SEC coaches contract rankings - Where does Brent Venables rank in the new conference?

Following coach Venables's contract extension last month, we wanted to take a quick look at where the Oklahoma football coach ranks in the SEC and discuss whether his ranking is justified.
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The State of Oklahoma's two highest-paid employees are football coaches. Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables ranks number one, and Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy ranks number two. The two universities' basketball coaches are number three and four. Oklahoma Athletics Director Joe Castiglione rounds out the top five. Needless to say, college athletics pays its people big bucks, especially in the SEC.

The fact that the State of Oklahoma's highest-paid employee is a college football coach is not a rarity. We aren't alone here. Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, and Louisiana also have their highest-paid State employees who are big-time college football coaches. These programs deserve to pay these coaches this money because their programs generate astronomical revenue for their state and their university.

Since the SEC 'just means more,' it's fitting that 12 out of the top 25 highest-paid coaches in the country are from the SEC, with the highest-paid of all being Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart. That's what two national championships in three years get you, especially in Athens, GA. Here are the SEC coaches' rankings in terms of contract amount:

SEC Coaches Contract Rankings

1. Kirby Smart - Georgia - $13M

Coach Smart's contract is ranked #1 in the nation.

2. Steve Sarkisian - Texas - $10.3M

Coach Sark's contract is ranked #3 in the nation.

3. Kalen DeBoer - Alabama - $10M

Coach DeBoer's contact is ranked #5 in the nation.

4. Brian Kelly - LSU - $9.9M

Coach Kelley's contract is ranked #8 in the nation.

5. Mark Stoops - Kentucky - $9M

Coach Stoops' contract is ranked #9 in the nation.

6. Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss - $9M

Coach Kiffin's contract is ranked #10 in the nation.

7. Eliah Drinkwitz - Missouri - $9M

Coach Drinkwitz's contract is ranked #11 in the nation.

8. Josh Heupel - Tennessee - $9M

Coach Heupel's contract is ranked #12 in the nation.

9. Brent Venables - Oklahoma - $8.1M

Coach Venables' contract is ranked #14 in the nation.

10. Billy Napier - Florida - $7.3M

Coach Napier's contract is ranked #19 in the nation.

11. Mike Elko - Texas A&M - $7M

Coach Elko's contract is ranked #21 in the nation.

12. Hugh Freeze - Auburn - $6.5M

Coach Freeze's contract is ranked #24 in the nation.

13. Shane Beamer - South Carolina - $6.3M

Coach Beamer's contract is ranked #27 in the nation.

14. Sam Pittman - Arkansas - $6.2M

Coach Pittman's contract is ranked #28 in the nation.

15. Jeff Lebby - Mississippi State - $4.5M

Coach Lebby's contract is ranked #38 in the nation.

16. Clark Lea - Vanderbilt - $2.9M

Coach Lea's contract is ranked #48 in the nation.

As far as the national coaching outlook goes, Venables makes more than some of college football's biggest names like Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Deion Sanders (Colorado), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Dan Lanning (Oregon), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Matt Rhule (Nebraska), and Dave Aranda (Baylor). So nationally, he's doing alright.

SEC-wise, he may be low. Of course, Kirby Smart is first, as he should be. Sarkisian at 2nd is a head-scratcher, but it's Texas, and they made a playoff, so that is fitting. DeBoer made his money last year at Washington and took over for Saban, so the pressure is on.

Kelly at number 4 is fitting since he's a proven successful coach, and he's made LSU relevant again; plus, his guy won a Heisman last year. Mark Stoops has made Kentucky relevant, which is a feat, but I don't know about 5. Kiffin and Drinkwitz at 6 and 7 are overpayments defined.

There's a threat Kiffin will leave every offseason, and Mizzou finally had a successful post-season. They shouldn't be above Brent at 9. There's a fitting dropoff after Venables down to Lea at 16.

Brent should be 7th right now. However, he barely trails 6 and 7, so his contract is fitting. If he wins the SEC, obviously, it'll shoot up. Even if he comes close this year by winning 9 or 10 games, it'll go up again next offseason.

One thing is clear, OU believes in Brent, as they should. He's already shown massive improvement and the ability to recruit with anyone in the nation. He's a program builder like Smart. He does things the right way, and time is on his side. I will be shocked if he's not in the top 3 by the time his next extension comes along.