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The biggest surprise? The SEC don’t have the highest paid coach in College Football. The South Eastern Conference, undoubtedly the best in the nation, has six head coaches in the top 10, but the juggernauts of the Big 12 (not for long) kind of change the outlook at the top.

I think that only five of these head coaches have had a successful season in 2011.

Number 10 – Mark Richt, Georgia Bulldogs, $2,811,400

After two tough years following the departure of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, Richt has got the Georgia Bulldogs in familiar territory, the SEC championship game against LSU, sporting a 10-2 record. The 51 year old former QB for the Miami Hurricanes (was a backup for Jim Kelly) has been Georgia’s head coach since 2001, compiling a 106-36 record, winning two conference titles, a 7-3 record in Bowl games and five top 10 finishes in the AP rankings. He has a 2-1 record in the Sugar Bowl.

Number 9 – Will Muschamp, Florida Gators, $3,221,000

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It’s nearly impossible to follow Urban Meyer’s standards in Gainesville, winning two national titles with the Gators. Muschamp, who’s been around as an assistant in the NFL and the NCAA for 15 years has the job to rebuild the Gators back into national prominence, and quick. His first year was a rough won, with a 6-6 record, their worst since 1987.

Number 8 – Brady Hoke, Michigan Wolverines, $3,254,000

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Brady Hoke’s first season as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines after tenures at Ball State and San Diego State was a dream, with Denard Robinson leading his men to their first win over Ohio State since 2003. With a 10-2 record, it was Michigan’s first 10 win season since 2006 and the first time they had a winning record in conference play since 2007. Hoke’s best season, record-wise, was his 12-1 year with Ball State in 2008.

Number 7 – Gene Chizik, Auburn Tigers, $3,500,000

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In December 2008, quite a few people in Alabama, the SEC and the nation were shocked that a head coach who led the Iowa State Cyclones to a 5-19 record in his two years with the program got the Auburn job. Three years later, with a 29-10 record an the 2010 national title after going 14-0, those question marks have all but disappeared. Or was it all due to Cam Newton?

Number 6 – Bobby Petrino, Arkansas Razorbacks, $3,635,000

It took Bobby Petrino nearly 20 years to get a head coach job. He first did an incredible job with Louisville with a 41-9 record there in four years, including winning the Orange Bowl in 2006. His Atlanta Falcons debacle is still remembered, but he has turned the program around with the Razorbacks, with a second straight 10 win season and 33-17 since he arrived to coach the Razorbacks. In the SEC West, with Alabama, Auburn and LSU, that is pretty impressive.

Number 5 – Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes, $3,785,000

Kirk Ferentz, despite numerous offers from NFL teams, has opted time and time again to stay with the Iowa Hawkeyes, who surprisingly have made him one of the highest paid head coaches in the College game. Ferentz took the helm in Iowa City in 1999, beginning with a 1-10 and 3-9 seasons. Since then, he’s made the bowl games 11 out of 12 seasons, winning two conference titles, finishing four times in the AP Ranking’s top 10 and won the Orange Bowl in 2009.

Number 4 – Les Miles, LSU Tigers, $3,751,000

After four so-so years coaching the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Miles got to replace Nick Saban at LSU. Since then? A 74-17 record, one national title in 2007, a 5-1 recording Bowl games and looking like it’ll be another national title in 2011, with 12-0 record going into the SEC Championship game against Georgia. Question is – Will it be another LSU vs Alabama for the national title or will the BCS shock us? For some reason, despite his enormous success with the Tigers, his name is always thrown around when the Michigan job opens up.

Number 3 – Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Sooners, $4,075,000

Since 1999, Bob Stoops has won the national title with Oklahoma once, won the Big 12 seven times and compiled a 137-33 record. His bowl game record ain’t that great, going 6-6 with a losing national championship effort in 2008. Still Stoops has made any season with less than 10, 11 wins look bad.

Number 2 – Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide, $4,833,333

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Saban has been a head coach since 1990 (Toledo, 9-2), with Michigan State, LSU (winning the 2003 national title) and the Miami Dolphins among his previous job. He’s been with Alabama since 2007, completely turning a suffering program around, winning the national title in 2009 after going 14-0. Saban is 54-12 since arriving in Tuscaloosa, going 8-0 in SEC play twice. The LSU – Alabama games have been nicknamed the ‘Saban Bowl’ for the past few years. His over-signing policies and Alabama’s refusal to expose numbers on scholarships have been highly criticized.

Number 1 – Mack Brown, Texas Longhorns, $5,193,500

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In 2009, when Mack Brown got a $2 million raise, there was plenty of turmoil in the Austin campus, but college football always beats social studies in terms of budgets. Brown has been head coaching the Longhorns since 1998, and not considering the 2010 and 2011 season (first losing season in 2010), Brown has never won less than 9 games. Between 2001-2009 he won at least 10 games a season. Vince Young led his Longhorns to the national title in 2005, and Texas were there again in 2009, losing to Alabama. He has two conference titles and a 140-35 record with Texas.