AUBURN – When Gene Chizik was last a coordinator – way back in the old days of 2005 – half-million-dollar salaries for assistants were all but unheard of.

Now they’re increasingly the cost of competing in the free-spending upper echelon of major college football.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn became the first SEC offensive coordinator to crack the half-million mark last week. Malzhan and the nine other members of Auburn’s coaching staff all got raises after the 2009 season and subsequent highly ranked recruiting class. Head coach Gene Chizik is the only SEC coach to return his entire staff intact.