Head coaches in college football of a certain age may have grown up watching The Six Million Dollar Man on TV. Increasingly, many of those same coaches are now $6+ million men in real life (minus bionics, of course) as salaries continue to skyrocket across the sport.
USA Today has published their annual database on college football coaching salaries and the treasure trove of numbers is always a must-read for fans of the sport. As you could guess, the numbers continue to get bigger and bigger, led by Alabama head coach’s Nick Saban at $8.3 million in 2018 all the way down to Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Viator at just $390,000.
All told, the paper found that the average salary for a head coach at the FBS level has more than doubled over the past dozen years to $2.6 million. Some 13 head coaches will make more than $5 million in total pay and there are eight who will take home more than $6 million. Saban, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($7.6 million), Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.504 million) and new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million) are in the elite of the elite while fellow ring-holder Dabo Swinney of Clemson will have a paycheck of around $6.5 million.
Perhaps the most surprising figure attached to a name comes in the form of Illinois’ Lovie Smith at an even $5 million and LSU’s Ed Orgeron matching Washington State’s Mike Leach with $3.5 million respectively.
Of more interest to some fan bases than others, buyout figures as of December 1st were also included in the database and they stretch from insane (Fisher’s $68.125 million) to manageable (Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson at $4 million) to paltry (USF’s Charlie Strong is at $192,000) to nothing at all (Mississippi State’s Joe Morehead and Ole Miss’ Matt Luke’s).
We’re still well over a month away from the hot seat machine and coaching carousel getting cranked up so these numbers are all bound to change but, for now, it’s a good window into how the sport is thriving as a result of not having to spend growing sums on the labor used.