Skip to main content

The 5 Highest-Paid Head Coaches In College Football

USC cheerleaders performing during a game.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In this day and age a college football coach who can win a national title is basically worth his own weight in gold. If you need an further proof of this, just look at how lucrative some coaching contracts are.

Heading into 2022, there are over a dozen coaches making upwards of $7 million per year. One coach is believed to be making a whopping $10 million this coming year.

As you would expect Alabama head coach Nick Saban, arguably the greatest college football coach of all-time, is high up on the list. But he isn't the top earner this coming year.

That title belongs to newly-minted USC head coach Lincoln Riley. The Trojans had to pay an arm and a leg to pry Riley out of Oklahoma - another powerhouse college program.

Here are the highest-paid head coaches in college football (via 247Sports):

T-5. David Shaw, Stanford, $9 million (est)
T-5. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M, $9 million
T-3. Mel Tucker, Michigan State, $9.5 million
T-3. Brian Kelly, LSU, $9.5 million
2. Nick Saban, Alabama, $9.9 million (est)
1. Lincoln Riley, USC, $10 million (est)

That's a who's who of coaches who have either won titles, gotten within a hair of winning title or have simply taken their programs to new heights.

David Shaw found tons of success early in his Stanford tenure as the follow-up to Jim Harbaugh. But over the last four years, his teams have finished third in the Pac-12 North or worse.

Jimbo Fisher won a national title at Florida State but has yet to bring Texas A&M to the SEC Championship Game. But the Aggies will be hard-pressed to find anyone who can that isn't already a top head coach somewhere else.

Mel Tucker might be the most controversial name on the list given how little he accomplished before joining the Spartans in 2020. But after leading Michigan State to a No. 8 finish and Peach Bowl win, he's earning his keep.

Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley are being paid for what they're expected to do after very successful tenures at Notre Dame and Oklahoma respectively.

As for Nick Saban, his resume speaks for itself.