TRips: Three Sunday thoughts

As you've undoubtedly heard or read by now, Nick Saban's accountant isn't likely to have a case of the Mondays.

Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama has changed the game in more ways than one.

That's because Alabama's head football coach is in line for another pay raise, which, given the Bryant-like run the Crimson Tide currently finds itself in the midst of, makes absolutely perfect (dollars and) sense.

To be clear, this isn't a column on whether the astronomic rise in coaching salaries over the past decade is a negative or positive reflection on college athletics; merely some perspective on a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Consider this: When Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, he was one of four college football coaches pulling down more than $3 million per season, joining then Florida coach Urban Meyer, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Texas' Mack Brown as the highest paid coaches in the game.

Fast forward to 2011 and five SEC coaches -- Saban, LSU's Les Miles, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino, Auburn's Gene Chizik and Florida's Will Muschamp -- eclipsed the $3 million mark.

That's not five in all of college football. That's five in the SEC alone.

Four other league coaches -- Georgia's Mark Richt, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, now ex-Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen -- earned more than $2.5 million in 2011.

While big ticket coaches dominate headlines, most striking, to me, at least, are the salaries of some of the league's sub-.500 coaches.

At Tennessee, Derek Dooley has a base salary of $2.1 million per season. Meanwhile, Joker Phillips is clocking $1.7 million per at basketball-crazed Kentucky.

Both enter their third seasons on the job with identical 11-14 records.

Good work if you can get it. The tough part, as Dooley and Phillips are quickly coming to understand, is hanging on to it.

Mettenberger hype on the rise and you aren't surprised: Given the events of Jan. 9, you knew it was coming: Zach Mettenberger, formerly of the University of Georgia, has taken over for Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee at quarterback and all is right with the LSU offense.

If there's one thing we knew we could count on this spring it was that Mettenberger and the rest of the Tigers' passing game would show dramatic signs of improvement. So no one was surprised when Mettenberger's stat line from yesterday's controlled (and that's the key word here) scrimmage looked like this: 16 of 25, 177 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

On the day, LSU quarterbacks passed for 278 yards in all, leading head coach Les Miles to say, "I think we are competing in the passing game very well."

While Mettenberger is talented, it's important to note that Saturday's scrimmage was closed to the public. Even after checking out the stats and hearing Miles' comments, here's guessing Tiger fans and the media that cover their team won't fully buy the improvement talk until they see it for themselves.

From unemployed to $8 million guaranteed in 18 months: How bad was it for former Alabama defensive end Mark Anderson?

Four games into the 2010 season, the Chicago Bears cut Anderson in favor of signing Charles Grant, the former New Orleans Saints pass rusher who at the time was toiling in the United Football League.

Anderson managed to catch on with the Houston Texans, for whom he posted four sacks in 11 games in 2010. Still, it wasn't like Anderson, a fifth-round selection by the Bears in 2006, was a hot commodity on the free agency market when the lockout ended last summer.

Twelve and a half sacks later as a part-time starter for the 2011 AFC champion New England Patriots, Anderson was recruited harder as an NFL free agent this offseason than he was as a prep prospect -- in-state schools Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each took a pass on Anderson -- coming out of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School in 2001.

Anderson visited Tennessee and Baltimore before signing with Buffalo last week. Terms of the deal: Four years, $27.5 million with ... wait for it, wait for it ... $8 million guaranteed.

A year and half after being cut for Grant, who lasted all of two weeks with the Bears before being cut himself, Anderson got paid. And after adding Anderson and fellow defensive end Mario Williams to go along wth tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams in their new 4-3 scheme, the Bills look to have seriously upgraded a unit that ranked 27th in the NFL in sacks a season ago.

Follow Travis Reier on twitter: @travisreier

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