6 astonishing numbers from college football coaches’ salary reports


Just after signing a bill allowing Californian college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness beginning in 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he believed it was important to talk about coaches.

Newsom explained that during his time as a member of the University of California Board of Regents, he had the opportunity to look over coaching contracts. He took note of the perks, lofty salaries, bonus provisions such as country club memberships and access to private jets that they receive.

Yeah, that’s enviable. But it’s also revelatory, Newsom said. He also added, “Many of those same coaches are getting a percentage of ticket receipts. And meanwhile, again, these athletes – not only are they not fully integrated into the campus community, but many of them also don’t even have full scholarships.”

Coaching salaries continue to rise as the debate over college athlete compensation continues.
USA TODAY Sports has been analyzing salaries in major-college football since 2006 when only one FBS coach made more than $3 million in total compensation, which translates to about $3.8 million in today’s dollars. This year, nearly one-quarter of those at the 130 FBS schools, about 31 coaches, will clear that threshold.

Here are five other findings from this year’s data:

  • The average total pay for the 122 FBS coaches is $2.67 million, up 9% compared to last season, the largest increase in four years.
  • Ten coaches are making more than $6 million. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney leads the way with $9.32 million in total compensation for 2019-20.
  • In the 14-school Southeastern Conference, the average total pay is $4.95 million. For the first time, there is a league that has all of its coaches making a minimum of $3 million.
  • Thirty-three coaches would be owed eight-figure buyouts if they were fired without a reason on Dec. 1, with 13 of those buyouts exceeding $20 million.
  • Arizona State coach Herm Edwards began the season by being eligible to receive up to $3.97 mn in bonuses in 2019. This would have more than doubled his total base compensation ($2.38 million) for the year.
  • This season, Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban (nearly $8.9 million) each are making more than all of the head coaches in the 12-school Mid-American Conference, combined. The MAC’s combined total is just over $7.75 million.

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