Skip to main content

Nick Saban tops CFB coaching salaries at more than $7 million


Coaching major college football has its drawbacks, but few can deny it's quite the lucrative career path.

Nick Saban once again topped the annual USA Today database of college football coaches' salaries following a raise this past offseason, when he was linked to the Texas coaching vacancy. The Crimson Tide's head coach received a raise of nearly $1.6 million a year to bring his total pay to $7,160,187 for 2014.

Checking in at No. 2 on the list -- but with a significantly lower salary -- is a Saban protégé, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, at a little more than $5.6 million. The database includes coaching bonuses, which is why the Spartans' Rose Bowl-winning head coach finds himself second on the list after a longevity bonus from the school.

In contrast to past years, the top 10 is not overly stocked with coaches from the SEC, but the conference does sport the highest average salary for its coaches when compared to other leagues. The SEC and Big Ten both landed four coaches in the top 10, with the Big 12 taking up the other two spots. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Texas' Charlie Strong round out the top five -- they all make a little more than $5 million a year.

Eleven FBS head coaches are making at least $4 million this season (eight did last season), according to the figures published by USA Today, which is nearly three times as many who made that much four years ago. The average salary for those on the list is an impressive $1.95 million in 2014.

Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville is the highest paid non-Power Five coach at $2.2 million, followed closely by former SMU coach June Jones at $2 million. Washington's Chris Petersen, who was lured to the school after years of success at Boise State, was the highest paid Pac-12 coach on the list.

Private schools, such as Notre Dame, BYU, Stanford and USC, did not have to disclose salaries for their head coaches, but most believe those like Notre Dame's Brian Kelly and USC's Steve Sarkisian are well compensated for their efforts.

Saban has topped the annual list nearly every season since he left the Miami Dolphins to coach at Alabama back in 2007. His latest raise puts the college coach in the same club as all but the two or three of the highest-paid NFL coaches.

Here's a look at what else stood out from the list:

Most overpaid coaches

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Salary: $4.075 million
The skinny: Ferentz ends up labeled as one of the most overpaid coaches in the country every year. That's with good reason, as he's finished second or higher in the Big Ten only once in the past decade. A losing record against Iowa State doesn't help his cause either.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Salary: $2.6 million
The skinny: The Red Raiders' head coach received a raise and extension before the season, and it appears that was a mistake. He still has plenty of upside at just 35 years old, but he has a losing record and only one win over a team with a winning record in his nearly two seasons on the job. That makes him overpaid.

Charlie Weis, Kansas
Salary: $2.5 million
The skinny: The king of the buyout life earned more than $2 million per win at Kansas. There's a reason he's looking for work and his agent is buying a new house.

Most underpaid coaches

Matt Wells, Utah State
Salary: $575,000
The skinny: Wells helped the team win its division last year and led the Aggies to nine wins despite losing star quarterback Chuckie Keeton. He's arguably doing an even better job this season, posting eight wins despite replacing a ton of starters and having four different quarterbacks score a victory this year.

David Cutcliffe, Duke
Salary: $1.84 million
The skinny: The Blue Devils have become a football school thanks to Cutcliffe (OK, maybe not). He still has the team in position to win back-to-back division titles in the ACC, which is a remarkable accomplishment if you know the school's history in football.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Salary: $2 million
The skinny: The Ducks' second-year coach is ninth in salary among Pac-12 coaches and makes slightly less than Mike MacIntyre at Colorado. This, despite having Oregon in national title contention once again with a very demanding fan base in the Pacific Northwest.

In line for biggest raises

Justin Fuente, Memphis
Salary: $1 million
The skinny: The Tigers once were the worst team in the FBS, and by a wide margin. Fuente has turned the team into AAC contenders in short order and could get the team to a major bowl game. He is a prime candidate to take a Power Five job and grab a big raise this offseason.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Salary: $3 million
The skinny: Arguably the most successful Bulldogs coach in school history, Mullen guided the team to a No. 1 ranking and has turned the program around. He's 10th in salary among SEC coaches, but is in line for a huge raise from MSU ... or another program.

Doc Holliday, Marshall
Salary: $609,000
The skinny: It's possible that the Thundering Herd will finish as the only undefeated FBS team in the country this season, and Holliday's guidance in turning around Marshall will have him on the radar of a lot of major programs.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content