $475,000 ($225,000 for the SEC + $250,000 for the playoff appearance).
So there's a lot at stake for Kirby when the Dawgs face the Tigers on Saturday.
But, believe it or not, Smart actually doesn't have as much financial incentive to win this year as he did when the Bulldogs did make their way to the national title game two years ago.
In 2017, when Georgia beat Auburn for the SEC title, Smart picked up an extra $400,000. That's $175,000 more than he'd get if his team did the same this year.
Smart's bank account increased another $500,000 when Georgia appeared in playoffs. That increased to $600,000 when the Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Kirby was in line to bump that up to $1 million had the Bulldogs won the national title, but the team fell to Alabama in the championship game.
Altogether, Smart racked up $1,350,000 in bonuses (including extras paid out for being named SEC Coach of the Year, a top 5 finish, and more - we'll get to more of that a little later). This year, his bonuses max out at $1,125,000.
But before you start a GoFundMe for the Smart family, there's this to consider: under his amended contract, Smart's pay this season (the amount he gets regardless of the bonus money) is $6,703,600 (plus he gets another $168,000 from other sources) - far more than the $3.75 million (pre-bonus) he got in 2017.
Make no mistake about it, Kirby is getting paid.
In addition to the performance bonuses described earlier, and the $6.7 million salary (which, by the way, increases each year all the way to $7.4 million in 2024, with a total 7-year value of $49 million), Kirby is eligible for these bonuses and perks:
►$75,000 bonus if his team finishes in the top 33% of SEC football teams in Graduation Success Rate and Academic Progress Rate.
►$50,000 if he is selected as SEC Coach of the Year
►$100,000 if he is selected as National Coach of the Year
►$200,000 if his team finishes in the top in the AP or the Coaches' Poll
►Paid membership at the Athens Country Club
►Use of a 25-seat box and six free tickets at home football games; six free tickets to away games and six tickets to the SEC Championship game and postseason bowl games the team plays in.
►A car allowance of $1,800 per month (plus insurance)
►Use of a "light jet" for "personal, non-business travel" for 25 hours a year.
What if the Georgia Bulldogs lose to LSU?
If it happens, Kirby will have less to spend this holiday season, but he'll still be OK. He still gets the $100,000 for making it to the game, and then he's eligible for these bonuses depending on which bowl game the Bulldogs would land in:
►$50,000 - if the team plays in the Birmingham or Independence Bowl
►$75,000 - if the team plays in a Six Pack Bowl Game (Taxslayer, Outback, Belk, Music City, Texas, Liberty)
►$100,000 - if the team plays in the Citrus Bowl
►$175,000 - if the team plays in any CFP Bowl Game (Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton).