Top 10 Highest-Paid Coaches in College Football


Much has been made in recent years about the monetary aspect of college football and college sports in general. It’s estimated that the highest-paid state employee in about half of the United States is the college football coach. College football coaches are being paid more than medical school deans, law school deans and college professors among other notable professions.

This is an interesting aspect of college sports that many people argue is fine because of the large amounts of revenue these teams bring to the schools that they represent. The amount of exposure that these teams bring to their universities justifies the extreme salaries their head coaches get paid.

The highest-paid coaches in college football are men who have worked hard over the years to improve their teams and get ahead of the competition with the aim of qualifying for BCS games. Many of these coaches work so hard that they find themselves moving on to other high-end jobs elsewhere, including jobs within top tier university programs and even contracts in the NFL.

The amount of effort that goes into trying to make it in the world of college football can be a challenge but some coaches have done so well that their salary reflects their success. Sometimes these salaries come from their schools being larger and more capable of rewarding their staff for high levels of performance. Some schools, on the other hand, just don’t have huge budgets. For instance, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey only made $375,000 in 2013, even though his team had been considered to be a BCS upset favourite for a while.

This list of the ten highest-paid coaches for the 2013 college football season includes coaches that are in some high-end programs that can afford to pay extremely high salaries. They also include coaches that have shown a strong amount of success over the years. All statistics are also as of November 21, 2013.

10. Charlie Strong – Louisville – $3.7 Million in 2013

Charlie Strong got a $1.3 million raise in his salary following the 2012 season moving him up to a $3.7 million total for this year. Strong has become one of the college scene’s higher-paid coaches for the Cardinals’ first season in the American Athletic Conference. His current salary makes him the highest-paid coach outside the SEC, Big Ten and Big XII, the conferences to which all the other coaches on this list belong.

9. Kirk Ferentz – Iowa – $4 Million in 2013

Kirk Ferentz has a base salary of around $2 million per season according to his contract with the University of Iowa. The deal is good until the 2020 season but the bonuses he makes as head coach get him paid around double his base salary at $4 million per year. This is due to the fact that Ferentz has been very consistent for the team, holding the same position since 1999, a tenure that is much longer than many other coaches on this list.

8. Brady Hoke – Michigan – $4.15 Million in 2013

Brady Hoke has a 73-60 record in his career with Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan, but it’s his work with the Wolverines that has stood out. Since 2011, the Michigan Wolverines have gone 26-10 with Hoke at the thelm. Hoke made $2 million in his first year with the team and is currently making $4.15 million thanks to his strong coaching skills. His help in snapping a long losing streak against Ohio State in 2011 may have earned him his nice raise.

7. Les Miles – LSU – $4.45 Million in 2013

Since 2005 Les Miles has brought LSU to eight bowl games, building himself a respectable 92-24 record. He has one national title and has done particularly well keeping his Tigers an annual contender. His current contract will run until the end of the 2017 season. His salary was at $3.75 million before his new deal was signed, making him one of the highest-paid coaches for the past decade in the world of college football.

6. Urban Meyer – Ohio State – $4.6 Million in 2013

Urban Meyer coached Florida for six years and has a 127-23 career record with two national championships. He signed a six-year deal in 2012 with The Ohio State University for at least $4 million a year and could have an additional $2.4 million in bonuses under his contract. He has won the first 22 games that he coached with the Buckeyes, although NCAA sanctions stemming from before he was coach caused his team to be unable to compete for the national title in 2012.

5. Bob Stoops – Oklahoma – $4.65 Million in 2013

Bob Stoops is one of the more successful coaches in college football as he has a 157-39 record with the Oklahoma Sooners. He also has eight Big XII titles and one national championship under his belt. However, even with his $4.65 million salary, there have been concerns about how well he does under pressure in BCS bowl games. He has a 3-5 record in bowl games including a loss for the national championship and one loss to Boise State in those games.

4. Butch Jones – Tennessee – $4.8 Million in 2013

Butch Jones left Cincinnati to joint the Tennessee Volunteers in 2013. Although Jones only has a 54-33 record, he earns a $4.8 million annual salary for coaching the Vols. While this is a good amount for any coach, he still had to pay Cincinnati for part of his former contract after leaving the team early. Jones was to be signed until the 2017 season in Cincinnati and had to pay $1.4 million in order to buy it out. Overall, it was a small price to pay for his new deal.

3. Bret Bielema – Arkansas – $5.1 Million in 2013

Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for Arkansas in 2013 for $5.1 million. Bielema has a 71-31 career record but he has struggled in his first year after moving from the Big Ten to the SEC. His current salary is more than twice the $2.5 million he earned in 2011 during his prior contract up in Madison. Bielema’s increased salary comes with the added stress and pressure of competing in the highly competitive SEC.

2. Mack Brown – Texas – $5.4 Million in 2013

Mack Brown has been involved in the world of college football coaching for more than thirty years and has a 157-45 record with the University of Texas Longhorns. He earned $5.4 million in the 2013 season and has earned $5 million per year since 2009. This was controversial in that the university was undergoing a number of budgetary cuts at the time and the increase in Brown’s salary proved to be a questionable decision.

1. Nick Saban – Alabama – $5.6 Million in 2013

Nick Saban has been very successful as the coach of the University of Alabama. His 78-13 record in seven years with the Tide has also led him to three BCS titles. Saban currently earns $5.6 million as a part of his eight-year, $32 million contract. However, there have been ongoing talks about him possibly heading to the University of Texas, although those talks are nothing but rumours at this point.