Alabama lured Nick Saban back to college football in January 2007 with an eight-year, $32-million contract. Even when adjusted for inflation, that deal would be worth approximately $45.7 million in 2022 dollars, an average of $5.7 million per season.
Saban will make double that amount – not including incentives and other benefits – in 2022 as he chases a seventh national championship in 16 years as Crimson Tide head coach. And he’s favored to do so, sitting atop futures odds in college football betting.
Here are the highest-paid college football coaches (not including incentives and other benefits) for 2022:
Highest-Paid College Football Coaches, 2022
|1||Nick Saban||Alabama||$10.7 million|
|2||Kirby Smart||Georgia||$10.25 million|
|3||Lincoln Riley||USC||$10 million|
|4(t)||Mel Tucker||Michigan State||$9.5 million|
|4(t)||Ryan Day||Ohio State||$9.5 million|
|4(t)||Brian Kelly||LSU||$9.5 million|
|7||Jimbo Fisher||Texas A&M||$9.5 million|
|7(t)||David Shaw||Stanford||$9 million|
|9||Dabo Swinney||Clemson||$8.37 million|
|10||Mario Cristobal||Oregon||$8 million|
1. Nick Saban – $10.7 million
Saban signed a new eight-year deal in August worth $93.6 million in base annual compensation. His annual base salary is still low six figures but a talent fee, which comprises most of his annual compensation, is $9.595 million for 2022.
2. Kirby Smart – $10.25 million
After signing a 10-year, $112.5-million extension in July, Kirby Smart was set to be college football’s highest-paid coach for the first time in his career.
One month later, his former boss Nick Saban, whom he defeated in the national championship game in January, regained the honor.
3. Lincoln Riley – $10 million
Clay Helton’s buyout always remained a mystery. As a private institution, USC wasn’t required to disclose terms of Helton’s deal, nor are they required to disclose terms of Lincoln Riley’s deal, which once again has left insiders digging for sources.
Several reports have agreed Lincoln Riley signed a 10-year, $110-million deal that pays him an estimated $10 million in 2022.
4(t). Mel Tucker – $9.5 million
Michigan State went all-in on Mel Tucker in November 2021 as they fended off advances from LSU and potentially other (future) suitors. Tucker’s 10-year, $95-million deal is fully guaranteed if he’s fired before the end of the contract.
4(t). Ryan Day – $9.5 million
Ryan Day signed an extension in May 2022 that included a $1.9-million raise. He was set to make $7.6 million in his fourth full season as head coach.
4(t). Brian Kelly – $9.5 million
Brian Kelly’s 10-year contract includes just $400,000 in annual base salary but $8.6 million in supplemental compensation for 2022, an amount that increases by $200,000 each year, and $500,000 as an annual retention bonus.
7(t). Jimbo Fisher – $9 million
Jimbo Fisher signed a four-year extension in August 2021 that replaced his original 10-year, $75-million deal and now ties him to Texas A&M through the 2031 season.
7(t). David Shaw – $9 million
Like USC, Stanford isn’t required to disclose salary information for longtime head coach David Shaw. However, USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz discovered Shaw’s 2019 total compensation was $8.5 million, and other reports suggest it’s approximately $9 million in 2022.
The buyout remains unknown, which could be a factor as Shaw potentially sits on the college football hot seat.
9. Dabo Swinney – $8.37 million
Dabo Swinney hasn’t signed a new deal since April 2019, four months removed from winning his second national championship in the last three years.
Swinney’s 10-year, $93-million deal calls for guaranteed compensation of $8.37 million in 2022.
10. Mario Cristobal – $8 million
Instead of signing a new contract at Oregon that would increase his annual salary from approximately $5 million to $7-8 million, Mario Cristobal signed a new contract at Miami (FL) that pays him $8 million annually over 10 years.
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