Listen closely and you can almost hear Gene Chizik and his coaching staff singing that familiar tune that reverberates at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the fall:
"It's great to be an Auburn Tiger. I say, it's great to be an Auburn Tiger."
Yeah, it is great, especially if you happen to coach football.
On the heels of an unexpected 8-5 season, including a victory against Northwestern in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day, and the signing of a top-five recruiting class, Chizik and his assistants have reaped a financial windfall.
Chizik has received a $200,000 raise, bumping his salary to $2.1 million. Not bad for a guy whose record as a head coach is still just 13-24. Remember, he was 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State before Auburn lured him away.
His boost in pay, however, wasn't as generous as the increase offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn received. According to a report in the Birmingham News, Malzahn received a 43 percent pay increase and will make $500,000 this year.
Also, Chizik and his nine assistants are set to make $4,131,000 this year.
That's almost as much as the combined salary total Alabama is shoveling out for head coach Nick Saban ($4 million per) and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart ($750,000 per after his salary was more than doubled recently). But the Crimson Tide did just win a national championship.
Obviously, the folks at Auburn believe Chizik and his staff have the Tigers headed in that direction. Although it will be interesting to see how they do in their encore season in 2010 with a slightly more difficult schedule and having to replace some key seniors, such as quarterback Chris Todd, running back Ben Tate and defensive end Antonio Coleman, the latter two who are projected to go in the early rounds of the NFL draft.
If Auburn continues to make strides and contends in the Southeastern Conference West Division in 2010, the Tigers' money will be well spent. But if they struggle (and they probably will), some people (like me) are bound to wonder why Chizik received a raise when there was no specific provision in his contract to get one after his first season.
Back in the day, you used to have to win a championship or at least come close to winning one before receiving a compensation hike.
Now, I guess you just have to look like one day you will. And we all know looks can be deceiving.