There’s Something Peculiar About This List Of The 10 Highest-Paid College Football Coaches

highest paid college football coaches 2021 updated Lincoln Riley

Getty Image / Kevork Djansezian

  • With the College Football coaching carousel in overdrive the past few days there’s a drastically new top 10 list of the highest-paid coaches in CFB
  • But the strange thing about this list is there’s
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The coaching carousel in college football over the past few days (and weeks) has been nothing short of shocking. Coaches starting getting PAID with some massive extensions out of nowhere.

Then the flood gates opened with high-profile coaches leaving high-profile coaching jobs for even higher-profile and the highest-paying jobs in the land. Overnight, Nick Saban became the second-highest-paid coach in college football instead of the first.

Before we get to what’s bugging me about this list, let’s take a look at the highest-paid coaches in college football.

10 Highest-Paid Coaches in College Football


  1. Lincoln Riley, USC, $10+ Million (estimated)
  2. Nick Saban, Alabama, $9.8 Million
  3. Brian Kelly, LSU, $9.5 Million
  4. Mel Tucker, Michigan State, $9.5 Million
  5. David Shaw, Stanford, $8.9 Million
  6. Dabo Swinney, Clemson, $8.4 Million
  7. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M, $7.5 Million
  8. Kirby Smart, Georgia, $7.1 Million
  9. James Franklin, Penn State, $7 Million
  10. Ryan Day, Ohio State, $6.6 Million


Looking at the new list of the 10 highest-paid coaches in college football there’s something that jumps off the page: only 2 of the 10 coaches on this list have won national championships at their current job.

Jimbo Fisher won a natty with Florida State in 2013 before jumping ship for more money in Texas. And that leaves just Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney as the only coaches on that list who have won national championships in their current jobs.

Elsewhere on the list, Lincoln Riley is 0-3 in the College Football Playoffs, Brian Kelly is 0-2 in the College Football Playoffs, Mel Tucker’s never made the CFP and neither has David Shaw. Jimbo Fisher’s team won the 2021 Orange Bowl. James Franklin hasn’t made the playoffs. And Ryan Day is 1-2 in the playoffs.

So taking Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban away from the list, the rest of the coaches are combined 1-7 in the college football playoffs with half the list never even making the playoffs yet. Yet here they are, the highest-paid coaches in the land.

Make it make sense.