Georgia coach Kirby Smart gets massive new contract, set to earn $7 million annually

Kirby Smart is now among the elite head coaches in the country from a salary perspective.

Georgia announced Thursday that it had approved a new contract for Smart, who is entering his third season as the program’s head coach. The deal for Smart, on the heels of a national runner-up finish in 2017, is worth $49 million and spans seven years. The deal is an enormous raise from the six-year deal he initially signed when accepting the job. That contract paid him $3.75 million annually.

With the deal now finalized, Smart joins Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn among head coaches who earn at least $7 million annually. In the SEC, Smart’s salary is tied with Malzahn for third highest behind Saban ($11.1 million) and Fisher ($7.5 million).

“Kirby has provided an incredible level of energy and excitement to our football program, and we look forward to his leadership for many years to come,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said in a statement.

Georgia finalized a lucrative new contract for head coach Kirby Smart on Thursday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Added Smart: “As a young boy, I grew up in this great state dreaming of being a Bulldog. To have been able to do that — first as a player, and now as the head football coach — is beyond anything I ever dreamed. I do not take lightly the awesome responsibility of leading this program, and while I’m pleased with where we are as a program, I couldn’t be more excited about where we’re going in the future. You can rest assured that we will continue to work tirelessly to make Georgia football the best it can possibly be.”

After nine seasons as an assistant at Alabama under Saban, Smart succeeded Mark Richt (who, coincidentally, also had an extension announced Thursday) at his alma mater ahead of the 2016 season. The Bulldogs went 8-5 that year before winning 13 games last year, including an SEC title. Georgia knocked off Oklahoma in double-overtime in the College Football Playoff semifinals before falling to Alabama 26-23 in overtime in the CFP title game.

“In just two short years, Coach Smart has established a new level of excellence in UGA’s storied football program,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to his continued success and his strong support of this great university.”

– – – – – – –

Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

More from Yahoo Sports:

MLB star’s hit may have cost him a small fortune
Dan Wetzel: Drake crossed the line in tiff with Cavs player
Report: Witten calling it quits, will take ESPN job
Barkley apologizes for comment about Warriors star