The Southeastern Conference continues to excel on the field: 11 of the last 15 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 one of college football’s most dominant conferences.
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. Fisher will make $7.5 million annually, before bonuses, through the 2027-28 season. Fisher’s deal makes him the richest coach in the conference — from a total value standpoint — and places him second in college football behind Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. Fisher can also earn an additional $1.5 million in bonuses per year.
Nick Saban, University of Alabama
Boasting six national championships, including five in the last 11 seasons, Saban has quite the leverage to ask for a handsome payday. And, yes, it’s very handsome. Saban received his most recent extension before the 2018-19 season, paying him $74 million but $9.25 million annually. His annual amount is $1.75 million more than anyone else in the SEC and is second to only Swinney, who makes $9.3 million annually. Saban’s deal runs until 2025-26 and pays him up to $1.1 in bonuses annually.
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 and was rewarded with a nearly identical deal as Malzahn. Also signed before the 2018-19 season and running through 2024-25, Smart will make $49 million total and $7 million annually. The only difference is that Smart will make up to $1.1 in bonuses annually, slightly lower than Malzahn. 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 signed a six-year, $36.6 million deal with Gators, good for $6.1 million annually. The contract pays Mullen up to $975,000 in bonuses each year. The leader of the Gators is likely up for a new contract extension.
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 six 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 one of four new head coaches in the SEC this year, and he has bragging rights with the highest total: $24 million over six years. 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 joins the SEC 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. Kiffin’s deal is a four-year, $16.2 million deal with an annual value of $4.05 million. Kiffin has quite the incentive to succeed, though, as he boasts a conference-high maximum bonus of more than $2 million per year. Maybe that bonus will fuel Kiffin to become the first former Saban assistant to beat the king of Tuscaloosa.
Sam Pittman, University of Arkansas
Pittman is the fourth and final newcomer to the conference this 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.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt University
Mason joined Vanderbilt before the 2014-15 season and recently received a new contract in February 2019. Since Vanderbilt is a private university, the school does not release coach salaries. Although, according to The Tennessean, Mason’s base salary was over $3 million in 2018 for the first time during his Vanderbilt tenure.
We’re discussing more college football coaching salaries from other conferences here.
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