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Georgia head coach Mark Richt, right, and cornerback Damian Swann (5) watch as Georgia makes a field goal during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Charleston Southern on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Athens, Ga.

Recent raises for Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze and Tennessee's Butch Jones have pushed Georgia's Mark Richt further down the compensation list in the Southeastern Conference.

In fact, he's almost at the bottom.

Richt worked this season at a salary of $3.31 million, according to totals compiled by the USA Today, which had him seventh in the conference behind Alabama's Nick Saban ($7.16 million), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin ($5.01), LSU's Les Miles ($4.37), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier ($4.02), Auburn's Gus Malzahn ($3.85) and Missouri's Gary Pinkel ($3.40).

Since Thanksgiving, however, Ole Miss has locked in Freeze at $4 million annually, Florida has hired Colorado State's Jim McElwain for $3.5 million a year, and Jones has gone from a $2.96 million salary with the Volunteers to $3.6 million. Tennessee announced the new contract for Jones, which includes an extension through 2020, on Monday morning.

"Each school has to make a determination as they see fit," Georgia athletic Greg McGarity said by phone Monday afternoon. "Salaries aren't going down, obviously, and I think that's just the way college athletics is right now."

Richt is the dean of SEC coaches, having guided the Bulldogs to a 135-48 record in 14 seasons, but is suddenly 10th in the group in salary. He soon will be 11th given the impending raise for Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, who earns $3 million, and it is not known whether a pay hike at Arkansas could be coming for Bret Bielema, who earns $3.21 million and was linked to the recent Nebraska opening.

Only Kentucky's Mark Stoops could trail Richt entering the 2015 season in terms of known SEC coaching salaries -- Vanderbilt does not release its salaries -- but Stoops agreed to a contract several weeks ago that will pay him $3.25 million next season and $3.5 million in 2016.

"Just because others are doing things doesn't mean that Georgia has to do anything," McGarity said. "We will do what we do every year. We evaluate every program at the conclusion of a season, and we go from there."

The Bulldogs went 9-3 during the regular season and will face Louisville in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30.

Richt has said since December 2000, when he was hired to replace Jim Donnan, that he wants to coach at Georgia for as long as he is wanted. That has kept his name from being mentioned with other jobs, which has been the case in recent days with Bielema to Nebraska, Freeze to Florida and Jones to Michigan.

Georgia has won five SEC East titles during Richt's time in Athens, two more than any other team in the division, but the Bulldogs have not claimed the overall league crown since 2005. His 73.8-percent career winning rate trails just Ohio State's Urban Meyer (84.3 percent), Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (79.6), Saban (75.7) and TCU's Gary Patterson (74.4) among active Bowl Subdivision coaches with more than 10 seasons.

USA Today featured Richt in a story that ran late last month with a list of the Bowl Subdivision coaching salaries, pointing out how he ranked in the middle of the SEC pack. That ranking, due to a surge of contract extensions, already is outdated.

"I am making more money than I ever dreamed of," Richt said in the article, "so I don't worry about it too much."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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