Top 25 college football coach salaries exceed $4 million each

Laaiba Mahmood
2 min readOct 8, 2020


Pay for the top earning 25 college football coaches totaled $144,752,708 in 2019.

Of all the college football coach salaries USA Today collected, Clemson University coach Dabo Swinney had the highest salary at $9.3 million in 2019. At the end of the top 25 college football coach salaries, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Paul Chryst earns a total pay of $4.2 million.

By Laaiba Mahmood

Among college football coaches, Clemson University’s Dabo Swinney earns the highest pay at $9.3 million. Making up the remaining top five earners are Nick Saban of Alabama, Jim Harbaugh of Michigan, Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M and Kirby Smart of Georgia.

Divided according to a 40-hour work week, Swinney’s $9.3 million 2019 wage translates to $178,846 per week, $35,769 per day, $4,471 per hour, $74.52 per minute and $1.24 per second. His 2019 hourly earnings are just over 616 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

When the USA Today college football coach salary database was created in 2006, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops was the only coach who made over $3 million. In 2019, 31 college football coaches were paid at least $3 million.

Swinney signed a 10-year, $93 million deal in April 2019 after leading the team to two national championships in three years. The deal is the largest ever seen in the history of college football, and will keep Swinney one of the highest paid coaches in the sport. As long as he stays with the Tigers, Swinney’s salary will increase to $10 million by 2027. His buyout is $50 million as of December 2019, nearly $10 million less than Fisher’s.

Saban had previously topped the list before Swinney, after signing an eight-year, $74.4 million deal to coach through 2025 in 2018. Fisher also signed a $75 million deal to extend his contract with Texas A&M until 2027. Fisher’s buyout is $60.6 million while Saban’s is just over half of that as of December 2019.

Swinney and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops were the only coaches among the top 25 earners to each receive bonuses over $1 million between 2018 and 2019.

While Harbaugh is the only Big Ten coach who ranks in the top five in earnings, coaches from nine of the 14 Big Ten schools are among the 25 highest paid. Their earnings total more than $47.7 million.