Sports

Top 25 Highest Paid College Football Coaches

Highest Paid College Football Coaches

Being a college student is tough and stressful. Being a college student-athlete is even tougher and more stressful. Not only do student-athletes need to study hard and keep their grades up, they also need to train hard every day. On top of that, they need to perform inside pressure cooker atmospheres every week. Tough and stressful indeed. However, a college football coach’s job is even more tough and stressful. College football coaches are essentially responsible for guiding over 100 young student-athletes through their whirlwind college years. College football coaches have to ensure that their student-athletes don’t go off the wheels on a crazy train of non stop frat house partying and other out of control actions. College football coaches also serve as the father figures for many star athletes who come from single-parent households. A lot of those kids come from a life of a abject poverty and are usually the first member of their family to ever attend college. College football coaches are not only responsible for making them great football players, they are also expected to help these young boys grow up into responsible young men who can take care of their families through their education and on-field performance. Only a handful of college players make it into the NFL and its millions, so it’s important that college football coaches guide all their players (not just the stars) towards a life of success after college. As if making the kids win on the football field weren’t a big enough challenge, college football coaches also need to ensure that the kids also win in life.  Every aspect of a college football coach’s job, right from attending press conferences to behaving themselves a certain way on the field, is scrutinized by everyone, all the time. Subpar performances are impossible to cover up, no matter how hard coaches try. The scrutiny is intense, and non-stop. Just before College Football Playoffs start, all coaches come face to face with questions like, “Is it good enough?” College football coaching is a relentless day-in, day-out grind, and as expected, very few coaches have enjoyed sustained (or any) success at the national level.

However, such intense pressure also results in positions that pay extremely well. In fact, some top college football coaches earn even more than NFL coaches. These astronomical salaries are covered in the database published by USA Today annually. 

In this post, we will cover the 25 highest paid college football coaches who are active in the 2019 season. Their win-loss record until the start of the 2019 season is also mentioned. 

Here are the 25 highest paid college football coaches:

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin (42-12)

Annual Salary: $4,150,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,250,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Though Chryst has not won a conference or national championship in his four seasons at the helm in Madison, he has won bowl games in each of those four years.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State (107-51)

Annual Salary: $4,399,437

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $650,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 3

A fact about the coach: Dantonio has thrice won the Big Ten with the Spartans, and in two of those years, he was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.

Will Muschamp, South Carolina (22-17)

Annual Salary: $4,400,000

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,400,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Muschamp’s coaching career has taken him to some of the biggest programs in the country, including LSU, Florida, and his alma mater, Auburn. Additionally, the Rome, Georgia, native enjoyed a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.

Ryan Day, Ohio State (3-0)

Annual Salary: $4,500,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $800,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Between his three wins as interim head coach of the Buckeyes in 2018 and his perfect start since he’s taken over for Urban Meyer full time, Day has yet to lose a game as a head coach.

David Shaw, Stanford (82-26)

Annual Salary: $4,613,707

Conference: Pac-12

Maximum Annual Bonus: N/A

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 3

A fact about the coach: Shaw helped Stanford dominate the Pac-12 North Division this decade, leading the Cardinal to five division championships. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year four times in that span.

Chris Peterson, Washington (47-21)

Annual Salary: $4,625,000

Conference: Pac-12

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,050,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 7

A fact about the coach: In his eight years as head coach at Boise State, Petersen led the Broncos to five conference titles. He left to coach the Huskies in 2013 and led them to a College Football Playoff appearance just four years later.

 Mark Stoops, Kentucky (36-39)

Annual Salary:  $4,763,600

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $2,750,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Stoops comes from a family of coaches; his brother, Bob, is the former head coach at Oklahoma, and his other brother, Mike, was once the head coach at Arizona.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (152-101)

Annual Salary: $4,800,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $2,875,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Ferentz has the longest tenure of any head coach in FBS college football.

Gary Patterson, TCU (167-63)

Annual Salary: $4,900,776

Conference: Big 12

Maximum Annual Bonus: N/A

Championships (conference/national): 6/0

A fact about the coach: Patterson has coached the Horned Frogs since 2000. In his time at the helm, TCU has belonged to four different athletic conferences.

Charlie Strong, South Florida (17-8)

Annual Salary: $5,000,000

Conference: AAC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $815,000

 National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Like many of the head coaches on this list, Strong has traveled far and wide to help some of the nation’s best football schools win. Some of the more recognizable schools on his resume include Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Louisville, and Texas.

Willie Taggert, Florida State (5-7)

Annual Salary: $5,000,000

Conference: ACC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,475,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Taggart made a name for himself transforming South Florida from a 2-10 record in his first year with the program to a 10-2 record in his last three years later. He spent one year at Oregon before taking over Jimbo Fisher’s vacant position with the Seminoles, but he’s since been terminated after some dismal years for the program.

Scott Frost, Nebraska (4-8)

Annual Salary: $5,000,000

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $950,000

National Championships: 1

Conference Championships: 1

A fact about the coach: A collegiate star for the Cornhuskers and an NFL quarterback for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Frost made a name for himself by leading UCF to an undefeated season in 2017 and a school-proclaimed “national championship.”

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State (121-59)

Annual Salary: $5,125,000

Conference: Big 12

Maximum Annual Bonus: $900,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 1

A fact about the coach: Gundy has been the head coach at Oklahoma State since 2005, but he was in hot water during the 2018 season for allegedly threatening to bar local and student media from the team if they asked players about a teammate’s decision to transfer schools.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (96-70)

Annual Salary: $5,144,937

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: N/A

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Fitzgerald was a star linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

James Franklin, Penn State (45-21)

Annual Salary: $5,650,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,000,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 1

A fact about the coach: Franklin inherited a program that was still struggling mightily in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal, but he’s had winning records in all of his seasons at the helm and helped catapult Penn State back among the top teams in the nation.

Dan Mullen, Florida (10-3)

Annual Salary:  $6,070,000

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $925,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 0

A fact about the coach: Before Mullen joined the Florida Gators before the 2018 season, Mullen served as the head coach at Mississippi State University for nine seasons. Under Mullen’s tutelage, the Bulldogs made eight bowl appearances and won three straight bowls during his final three seasons at Mississippi State.

Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma (24-4)

Annual Salary: $6,384,462

Conference: Big 12

Maximum Annual Bonus: $950,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Riley has led the Sooners to back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances, and they could be headed for a third in 2019.

Jeff Brohm, Purdue (13-13)

Annual Salary: $6,600,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $925,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Brohm won back-to-back Conference USA championships with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers before heading to Indiana to coach the Boilermakers. He also spent seven years as an NFL quarterback.

Tom Herman, Texas (17-10)

Annual Salary: $6,750,000

Conference: Big 12

Maximum Annual Bonus: $725,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 1

A fact about the coach: In his two years as head coach in Houston, Herman transformed the Cougars into one of the best college football teams outside of the Power-5 conferences. He then took on head coaching responsibilities at the school where he had one of his first jobs as an assistant coach and led the Longhorns to their first bowl win in five seasons in 2017.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn (53-27)

Annual Salary: $6,827,589

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,400,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Malzahn led Auburn to the BCS Championship game in his first season as head coach at Auburn. The Tigers went on to average 7.5 wins over the next three seasons, but their 10-4 2017 record gave fans some hope that Malzahn could lead Auburn back in the right direction.

Kirby Smart, Georgia (32-10)

Annual Salary: $6,871,600

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,150,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 1

A fact about the coach: Smart began as an administrative assistant with the Georgia football team in 1999. He bounced around various college and NFL assistant coaching positions before returning to the Bulldogs as their head coach in 2015.

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M (9-4)

Annual Salary: $7,500,000

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,500,000

National Championships: 1

Conference Championships: 3

A fact about the coach: Fisher enjoyed incredible success with Florida State, but a whopping 10-year, $75,000,000 contract was enough to lure him to College Station back in 2018.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan (38-14)

Annual Salary: $7,504,000

Conference: Big Ten

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,325,000

National Championships: 0

Conference Championships: 2

A fact about the coach: Harbaugh played quarterback for the Wolverines before enjoying a 14-year career as an NFL player. He began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders before spending six years as a collegiate head coach. He jumped back to the NFL and led the San Francisco 49ers to two NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance in his four years at the helm. He decided to return to his alma mater as head coach in 2015.

Nick Saban, Alabama (146-21)

Annual Salary: $8,857,000

Conference: SEC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,100,000

National Championships: 6

Conference Championships: 9

A fact about the coach: Saban has arguably built the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen. His Crimson Tide has won the National Championship in five of the past nine seasons, and his teams have not had more than two losses in a season since 2011.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson (116-30)

Annual Salary: $9,315,600

Conference: ACC

Maximum Annual Bonus: $1,125,000

National Championships: 2

Conference Championships: 5

A fact about the coach: Nick Saban may be college football royalty, but Swinney has been right up there with the best in recent years. His Tigers have won five ACC championships in his tenure and two national championships in the past three years. With a perfect record in 2019, Clemson could very well be on its way to winning two straight.

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