Highest-paid college football coaches: Kirby Smart, Nick Saban among the nation's biggest earners

Well, that was quick. Kirby Smart's reign as the highest-paid coach in college football lasted all of 33 days.

His longtime mentor and fellow SEC rival Nick Saban reclaimed the title on Tuesday, inking an eight-year, $93.6 million extension with the Crimson Tide.

Saban's $11.7 million average annual value just edges past Smart's $11.25 million AAV.

Regardless, one thing is certain with the recent extensions of Saban and Smart; the bag in college football is different.

Even in the world of name, image and likeness deals, the buck stops (and starts) with the head coach.

So, how much are the top coaches in the nation getting paid? Sporting News has you covered.

For a little over a month, the answer was Kirby Smart. Smart, who led Georgia to its third-ever national championship, signed a 10-year, $112.5 million deal back in July, making him college football's highest-paid coach by AAV.

Saban's new deal takes the cake with his new deal, though. He'll net $11.7 million per season per the course of his eight-year extension, cementing his status as the sport's most valuable coach in terms of AAV.

It makes for a solid salary bump for Saban, who previously made $9.9 million per season prior to signing the extension

Saban and Smart aren't the only SEC coaches to get a bag. Four of the ten highest earners in college football are SEC coaches.

That's unsurprising given the dominance of the conference in recent years. After all, 12 of the last 15 national champions have come from the conference.

While Saban will make more per season over the course of his contract, it's important to note that his 2022 salary remains fairly similar to the one he had agreed to prior to this offseason.

Saban will bring in $9.9 million in 2022, the same amount he was due to make prior to his contract renewal.

Big Ten coaches are also well-represented in the list of highest-paid earners. Three Big Ten coaches are ranked in the top 10 earners in the sport (Michigan State's Mel Tucker, Ohio State's Ryan Day and Penn State's James Franklin).

That number will only rise once Riley and the Trojans join the conference in 2024. Don't be surprised to see more Big Ten tacticians break into the list as the conference looks to compete with the SEC for the title of toughest competition in college football.

Here's the full list of the ten highest-earning coaches in college football based on 2022 salary. 1. Nick Saban salary: $11.7 million (Alabama) 

2. Kirby Smart salary: $11.25 million (Georgia) 3. Dabo Swinney salary: $10.5 million (Clemson) 

4. Lincoln Riley salary (estimated): $10-plus million (USC) 5. Brian Kelly salary: $9.5 million (LSU) 

6. Mel Tucker salary: $9.5 million (Michigan State) 7. Ryan Day salary: $9.5 million (Ohio State) 

  8. David Shaw salary: $8.925 million 9. Mario Cristobal salary: $8 million (Miami) 

  10. Jimbo Fisher salary: $7.5 million (Texas A&M) 11. Lane Kiffin salary: $7.25 million (Ole Miss) 

  12. Jim Harbaugh salary: $7.05 million (Michigan) 13. James Franklin salary: $7 million (Penn State)  

14. Pat Fitzgerald salary: $5.748 million (Northwestern)

15. Chip Kelly salary: $5.6 million (UCLA)

16. Steve Sarkisian salary: $5.45 million (Texas)


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