NCAA

Top-10 highest paid college football coaches


College athletics is a multibillion dollar industry with huge amounts of money falling into the pockets of just about everyone involved — except the players actually participating.

Coaches’ salaries continue to climb, the base amounts are approaching eight figures and the bonus opportunities now written into contracts seem endless. Through the 2019 conference championship weekend, head coaches at FBS public schools have earned nearly $9.5 million in bonuses so far, according to USA TODAY Sports.

For example, LSU coach Ed Orgeron has already earned $1.05 million in bonuses on top of his $4 million annual salary. By beating Georgia in the SEC championship game, he earned $425,000 in bonuses: $200,000 for the Tigers winning the conference championship and another $225,000 for the team making it to the College Football Playoff.

And there’s even more money on the table if he continues winning. He’ll receive $150,000 for winning a playoff semifinal game — LSU plays Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl — and could get $500,000 with a national championship.

Also, because so many coaches are employed by public universities, the highest paid public employee in 39 states is either a college football or basketball coach, according to ESPN.

But how much is that exactly? Here’s a breakdown of the top-10 highest paid college football coaches in 2019, according to USA TODAY Sports‘ salary database.

Note: School pay includes base salary, as well as other school-related sources of income, and all buyout data is as of December 1, 2019.

1. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

School pay: $9,255,000
Maximum bonus: $1,125,000
School buyout: $50,000,000

2. Nick Saban, Alabama

School pay: $8,707,000
Maximum bonus: $1,100,000
School buyout: $34,100,000

3. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

School pay: $7,504,000
Maximum bonus: $1,325,000
School buyout: $11,687,500

4. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M

School pay: $7,500,000
Maximum bonus: $1,500,000
School buyout: $60,625,000

5. Kirby Smart, Georgia

School pay: $6,703,600
Maximum bonus: $1,150,000
School buyout: $24,239,584

6. Gus Malzahn, Auburn

School pay: $6,800,000
Maximum bonus: $1,400,000
School buyout: $27,050,000

7. Tom Herman, Texas

School pay: $6,750,000
Maximum bonus: $725,000
School buyout: $20,416,667

8. Jeff Brohm, Purdue

School pay: $6,600,000
Maximum bonus: $1,290,000
School buyout: $27,650,000

9. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma

School pay: $6,384,462
Maximum bonus: $950,000
School buyout: $21,013,333

10. Dan Mullen, Florida

School pay: $6,070,000
Maximum bonus: $925,000
School buyout: $12,000,000

For more information about college football coaches’ salaries and contracts for the 130 FBS schools, visit USA TODAY Sports’ 2019 NCAAF Coaches Salaries database.

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