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.
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:
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