How Do College Football Coaches Rank Financially?

Coaches, Finance, Football
Texas Coach Mack Brown via WikiMedia Commons (user: Corpx)

There’s plenty of commentary out there about which coaches make the most money, but which bring in the most for their program? Yesterday, I told you about the money I think Bob Huggins brought into Kansas State. Today we’re going to look at which college football coaches have seen the highest revenues during their tenure.

I’ve told you previously about Coaches By The Numbers. My friends over there (who have the most amazing statistical data you’ve ever seen regarding coaches) have ranked coaches for the time period of 2003-2009 by average football revenue during the years they coached at the school. Here are the top ten:

  Coach Team Years  Avg. Football Revenue 
1 Mack Brown Texas 7  $    68,559,884.00
2 Gene Chizik Auburn 1  $    66,162,720.00
3 Nick Saban Alabama 3  $    64,620,511.00
4 Urban Meyer Florida 5  $    61,618,057.00
5 Charlie Weis Notre Dame 5  $    61,618,057.00
6 Jim Tressel Ohio State 7  $    59,296,706.00
7 Mark Richt Georgia 7  $    59,184,075.00
8 Rich Rodriguez Michigan 2  $    57,717,721.00
9 Lane Kiffin Tennessee 1  $    56,593,946.00
10 Les Miles LSU 5  $    54,209,424.00

Now obviously there are a number of other factors that come into play in terms of football revenue from the size of the stadium to how many home games the team has that season. So, the most interesting thing about this data set is to look at coaches who spent time at the same school:

Alabama: Nick Saban $64,620,511 vs. Mike Shula $45,109,406

Auburn: Gene Chizik $66,162,720 vs. Tommy Tuberville $50,742,163

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier $48,028,921 vs. Lou Holtz $16,758,542

Notre Dame: Charlie Weis $61,201,194 vs. Tyrone Willingham $40,175,454

Tennessee: Lane Kiffin $56,593,946 vs. Phillip Fulmer $36,337,856

Florida: Urban Meyer $61,618,057 vs. Ron Zook $43,014,304

Michigan State: Mark Dantonio $43,931,899 vs. John Smith $31,381,946

Nebraska: Bo Pelini $52,577,417 vs. Frank Solich $30,231,643

There are also situations where a change in coaching doesn’t seem to effect finances at all:

Washington: Tyrone Willingham $34,187,897 vs. Steve Sarkisian $33,919,639

Nebraska: Frank Solich $30,231,643 vs. Bill Callahan $29,604,585

Again, there are a number of other factors at play, but it’s interesting to try and measure how a coach can change the financial picture for a program. Do you think these numbers prove anything or are they just a product of natural increases in revenue for each program?

*Numbers are from data submitted by each school to the U.S. Department of Education.


  • People often get upset when coaches garner large contracts from collegiate football teams, but the simple truth is, landing the right coach for a program can change things drastically. High profile coaches bring in elite players. Boosters want to donate. Stadiums can be upgraded, money is available for practice facilities, infrastructure is improved. All that brings in even higher profile recruits because they can enjoy elite coaching in top flight facilities.

    As a South Carolina alumni, I have watched drastic improvements in the athletics program since Spurrier’s arrival and it spills over into other sports including a new baseball field, academic enrichment center for student-athletes, new training facilities, a new basketball arena, improvements to the football field, and various other projects that were once unaffordable for the program. While the athletes do not see cash in their pocket, they do benefit from these elite facilities, elite coaches, and get a free education.

    Great article.

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