So when it comes to college football, the coaches are the stars. This is due to the high turnover rates of players which make it hard to find any consistency anywhere but the coaching staff. So let’s take a look at the highest paid college football coaches in 2017 and see how much these “superstars” are actually making.
#10 – Hugh Freeze ($4.3 Million Annually)
Daniel Hugh Freeze was born in Oxford, Mississippi where he would go on to attend Senatobia High School in his teens. He had excellent grades and was accepted to study at the University of Southern Mississippi and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and minored in coaching and sports administration. He would graduate in 1992 and immediately landed a job at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennessee as their football team’s offensive coordinator. In just three short years he was promoted to head coach for both the football team and also the girls’ basketball team. During both his stints as head coach for both teams he managed to successfully win several state championships and was awarded numerous “Coach of the Year” titles. It was also during this time that he would coach Michael Oher, a future Carolina Panther and is the real person depicted in the movie The Blind Spot starring Sandra Bullock.
In 2005 he was hired as the athletic director at the University of Mississippi, a position he held for three years. Following that he was named the head football coach at Lambuth University. He led their team to their overall best record in terms of wins in that single year which earned him an offer to coach at the University of Tennessee but declined that position and in 2010 went on to coach at Arkansas State very briefly. The following year he was named head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels team at the University of Mississippi. So far he has done an excellent job at raising the team’s overall AP rankings, making them the number three best college football team in the country. He was also able to win nine straight games in the 2015 season which eventually led them to the 2016 Sugar Bowl, a game in which they won 48-20 against Oklahoma State – their first Sugar Bowl win in over forty years!
#9 – Les Miles ($4.4 Million Annually)
Les Miles was born in 1953 to parents Bubba and Martha Miles in Elyria, Ohio. He was an excellent player in several sports throughout his high school years at Elyria High School, including baseball, wrestling and football. He actually received all-state honors so it was no big surprise that he would continue playing football in college at the University of Michigan. After graduating he went on to become assistant coach for the football team at the University of Colorado and then returned to the University of Michigan in 1987 where he was made offensive line coach. During this time he helped bring the Michigan Wolverines to eight straight winning seasons and even four Rose Bowl appearances. After the eighth win he was forced to resign for personal reasons and then landed a job as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, followed by landing a position to be a tight end’s coach three years later for the Dallas Cowboys.
He returned to Oklahoma State once more, this time as their football team’s head coach. His coaching position started out rough with a losing season during his first year but that all changed for the next three years as he had back-to-back winning seasons, leading Les Miles to being named the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year in 2002. In 2005 he decided to leave Oklahoma State for good and took a job as the head football coach for Louisiana State University. Several days before their very first game, tragedy reared its ugly head as Hurricane Katrina struck, delaying several of their games that season. Even though Les Miles has been offered other coaching positions over the past decade he has instead decided to remain with Louisiana State University. He is to remain their head coach until after the 2019 season when his contract will expire.
#8 – James Franklin ($4.6 Million Annually)
James Franklin was born February 2nd, 1972 in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. He attended Neshaminy High School where he would play football for several years, followed by receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at East Stroudsburg University. There he would also play as quarterback for the school’s football team for four years and was even named as Sports Illustrated’s Player of the Year during his final year in college. Immediately following college he landed a job coaching wide receivers at Kutztown University. A year later he returned to East Stroudsburg University where he would coach their football team’s secondary defense. Simultaneously he was also offensive coordinator for the Roskilde Kings of the Danish American Football Federation although both of his jobs would only last a year as he would soon become the wide receivers coach at James Madison, followed by tight ends coach at Washington State and wide receivers coach at Idaho State, where he would help bring the Idaho Bengals to one of the schools personal best football seasons.
Between the years 2000 – 2005, James Franklin served as the University of Maryland’s wide receivers coach. He also performed several other duties for the team including one of the main recruiters. James Franklin spent a great amount of time travelling around the country looking for talent and surprisingly he became very good at spotting it, as he was considered by many to be a top recruiter. After he left the University of Maryland he went on to become the wide receivers coach for the Green Bay Packers, which only lasted for one football season. Afterwards he spent two seasons at Kansas State as the quarterbacks coach followed by head coach at Vanderbilt until 2013. The following year he became head football coach for Penn State, a move which disappointed many Vanderbilt fans. Since then he has helped lead Penn State to several victories and has publicly stated he wishes to make Penn State the most dominating school in football history.
#7 – Kevin Sumlin ($5 Million Annually)
Kevin Sumlin was born in 1964 and as a child he attended Jesuit Prep School in Indianapolis where he participated in several sports including basketball, hockey and football. He then went on to attend Purdue University where he was the starting linebacker for four straight years. During his second year he and his team were part of the Peach Bowl and finished in the top ten. Following his college days he landed a job at Washington State as the assistant head football coach. He also had a few other assistant coaching jobs at several other colleges including Wyoming University, Minnesota University, Purdue University and the University of Oklahoma. During his final year at the University of Oklahoma it was stated that he has one of the best offense teams in the country as they averaged an incredible 44 points per game. This made Kevin Sumlin top contender to receive the Paul Bryant Award.
In 2011, Kevin Sumlin left the University of Oklahoma to become the head football coach for Texas A&M. Since then he has gone on to bring the team to several winning streaks and in 2012 even had an 11-2 record, bringing the team overall to being one of the top five best teams in the country. One of his first coaching decisions was naming Johnny Manziel the starting quarterback, a decision that proved to be the right one as Manziel himself has gone on to win the Heisman Trophy for his incredible talent. Even though he has only been head coach for a short amount of time he has already broke several records, including more than 7,000 yards ran per season and was the first head coach in college football history to win more than 8 games in their first year. Because of his leadership, Kevin Sumlin’s contract has been an extended an extra six years all the way until the end of the 2019 football season.
#6 – Charlie Strong ($5.1 Million Annually)
Charlie Strong was born in Batesville, Arkansas to parents Charles and Delois Strong. Growing up, Charlie’s father worked as a football coach and helped teach kids about the game. Charlie himself grew up to play football all four years in college as a defensive back at the University of Central Arkansas. He wound up landing a coaching job as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida and Texas A&M until he transferred to Henderson State University where he obtained his master’s degree in education.
After obtaining his degree, Charlie Strong went on to coach at Southern Illinois as a wide receivers coach. Throughout the next decade he would relocate to several other locations to coach as a defensive coordinator including the University of Florida, South Carolina, Notre Dame and even Ole Miss. Between the years 2003 – 2009 he served as the defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators. During the 2004 season, then head coach Ron Zook was fired and Charlie Strong served as head coach for a single game – the 2004 Peach Bowl. Unfortunately they did not win the game and Strong returned to his defensive coordinator position. In 2009 he left the Florida Gators and went on to become the head football coach for the University of Louisville. It was his very first real head coach position; something he had been waiting for his entire life. He proved to be a successful head coach as he led his team to a Sugar Bowl win against the Florida Gators in 2013.
These days, Charlie Strong is working as the head coach at the University of Texas. Current Athletic Director Bill Powers said of Strong that the reason he chose him as head coach is due to his commitment to help develop student-athletes both on and off the field. They were looking for someone like Strong who cared about both the physical and mental toughness of players which is obviously a wise decision.
#5 – John “Jimbo” Fisher ($5.2 Million Annually)
John “Jimbo” Fisher was born in 1965 in Clarksburg, West Virginia. During college he played football as the starting quarterback at Salem International College under head coach Terry Bowden. Fisher and Bowden became close friends and when Bowden left his coaching job at Salem International, Fisher decided to follow suit and transferred to Samford University so they could remain quarterback and coach. Fisher stated he wanted to play his final season of football with head coach Bowden and it was a wise decision on his part as he was named the Division III National Player of the Year and went on to beat multiple school records at Samford. Their friendship continued well after Fisher graduated college as Fisher would soon join Bowden as his assistant coach between the years 1988 – 1990 and subsequently went on to transfer with Bowden once more, this time to Auburn University where he coached quarterbacks.
Between the years 2000 – 2006, Fisher coached quarterbacks and worked as the offensive coordinator at Louisiana State University. During this time he would do tremendous work as he routinely helped a number of college quarterbacks become outstanding at the game. When his contract was over he originally was supposed to become the head football coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham but instead the position was given to someone else. Luckily that wouldn’t matter as he immediately was able to land a position at Florida State University where he continued being a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. After three years with Florida State University, Fisher was finally promoted to the head coach position. To this day he has maintained this position and there is no doubt he will continue being their head coach for years to come. Outside of being a coach he has two sons named Trey and Ethan and Fisher’s brother, Bryan, is an offensive coordinator at Fairmont State University.
#4 – Bob Stoops ($5.4 Million Annually)
Bob Stoops was born in September 1960 in Youngstown, Ohio to parents Ronald and Evelyn Stoops. Coaching football ran in the family as Ronald Stoop coached football at Cardinal Mooney High School, which is where Bob and his three siblings attended high school. They all participated in football while in high school and Bob himself was a defensive back. Although tragically during a football game, Bob’s father started experiencing chest pains and passed away from a heart attack on the way to the hospital. This didn’t stop Bob from continuing playing football, as he went on to study marketing at the University of Iowa where he continued playing as a defensive back and in 1982 he was even named MVP of his school.
His first coaching position was in 1988 when he applied and was accepted as the assistant coach under head coach Richard Crum at Kent State University. This only lasted for a year as in 1989 he went on to become the defensive coordinator at Kansas State University. During his time at Kansas State, he helped their football team, who at the time was considered by many to be one of the worst teams in the district, make a complete turnaround in terms of overall performance. This lead Bob to receive a promotion in 1995 and was made assistant head coach alongside head coach Bill Snyder. He would then leave to join the University of Florida as defense coordinator and helped lead the Florida Gators to a 1997 Sugar Bowl win. Bob Stoops quickly became one of the hottest names in college football and was receiving all types of head coaching positions.
In 1999 he accepted one of the offers as head coach at the University of Oklahoma where he remains to this day. During his time he has gone on to become one of their best head coaches in the school’s history. He has gone on to help the team dominate the sport of football and for his efforts he has received the Paul Bryant Award and even a Walter Camp Coach of the Year award.
#3 – Urban Meyer ($5.8 Million Annually)
Urban Meyer was born in 1964 in Toledo, Ohio and at a young age moved to Ashtabula, Ohio. He played both football and baseball at Saint John High School and was even drafted by the MLB and spent two seasons playing as shortstop for the Atlanta Braves between the years 1982 – 1984. At the same time he studied at the University of Cincinnati in hopes of earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1986. To top it all off he even played football for the University of Cincinnati as a defensive back. Afterwards he transferred to Ohio State University where he earned a master’s degree in sports administration.
After graduating college he spent the following thirteen years as an assistant coach for three colleges: Illinois State, Colorado State and finally at Notre Dame, which he considered to be his “dream job”. This led to his first official year of being a head coach at Bowling Green in 2001 where he helped bring the team back from a losing streak. Overall they finished the first two years with an impressive record of 17-6. Afterwards he transferred once more to the University of Utah where he took a team that was 2-9 overall and completely turned it around and brought them to 10-2 the following year. After winning an award for Best College Football Coach in 2004, Meyer started to gain national recognition and got the attention of the University of Florida which ended up being his next coaching gig. He remained with the team until 2011 when he once more returned to Ohio State, this time to be the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. He has since remained with the team and it has been stated that he has signed a contract with them to coach until the 2020 football season is over.
#2 – Jim Harbaugh ($7.0 Million Annually)
Jim Harbaugh was born in December 1963 to parents Jack and Jacqueline Harbaugh. He also has an older brother named John who currently serves as the head coach for the Baltimore Ravens. Jim’s father himself was a football coach in their home town of Toledo, Ohio at Perrysburg High School. Jim would of course eventually play for his father’s team when he entered high school; however it was short lived as his father earned a promotion and went on to become the defensive coordinator at Stanford University. Both Jim and his brother John would end up graduating at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California.
After graduating he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he attended the University of Michigan and continued playing football for four years as a Michigan Wolverine. He held the position of starting quarterback each year which helped his career a lot, as after graduating in 1987 he went on to spend the next fourteen years as an NFL quarterback playing for the Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens, the San Diego Chargers and finally the Carolina Panthers for a whopping six games. Throughout his entire NFL career he participated in 177 games, leading 140 of them.
Although he was technically considered to be an unpaid assistant coach with his father Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky University while simultaneously playing in the NFL, his first real coaching position wasn’t until 2002 when he became the quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders. He then went on to coach at the University of San Diego, followed by Stanford University, just like his father before him. Between the years 2011 – 2014, Jim Harbaugh was the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. After an awful nine-year streak of poor performances, Jim was able to bring back the 49ers to their former glory by taking them to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. Coincidentally they played against the Baltimore Ravens, whose head coach is Jim’s brother, John Harbaugh. The 49ers lost 34-31 in one of the closest Super Bowl games of all time.
This brings us back to the University of Michigan where Jim Harbaugh is now the head coach. Even though it’s only been a year, Jim has proven to be a great coach as this year his team is expected to be one of the best college football has to offer.
#1 – Nick Saban ($7.2 Million Annually)
Charting our list as the number one highest paid college football coach is none other than current head coach of the University of Alabama, Nick Saban. Nick was born in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1951 to parents Nick Lou and Mary Saban. He is a devout Roman Catholic and graduated from Kent State University where he played football as a defensive back all four years under head coach Don James. Originally Nick wanted to be a professional football player; however he changed his mind when Don James made him his assistant coach after he graduated. This led him to numerous other assistant coaching positions throughout his early years at schools like West Virginia, Michigan State and Ohio State.
In 1989 he made his debut head football coach appearance at the University of Toledo where he would coach for six years and in 1995 he transferred once again to Michigan State to serve as their head coach. Before Nick landed his new position at Michigan State, the school had a terrible losing record that had been going on for five years. This changed in the next four seasons as Nick miraculously helped them make a comeback.
Nick Saban would go on to teach at two more schools before landing the head coaching position at the University of Alabama. The first being Louisiana State University where he finished his first year with eight straight wins, followed by spending the 2005 and 2006 football season with the NFL team the Miami Dolphins. On January 4th, 2007 Nick Saban was officially announced to be the head coach at the University of Alabama. He has gone on to receive many awards, including a “Most Powerful Coach in Sports” award in 2008. During his time as the University of Alabama coach he has dominated the sport of football by leading his team to three AP National Championships.
Would you of guessed another other than Nick Saban himself would be the highest paid college football coach? At this point it looks like money well spent with his track record over the last 10 years.