A college football head coach is arguably the most important position in sports. Unlike other sports that can rely heavily on talent, the college football coach sets the tone for the entire program. Coming up with a weekly game plan is just the start of a college coach’s job. The head coach is also responsible for recruiting, media appearances, fund raising and ensuring key boosters are pleased with the program.
This also means once a university finds an elite head coach, they will do everything in their power to compensate them in as many ways as possible. Michigan has one of the most unique setups where they took out a life insurance policy to essentially get Jim Harbaugh more money. ESPN detailed the interesting constructs of the policy which began prior to the 2016 season.
In addition to paying a $5 million salary for each of the remaining six years on his deal, Michigan also will loan Harbaugh $4 million in 2016 and an additional $2 million for the following five years to pay the premium on a life insurance policy. The first $2 million loan was made June 3, according to records obtained Wednesday via a Freedom of Information Act request. Each additional $2 million payment will be made in December starting later this year.
As long as the insurance policy stays active, Harbaugh does not need to repay the loan until he dies. At that time, the university can recoup its original investment and the rest of the insurance payout would go to whomever Harbaugh chooses as his beneficiaries. Should the policy be stopped at any point, Michigan would still be entitled to get its money back from the insurer.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s foundation paid off Nick Saban’s house. Almost all head coaches’ contracts have incentives that allow the coach to earn more money as they meet different criteria. Some of the common benchmarks are reaching a certain win total, winning the conference, reaching the College Football Playoff and winning a national title.
Every summer, fans are witnesses to the arms race among top programs as different head coaches receive contract extensions. This creates a domino effect as schools do not want to lose their current coach.
The following list is based on data compiled from a number of outlets including the USA Today, CBS Sports, Oregon Live and ESPN. The coaches are listed in order of their 2017 salary. Please note James Franklin’s new contract extension is heavily back-loaded, and will give him a $1 million raise by 2019.
Here’s a look at the highest paid college football head coaches for 2017.
Top 10 Highest Paid College Football Coaches 2017
|Nick Saban, Alabama||$11.125 million||8 years/$65 million|
|Jim Harbaugh, Michigan||$7 million||7 years/$35 million|
|Urban Meyer, Ohio State||$6 million||6 years/ $39 million|
|Dabo Swinney, Clemson||$6 million||8 years/$54 million|
|Jimbo Fisher, Florida State||$5.5 million||8 years/$51 million|
|Tom Herman, Texas||$5.25 million||5 years/$28.75 million|
|Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M||$5 million||6 years/$30 milion|
|Gus Malzahn, Auburn||$4.75 million||5 years/$23.75 million|
|Kirk Ferentz, Iowa||$4.5 million||10 years/$45 million|
|James Franklin, Penn State||$4.3 million||6 years/$32 million|