Saturday December 9, 2023

Who Is Highest-Paid Coach in College Football?

  • Alabama's Nick Saban continues his reign as college football's highest paid coach.
  • The top 25 highest-paid coaches have all earned more than $6M annually.
Nick Saban highest paid college football head coach.
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
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Led again by Alabama’s Nick Saban, USA Today’s annual list of highest-paid college football head coach salaries at public universities features seven SEC head coaches in the top 10.

Saban’s protege Kirby Smart — now a back-to-back national champion with Georgia — checks in at No. 3 on the list. LSU’s Brian Kelly, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Tennessee’s Josh Heupel, and Mississippi’s Lane Kiffin occupy the entire latter half of the top 10.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney again takes the runner-up spot and is the only ACC entry until Florida State’s Mike Norvell pops up at No. 15.

For the Big Ten, Ohio State’s Ryan Day jumps up to No. 4, while Michigan State’s Mel Tucker technically still occupies the fifth spot — though he is likely to leave the list entirely after he was fired for cause after a sexual harassment investigation.

College football’s buzziest head coach, Deion Sanders, ranks 32nd, making $5.5 million in his first season with Colorado.

Here is the full list of the top 25 college football head coach salaries as of the 2023 season, with the only two private schools entries — USC’s Lincoln Riley and Miami’s Mario Cristobal — included with reported salaries.

Top 25 Highest Paid

1.Nick SabanAlabama$11.4M
2.Dabo SwinneyClemson$10.9M
3.Kirby SmartGeorgia$10.7M
4.Ryan DayOhio State$10.3M
5.Mel Tucker*Michigan State$10M
6.Lincoln RileyUSCestimated $10M
7.Brian KellyLSU$9.9M
8.Jimbo FisherTexas A&M$9.1M
9.Mark StoopsKentucky$9.01M
10.Josh HeupelTennessee$9M
11.Lane KiffinMississippi$9M
12.James FranklinPenn State$8.5M
13.Jim HarbaughMichigan$8.3M
14.Mario CristobalMiamireported $8M
15.Luke FickellWisconsin$7.6M
16.Mike GundyOklahoma State$7.6M
17.Mike NorvellFlorida State$7.3M
18.Billy NapierFlorida$7.3M
19.Brent VenablesOklahoma$7.1M
20.Kirk FerentzIowa$7M
21.Dan LanningOregon$6.6M
22.Hugh FreezeAuburn$6.5M
23.Bret BielemaIllinois$6.5M
24.Sam PittmanArkansas$6.4M
25.Kyle WhittinghamUtah$6.3M

Updated: Oct. 4, 2023
Post has been updated with USA Today’s latest data.

Updated: Aug. 30, 2023
*Was fired by Michigan State.

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