The highest-paid college football coaches have annual salaries that’ll make anyone’s head spin. The big question is, are they worth it?
Who are the top-paid head coaches in college football? Seems like a straightforward, unimportant query.
However, in these difficult times for college football, even the most casual mention of how much a player may or might not be paid for their services might ignite a heated argument.
Who are the highest-paid NCAA football coaches, though?
Top Paid College Football Coaches
But not every college football player makes the same amount of money.
Nick Saban, the head coach of Alabama, will earn $9,753,221 in 2021, more than $9 million more than Terry Bowden, the head coach of ULM, who will earn $430,000.
1. James Franklin’s salary: $7 million (Penn State)
One of the finest at leveraging leverage to secure a contract extension is the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Franklin used rumors that he was a coaching candidate for the USC Trojans, Miami Hurricanes, and LSU Tigers to get a raise and increased job security in Happy Valley.
2. Jim Harbaugh’s salary: $7.05 million (Michigan)
Jim Harbaugh got the contract extension he desired after making a passing interest in the NFL.
The head coach was given a new contract extension by the University of Michigan as compensation for a fantastic 2021 campaign. Harbaugh currently ranks among the highest-paid college football coaches after taking a pay cut last year.
3. Kirby Smart salary: $7.133 million +$850,000 bonus (Georgia)
In 2016, Kirby Smart made the move from defensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama to head coach at Georgia.
Smart’s first season in Athens resulted in a pitiful 8-5 record, but he has been outstanding ever since.
4. Lane Kiffin’s salary: $7.25 million (Ole Miss)
The Mississippi Rebels acquired contentious coach Lane Kiffin in the hopes that he could quickly revitalize their team.
Kiffin’s Rebels turned into a college football force this season and finished with a 10-2 record after a 5-5 campaign in 2020.
5. Jimbo Fisher’s salary: $7.5 million (Texas A&M)
Jimbo Fisher’s coaching future was uncertain at the time of his resignation from Florida State. Texas A&M turned to Fisher to turn around the program, and Fisher has succeeded in doing so.
With a 9-1 record in 2020, including an 8-1 SEC record, the Aggies narrowly missed qualifying for the College Football Playoff.
6. David Shaw’s salary: $8.925 million
It might be a huge surprise for some to see David Shaw is among the highest-paid college football coaches.
The Stanford Cardinal coach thrived in his early years as the Jim Harbaugh replacement, delivering five double-digit win seasons from 2011-’16.
However, Stanford has been 11-19 in the last three years and Stanford is no longer the kind of football program another conference might want to steal from the Pac-12.
7. Ryan Day’s salary: $9.5 million (Ohio State)
Some people might be extremely shocked to learn that David Shaw is one of the highest-paid college football coaches.
The Jim Harbaugh replacement’s Stanford Cardinal coach prospered in his early years, leading his team to five seasons with at least ten wins from 2011 to 2016.
But with a recent record of 11-19, Stanford is no longer the type of football program that another conference may desire to snatch from the Pac-12.
8. Nick Saban’s salary: $9,753,221 million (Alabama)
It comes as no surprise that one of the highest-paid college football coaches is also the best coach to ever play on the NCAA gridiron.
Nick Saban’s “process” is legendary, and it has helped Alabama reach a 183-25 record and six national championships.
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9. Lincoln Riley’s salary (estimated): $10-plus million (USC)
According to early projections, the contract will pay out an average salary of nearly $10 million every season, with incentives for Pac 12 Championships, College Football Playoff berths, and national championships.
If he can turn around the Trojans, that’s easily worth it given his background. USC might soon become a factory for football as well.
With no contracts for Caleb Williams, the quarterback, and top assistants and staff members joining Riley’s team from across the nation, USC is doing more than just having the highest-paid college football coach.
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