Updated by Will Whitmore on September 17, 2021
The Southeastern Conference continues to excel on the field: 12 of the last 16 college football champions hail from the SEC. But does that success translate to the pocketbooks of coaches? This article dives into the head coach salaries of all 14 coaches in college football’s most dominant conference.
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M University
A former national champion at Florida State University, Fisher cashed in by signing a 10-year, $75 million deal with Texas A&M starting in the 2018-19 season. After leading the Aggies to a 9-1 record including a win in the Orange Bowl, the Aggies rewarded Fisher by giving him a four-year extension that includes a $9,000,000 annual salary. Fisher is now the second highest paid coach in the country behind Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban.
Nick Saban, University of Alabama
Boasting seven national championships, including six in the last 12 seasons, Saban has quite the leverage to ask for a handsome payday. And, yes, it’s very handsome. Saban received a lucrative contract extension following the Crimson Tide’s 2021 National Championship campaign as Saban signed an extension that keeps him in Tuscaloosa through the 2028 season. Saban is set to make an average of $10,600,000 through the lifetime of his contract and some incentives include $400,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff and a $800,000 reward for winning the national championship.
Bryan Harsin, Auburn University
Hired by Auburn to replace Gus Malzahn in December 2020, Bryan Harsin joined the Tigers from Boise State. His starting salary was reported as $5 million, with $100,000 increases each January 1st of the six-year contract term. He can earn several performance-based bonuses: $100,000 for winning the SEC West, $250,000 for winning an SEC championship, $200,000 for a New Year’s Six bowl appearance, $300,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff, $400,000 for reaching the national title game and $800,000 for winning the national championship.
Kirby Smart, University of Georgia
Smart faced immense pressure to win immediately when he was hired to replace Mark Richt before the 2016-17 season. The Bulldogs’ coach has delivered on the field with four New Years Six Bowl appearances and one SEC title. Smart signed an extension in 2018 that runs through 2024-25. Smart make $49 million total and $7 million annually. Additionally, Smart will make up to $1.1 in bonuses. Maybe that extra incentive will fuel Smart to lead Georgia to its coveted first national championship since 1980.
Ed Orgeron, Louisiana State University
Orgeron’s bayou Tigers put together one of the most impressive campaigns in college football history in 2019-20, and you bet he cashed in for it. Orgeron, once just the interim head coach at LSU, signed a new, shiny deal at the beginning of the 2020-21 season: a six-year, $42 million deal paying him $7 million annually. Oregeron’s deal also gives him a $5 million insurance policy.
Dan Mullen, University of Florida
Formerly at Mississippi State University, Mullen has helped revamp Florida’s program into a national contender since he joined as head coach before the 2018-19 season. Mullen’s potent offense dominated SEC opponents in 2020 as the Gators almost shocked Alabama in a 52-46 shootout in last December’s SEC Championship Game. The Gators extended Mullen through 2026 following Florida’s successful 2020 campaign and Mullen is set to earn $7,600,000 annually over the next six seasons. The extension is a $1,500,000 raise from Mullen’s previous contract with Florida.
Mark Stoops, University of Kentucky
Stoops has left his mark on Kentucky since joining as the head coach before the 2013-14 season. Stoops’s most recent contract was signed before the 2019-20 season and pays him $32.25 million over five years. The Wildcats’ coach will earn $5.375 million annually through 2024-25, plus a chance to earn up to $1 million annually in bonuses and $250,000 for every win over nine games.
Shane Beamer, University of South Carolina
First-time head coach Shane Beamer signed a five-year contract worth $13.75 million with South Carolina in December 2020. His $2.75 million annual salary is a combination of a $1.1 million base salary and $1.65 million from outside rights holders.
Beamer is eligible for a $200,000 bonus for an SEC Championship, $250,000 for winning the SEC Championship and $1 million for winning the national championship. He can also earn a $75,000 bonus for being named SEC Coach of the Year and $125,000 for being named national coach of the year.
Josh Heupel, University of Tennessee
Josh Heupel followed AD Danny White from UCF in January 2021, signing a six-year $4 million contract. With previous head coach Jeremy Pruitt being fired for cause following an investigation that revealed recruiting violations, Heupel’s contract also has a clause that would add a seventh year to the contract if Tennessee receives a postseason ban of two or more years and/or a scholarship reduction of eight or more.
There are a number of bonuses in the deal, including $100,000 for winning the SEC East, $300,000 for winning the SEC, $300,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff, another $400,000 for appearing in the national championship and $500,000 for winning a national title.
Eli Drinkwitz, University of Missouri
Drinkwitz is in his second year of his six-year $24,000,000 contract after leading Appalachian State to a 12-1 record in his first year as a head coach. Drinkwitz will make $4 million annually until 2025-26, but has a bonus of up to $850,000 per year (the lowest maximum bonus in the conference).
Mike Leach, Mississippi State University
Leach is another newcomer to the SEC, but he certainly isn’t a new face in college football. After long tenures at Texas Tech and Washington State, Leach’s high-powered offensive background joined the SEC in 2020 at the tune of $20 million over four seasons. He’ll earn $5 million per year until 2023-24 with an opportunity to earn up to $1.4 in bonuses annually.
Lane Kiffin, University of Mississippi
Kiffin finds himself back in the SEC after a short stint as the head coach of Florida Atlantic University, but instead of coaching under Nick Saban, Kiffin has the lead role at Ole Miss. After a successful 2020 campaign that was capped of with an Outback Bowl victory over No. 11 Indiana, Kiffin was awarded a new contract in 2021 and is set to make $4,500,000 with a $500,000 retention bonus. Kiffin’s salary increases each year up until 2024 with the former Alabama offensive coordinator set to make $5,750,000 in 2024.
Sam Pittman, University of Arkansas
Pittman enters the second year of his contract after struggling in his rookie season. His five-year deal is worth $15 million total, good for an annual value of $3 million. Pittman will look to bring his experience as Georgia’s offensive line coach to Arkansas, a program needing some revitalization after two straight years without a win in the SEC. If Pittman is successful with the Razorbacks, he could earn a yearly bonus of up to $1.325 million.
Clark Lea, Vanderbilt University
Lea was hired in 2021 and is Vanderbilt’s 29th head coach in the program’s history. A Vanderbilt alum, Lea served as the Notre Dame defensive coordinator over the past three seasons. The details of his contract were not released, but Lea looks to lead his alma mater to their first bowl victory since 2013.
We’re discussing more college football coaching salaries from other conferences here.
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