The 25 highest-paid college football coaches

Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama head coach Nick Saban leads the pack, earning $US8,307,000 for the 2018-19 season.

College sports have become a colossal business opportunity, and no one sport is more lucrative than football. The five universities with the greatest total revenues in college sports – all of which boast renowned football programs – brought in $US194,336,118 on average during the 2016-17 school year.

It makes sense, then, that schools looking to make their mark in the college football sphere would be willing to pay seven figures for the best coaching talent in the sport. Check out the 25 highest paid football coaches for the 2018-19 season, according to USA TODAY:


25. Bobby Petrino — $US3,980,434

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

School: Louisville

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: $US1,472,917

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Petrino first became the head coach at Louisville in 2003, but three years later he left to accept an opportunity to coach the Atlanta Falcons. His NFL coaching career was shortlived, and in 2014 he returned to coach the Cardinals.


24. Justin Fuente — $US4,000,000

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

School: Virginia Tech

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: $US435,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: Fuente played quarterback at Oklahoma and in the Arena Football League before beginning his coaching career.


23. Mark Stoops — $US4,013,600

Butch Dill/Getty Images

School: Kentucky

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US3,100,000

Championships (conference/national):0/0

One thing to know: Stoops’ brother Bob is the former head coach at Oklahoma, and his other brother, Mike, was once the head coach at Arizona.


22. Mark Richt — $US4,058,061

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

School: Miami (Fla.)

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: Unknown

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Richt played quarterback at Miami from 1978-1982 but spent 10 years at FSU and 14 years at Georgia before returning to his alma mater.


21. Will Muschamp — $US4,200,000

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

School: South Carolina

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,400,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Muschamp led Florida to three winning seasons in his four years at the helm. Two years later, he was given the head coaching position at South Carolina.


20. David Shaw — $US4,311,543

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

School: Stanford

Conference: Pac-12

Max bonus: Unknown

Championships (conference/national): 3/0

One thing to know: Shaw spent four years as Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator at Stanford before Harbaugh decided to take the head coaching position for the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. Shaw has been the head coach for the Cardinal ever since.


19. Chris Petersen — $US4,375,000

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

School: Washington

Conference: Pac-12

Max bonus: $US1,050,000

Championships (conference/national): 6/0

One thing to know: In his eight years as head coach at Boise State, Petersen led the Broncos to five conference titles. He left to coach the Huskies in 2013 and led them to a College Football Playoff appearance four years later.


18. Mark Dantonio — $US4,390,417

Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

School: Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US650,000

Championships (conference/national): 3/0

One thing to know: Dantonio has been at the helm longer than all but two current Big Ten coaches, but he’s paid less than six of them.


17. Kirk Ferentz — $US4,700,000

Matthew Holst/Getty Images

School: Iowa

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US2,875,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Ferentz has the longest tenure of any head coach in FBS college football.


16. Lincoln Riley — $US4,800,000

Brett Deering/Getty Images

School: Oklahoma

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: $US700,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: In his first season as a head coach, Riley led the Sooners to a 12-2 record and a Rose Bowl victory.


15. James Franklin — $US4,800,000

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

School: Penn State

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US1,000,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: Franklin inherited a program that was still struggling mightily in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal, but he’s had winning records in all four of his seasons at the helm and helped catapult Penn State back among the top teams in the nation.


14. Gary Patterson — $US4,840,717

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

School: TCU

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: Unknown

Championships (conference/national): 7/0

One thing to know: Patterson has coached the Horned Frogs since 2000. In his time at the helm, TCU has belonged to four different athletic conferences.


13. Lovie Smith — $US5,000,000

School: Illinois

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US1,000,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Smith spent 11 years as a head coach in the NFL, including nine with the Chicago Bears, before beginning his tenure with Illinois in 2016.


12. Willie Taggart — $US5,000,000

School: FSU

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: $US1,475,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Taggart made a name for himself transforming South Florida from a 2-10 record in his first year with the program to a 10-2 record in his last three years later. He spent one year at Oregon before taking over Jimbo Fisher’s vacant position with the Seminoles.


11. Mike Gundy — $US5,000,000

Tim Warner/Getty Images

School: Oklahoma State

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: $US900,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: Gundy has been the head coach at Oklahoma State since 2005, but he was in hot water during the 2018 season for allegedly threatening to bar local and student media from the team if they asked players about a teammate’s decision to transfer schools.


10. Scott Frost — $US5,000,000

Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

School: Nebraska

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US950,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: In his second year as head coach at UCF, Frost led the Knights to a perfect 13-0 record and a self-proclaimed national championship. He left to coach at his alma mater in 2018.


9. Tom Herman — $US5,500,000

School: Texas

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: $US750,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: In his two years as head coach in Houston, Herman transformed the Cougars into one of the best college football teams outside of the Power-5 conferences. He took on head coaching responsibilities at the school where he had one of his first jobs as an assistant coach and led the Longhorns to their first bowl win in five seasons in 2017.


8. Dan Mullen — $US6,070,000

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

School: Florida

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US920,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Before joining the Gators in the swamp in 2018, Mullen was the head coach at Mississippi State for nine years, leading them to eight bowl appearances and three straight bowl wins in his final three seasons there.


7. Dabo Swinney — $US6,543,350

Harry How/Getty

School: Clemson

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: $US1,125,000

Championships (conference/national): 4/1

One thing to know: Swinney was a wide receiver for the 1992 Alabama National Championship team. He also started his coaching career as a receivers coach with the Crimson Tide but was fired with the rest of head coach Mike DuBose’s staff in early 2001. He joined the ranks at Clemson the following year.


6. Kirby Smart — $US6,603,600

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

School: Georgia

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,150,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/0

One thing to know: Smart began as an administrative assistant with the Georgia football team in 1999. He bounced around various college and NFL assistant coaching positions before returning to the Bulldogs as their head coach in 2015.


5. Gus Malzahn — $US6,705,656

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

School: Auburn

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,400,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Malzahn led Auburn to the BCS Championship game in his first season as head coach at Auburn. The Tigers went on to average 7.5 wins over the next three seasons, but their 10-4 2017 record gave fans some hope that Malzahn could lead Auburn back in the right direction.


4. Jimbo Fisher — $US7,500,000

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

School: Texas A&M

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,350,000

Championships (conference/national): 3/1

One thing to know: Fisher enjoyed incredible success with Florida State, but a whopping 10-year, $US75,000,000 contract was enough to lure him to College Station.


3. Jim Harbaugh — $US7,504,000

Gregory Shamus/Getty

School: Michigan

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US1,325,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Harbaugh played quarterback for the Wolverines before enjoying a 14-year career as an NFL player. He began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders before spending six years as a collegiate head coach. He jumped back to the NFL and led the San Francisco 49ers to two NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance in his four years at the helm. He decided to return to his alma mater as head coach in 2015.


2. Urban Meyer — $US7,600,000

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

School: Ohio State

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US775,000

Championships (conference/national): 6/3

One thing to know: After leading the Buckeyes to a strong 2017 campaign -including 12 wins and a College Football Playoff appearance – Meyer began the 2018 season with a three-game suspension for mishandling domestic violence accusations against his former assistant coach.


1. Nick Saban — $US8,307,000

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

School: Alabama

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,100,000

Championships (conference/national): 10/6

One thing to know: Saban has arguably assembled the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen. His Crimson Tide has won the National Championship in five of the past nine seasons, and his teams have not had more than two losses in a season since 2011.


Now check out the NFL players who have made the most money.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty

The 29 NFL players who have made at least $US100 million in their careers

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