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LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda now makes more money per year than at least 75 college football HEAD COACHES did this season

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We gotta put this salary number into perspective.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State Spring Game Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Aranda is likely richer than you are. The LSU Tigers announced they rebuffed attempts by Texas A&M to hire away the defensive savant by giving him a reported four-year, $10 million contract extension. That’s an average of $2.5 million, and is, strictly speaking, absolutely bonkers as a salary number for an assistant coach. And for added measure, it’s fully guaranteed.

Just how much is $2.5 million per year?

Well, beyond the obvious — it’s a lot — some perspective is needed on how much this salary really is.

Aranda was already the highest-paid coordinator in the country at around $1.8 million per year, just north of Clemson DC Brent Venables’ $1.7 million. Now he’s lapping Venables and every other coordinator in college.

His salary is such that comparing him to his peers isn’t even really the move.

You have to compare him to actual head coaches.

According to USA Today’s salary database, Aranda’s 2018 salary of $2.5 would make him the 47th-highest paid head coach in 2017. Aranda now makes more money than every Group of 5 head coach whose salary is publicly available (private schools don’t have to report) did in 2017.

He’s also making more money than:

  • One head coach in the SEC;
  • Three head coaches in the Big Ten;
  • At least three head coaches each in the Big 12 and Pac-12 (Baylor coach Matt Rhule and USC coach Clay Helton’s salaries aren’t made public).
  • At least five coaches in the ACC (Miami coach Mark Richt and Syracuse coach Dino Babers’ salaries aren’t made public).

To be fair to LSU, the Tigers weren’t bidding against just themselves here.

There was a legitimate suitor in Texas A&M that has more money than God and is more than willing to spend it. The Tigers had to dish this deal out to keep Aranda, and that might be the wildest part of the whole thing.

The Aggies offered Aranda upwards of $2 million, and as negotiations go, the Tigers had to at least top that in some way as a gesture of good faith.

A&M seems to be resetting the coaching market for the 10 to 30 programs in its monetary stratosphere.

They did it when they paid Jimbo Fisher $70 million guaranteed.

I spoke to an agent Friday evening who expressed a big concern within the industry: For a sport that sustains itself on incremental change, Texas A&M just threw a bomb into how salaries are structured at the top level. The game has changed.

And now they’ve pushed the market on top-level coordinators as well, forcing LSU to out-bid in order to keep one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators.

If someone comes for Venables next offseason to try and pry him away from Clemson, his salary number to meet is now in the neighborhood of this Aranda deal.

Nobody forced LSU to pay through the nose for Aranda in the first place, but A&M’s injection into the arms race didn’t de-escalate. This is the cost of doing business, and it’s a steep one.