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Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron are still the highest-paid coaches in college football

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Nick Saban is getting closer and closer to being paid $10 million per season.

Saban is the highest-paid coach in college football, according to USA Today’s salary database, after signing a contract extension over the summer. The Alabama coach’s total pay for the current season is just over $9.7 million. Saban and LSU’s Ed Orgeron are the two coaches with total annual compensation over $9 million and are the highest-paid coaches in college football for a second consecutive season.

Saban’s status as a college football head coach seems more secure than Orgeron’s. LSU is 3-3 so far this season and is a double-digit underdog ahead of Saturday’s game against Florida. The Tigers still have Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Alabama left on the schedule.

Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher is about to be a member of the $9 million club. Texas A&M recently extended his contract and gave him a raise to an average of over $9 million per season. That contract extension came before A&M beat Alabama in Week 6 in the biggest upset of the season so far.

Fisher’s $7.5 million salary before the extension ranks seventh among all coaches and fourth among SEC coaches. Florida’s Dan Mullen is just ahead of him.

Eleven of the SEC’s 14 coaches are in the top 36 in total compensation this season, while Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea isn’t on the chart as private schools aren’t required to release their contracts. The two SEC coaches outside the top 25% in pay are Arkansas’ Sam Pittman at No. 54 and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer at No. 58 of the 122 coaches listed.

Ohio State’s Ryan Day is the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten at $6.6 million. He's No. 9 on the list. He’s ahead of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ($5.8 million) and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker ($5.6 million).

Gary Patterson is second in the Big 12 to Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley ($7.7 million). The TCU coach is making just over $6 million — about $600,000 more than Texas coach Steve Sarkisian.

There are two Pac-12 coaches in the top 12. The third-highest paid coach in the country is Stanford’s David Shaw at just over $8.9 million. Shaw’s salary has exponentially increased since he was making $2.2 million in 2013 and was listed with less than $5 million in total compensation in 2020. The second-highest paid coach in the Pac-12 is UCLA’s Chip Kelly at $5.6 million.

The ACC, meanwhile, has just one coach in the top 20. You don’t need more than one guess to figure out it’s Dabo Swinney either. The Clemson coach is at over $8.3 million this season. Swinney’s compensation is approximately $3.5 million more than any other coach in the conference. Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi is making $4.8 million and is at No. 22 on the list.

Group of Five coach pay not nearly as extravagant

While Power Five coaches are making millions, there are plenty of coaches in Group of Five conferences who aren’t making.

There are 39 coaches of the 122 on the list who are not making $1 million this year. And all of them coach at non-Power Five schools. No. 15 Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell is making $871,000 — less than Middle Tennessee’s Rick Stockstill and Rice’s Mike Bloomgren. Former Tennessee coach Butch Jones is making $825,000 at Arkansas State and former Arizona coach Todd Graham is making $800,000 at Hawaii.

The lowest-paid coach on the list is Terry Bowden at Louisiana-Monroe. He’s making $430,000 this year.

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