25 highest-paid college football coaches

David J. Phillip/APDabo Swinney — head coach of the reigning champion Clemson Tigers — leads all play callers with a $US9,315,600 salary.

College sports have become a colossal business opportunity, and no one sport is more lucrative than football.

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 2019-20 season, according to USA TODAY:


25. Paul Chryst — $US4,150,000

Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesWisconsin’s Paul Chryst.

School: Wisconsin

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US1,250,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Though Chryst has not won a conference or national championship in his four seasons at the helm in Madison, he has won bowl games in each of those four years.


24. Mark Dantonio — $US4,399,437

Bobby Ellis/Getty ImagesMichigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

School: Michigan State

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US650,000

Championships (conference/national): 3/0

One thing to know: Dantonio has thrice won the Big Ten with the Spartans, and in two of those years, he was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.


23. Will Muschamp — $US4,400,000

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY SportsSouth Carolina’s Will Muschamp.

School: South Carolina

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,400,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Muschamp’s coaching career has taken him to some of the biggest programs in the country, including LSU, Florida, and his alma mater, Auburn. Additionally, the Rome, Georgia, native enjoyed a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.


22. Ryan Day — $US4,500,000

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY SportsOhio State’s Ryan Day.

School: Ohio State

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US800,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Between his three wins as interim head coach of the Buckeyes in 2018 and his perfect start since he’s taken over for Urban Meyer full time, Day has yet to lose a game as a head coach.


21. David Shaw — $US4,613,707

Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesStanford’s David Shaw.

School: Stanford

Conference: Pac-12

Max bonus: N/A

Championships (conference/national): 3/0

One thing to know: Shaw helped Stanford dominate the Pac-12 North Division this decade, leading the Cardinal to five division championships. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year four times in that span.


20. Chris Petersen — $US4,625,000

Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesWashington’s Chris Petersen.

School: Washington

Conference: Pac-12

Max bonus: $US1,050,000

Championships (conference/national): 7/0

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 just four years later.


19. Mark Stoops — $US4,763,600

Butch Dill/Getty ImagesKentucky’s Mark Stoops.

School: Kentucky

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US2,750,000

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Stoops comes from a family of coaches; his brother, Bob, is the former head coach at Oklahoma, and his other brother, Mike, was once the head coach at Arizona.


18. Kirk Ferentz — $US4,800,000

Matthew Holst/Getty ImagesIowa’s Kirk Ferentz.

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.


17. Gary Patterson — $US4,900,776

Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesTCU’s Gary Patterson.

School: TCU

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: N/A

Championships (conference/national): 6/0

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.


16. Charlie Strong — $US5,000,000

Julio Aguilar/Getty ImagesSouth Florida’s Charlie Strong.

School: South Florida

Conference: AAC

Max bonus: $US815,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Like many of the head coaches on this list, Strong has travelled far and wide to help some of the nation’s best football schools win. Some of the more recognisable schools on his resume include Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Louisville, and Texas.


15. Willie Taggart — $US5,000,000

Melina Myers-USA TODAY SportsFSU former head coach Willie Taggart.

School: Florida State

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, but he’s since been terminated after some dismal years for the program.


14. Scott Frost — $US5,000,000

Steven Branscombe/Getty ImagesNebraska’s Scott Frost.

School: Nebraska

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US950,000

Championships (conference/national): 1/1

One thing to know: A collegiate star for the Cornhuskers and an NFL quarterback for the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Frost made a name for himself by leading UCF to an undefeated season in 2017 and a school-proclaimed “national championship.”


13. Mike Gundy — $US5,125,000

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsOklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.

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.


12. Pat Fitzgerald — $US5,144,937

Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsNorthwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.

School: Northwestern

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: N/A

Championships (conference/national): 0/0

One thing to know: Fitzgerald was a star linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.


11. James Franklin — $US5,650,000

Getty ImagesPenn State’s James Franklin.

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 of his seasons at the helm and helped catapult Penn State back among the top teams in the nation.


10. Dan Mullen — $US6,070,000

Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsFlorida’s Dan Mullen.

School: Florida

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US925,000

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.


9. Lincoln Riley — $US6,384,462

Brett Deering/Getty ImagesOklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

School: Oklahoma

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: $US950,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Riley has led the Sooners to back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances, and they could be headed for a third in 2019.


8. Jeff Brohm — $US6,600,000

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY SportsPurdue’s Jeff Brohm.

School: Purdue

Conference: Big Ten

Max bonus: $US925,000

Championships (conference/national): 2/0

One thing to know: Brohm won back-to-back Conference USA championships with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers before heading to Indiana to coach the Boilermakers. He also spent seven years as an NFL quarterback.


7. Tom Herman — $US6,750,000

Tim Warner/Getty ImagesTexas’ Tom Herman.

School: Texas

Conference: Big 12

Max bonus: $US725,000

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 then 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.


6. Gus Malzahn — $US6,827,589

Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesAuburn’s Gus Malzahn.

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.


5. Kirby Smart — $US6,871,600

Michael Chang/Getty ImagesGeorgia’s Kirby Smart.

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.


4. Jimbo Fisher — $US7,500,000

Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesTexas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.

School: Texas A&M

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,500,000

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 back in 2018.


3. Jim Harbaugh — $US7,504,000

Gregory Shamus/GettyMichigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

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. Nick Saban — $US8,857,000

Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesAlabama’s Nick Saban.

School: Alabama

Conference: SEC

Max bonus: $US1,100,000

Championships (conference/national): 9/6

One thing to know: Saban has arguably built 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.


1. Dabo Swinney — $US9,315,600

Associated PressClemson’s Dabo Swinney.

School: Clemson

Conference: ACC

Max bonus: $US1,125,000

Championships (conference/national): 5/2

One thing to know: Nick Saban may be college football royalty, but Swinney has been right up there with the best in recent years. His Tigers have won five ACC championships in his tenure and two national championships in the past three years. With a perfect record in 2019, Clemson could very well be on its way to winning two straight.


Now check out who to watch out for this college basketball season:

David Butler II/ReutersMarquette’s Markus Howard.

The top 15 players to watch this college basketball season, ranked

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