Jim Harbaugh's yearly $9 million contract makes him the nation's highest-paid coach

Dr. Saturday

Nick Saban is no longer the nation’s highest-paid college football coach.

According to USA Today’s annual release of coaching salaries, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will earn more than $9 million in 2016 ($9,004,000). That’s a big jump from a year ago, when Harbaugh was making $7,004,000 and trailed Saban by less than $100,000.

Part of the jump is thanks to a life insurance loan Harbaugh agreed to back in August. In that contract restructuring, Harbaugh makes $5 million as a base salary and then an additional $4 million as a loan against a premium on a life insurance policy taken out by the university. Harbaugh then receives an additional $2 million for each of the next five years as part of the loan. The $4 million he receives in 2016 is paid in increments. He received $2 million on June 3 and will receive the other $2 million if he’s still the Wolverines’ coach on Dec. 6.

Jim Harbaugh is now the nation’s highest-paid coach.
Jim Harbaugh is now the nation’s highest-paid coach.

Saban, who has long been the salary torchbearer on this yearly list, is second with $6,939,395, followed by Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($6,003,000), Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($5,550,000) and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher ($5,250,000).

Charlie Strong, whose job security is in question at Texas, ranks sixth on the list with a salary of $5,200,000. Houston’s Tom Herman, the most sought-after Group of Five coach, is making $3,003,500, which ranks 35th on the list.

New Mexico State’s Doug Martin is listed as the lowest-paid coach at $376,044, but nine schools — Baylor, BYU, Tulane, SMU, USC, Tulsa, Pittsburgh, Miami and Syracuse — did not submit contract information to USA Today.

While the coaching salaries are interesting (and some a tad ridiculous), the more interesting story in USA Today’s presentation is how much it would cost to fire a coach.

For example, if Florida State wanted to part ways with Jimbo Fisher, it would cost the school $33,125,000. Kirk Ferentz, who has been on the hot seat for seemingly 10 years, has a buyout of $25,304,167. No wonder Iowa has been so reluctant to part ways with him. On the flip side, San Diego State can get rid of coach Rocky Long for the bargain price of $349,334.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the number of years left on the contract and a variety of other things, but it’s still interesting to see how well some of these coaches would make out just by sucking at their jobs. Don’t we all wish we had similar out clauses.

Here’s a look at the Top 25 highest paid coaches in college football:

Rank

Coach

School

Total pay

1

Jim Harbaugh

Michigan

$9,004,000

2

Nick Saban

Alabama

$6,939,395

3

Urban Meyer

Ohio State

$6,094,800

4

Bob Stoops

Oklahoma

$5,550,000

5

Jimbo Fisher

Florida State

$5,250,000

6

Charlie Strong

Texas

$5,200,130

7

Kevin Sumlin

Texas A&M

$5,000,000

8

Gus Malzahn

Auburn

$4,729,500

9

Hugh Freeze

Ole Miss

$4,703,500

10 (tie)

Kirk Ferentz

Iowa

$4,500,000

10 (tie)

James Franklin

Penn State

$4,500,000

12

Dabo Swinney

Clemson

$4,422,700

13

Les Miles

LSU

$4,385,567

14

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State

$4,300,000

15

Jim McElwain

Florida

$4,268,325

16

Dan Mullen

Mississippi State

$4,200,000

17

Bret Bielema

Arkansas

$4,145,000

18

Butch Jones

Tennessee

$4,110,000

19

David Shaw

Stanford

$4,067,219

20

Gary Patterson

TCU

$4,014,723

21

Bobby Petrino

Louisville

$3,910,434

22

Mike Gundy

Oklahoma State

$3,775,000

23

Kirby Smart

Georgia

$3,753,600

24

Kyle Wittingham

Utah

$3,650,000

25

Chris Petersen

Washington

$3,605,847

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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