Show me the money: America’s highest paid coaches

When Billy Brewer was hired as the head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels football team in 1982, his salary was $47,000. Now the head coach at Ole Miss makes over $3 million.

Ask any old coach and they’ll tell you war stories about the days when they were making average salaries, barely enough to provide for their families. As hard as it is to believe now, given the ballooned salaries of many head coaches, money was actually a deterrent back in the day. It wasn’t uncommon for an assistant football coach at a major Division I program to be making $5 G’s a year. Hard to believe.

In college football today, the 25 highest paid coaches are all making north of $3.5 million. Don’t think Auburn has any money? Take a look at Gus Malzahn’s salary.

Here’s a quick rundown, in reverse order, of last year’s Top 5 highest paid college football coaches:

5. Gus Malzahn – Auburn – $6.7 million

4. Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M – $7.5 million

3. Jim Harbaugh – Michigan – $7.5 million

2. Urban Meyer – Ohio State – $7.6 million 

1. Nick Saban – Alabama – $8.3 million

Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn | Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

To demonstrate how meteoric coaches salaries are, consider this: when Saban originally signed with Alabama in 2007, his salary was for eight years at $32 mil. My math has that at $4 million per year, and at the time those integers made folks squirm and pull uncomfortably on their collar. Because Saban’s current contract increases his salary by $400,000 every year, he is scheduled to make $10.3 million per year in 2025. If you include incentives and all the other bells and whistles, his salary will have tripled in just 18 years. Saban signed new contracts (raises) in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2017, and 2018. He may, in fact, sign one before this article is over.

Let’s take a look at a few more who are raking it in in other sports:

College Basketball

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke. $8.98 Million

Also included in the Top 5 are Kentucky’s John Calipari ($7.99 million), Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann ($7.15 million), Kansas’s Bill Self ($4.95 million) and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo ($4.36 million).


Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs ($11 million)

Also included in the Top 5 are Doc Rivers of the L.A. Clippers ($10 million), Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves ($10 million), Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks ($7 million) and Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons ($7 million).


Bill Belichick – New England Patriots – $10-12.5 million (estimated)

Also included in the Top 5 are Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders ($10 million), Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks ($9 million), Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints ($9 million) and Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers ($7.75 million).


Joe Maddon – Chicago Cubs – $6 million

Also included in the Top 5 from last season are Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants ($6 million), Mike Scioscia of the California Angels ($6 million–Scioscia is now retired), Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians ($4 million), and Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles ($4 million).

Top to bottom, Major League Baseball managers make considerably less than their professional counterparts. For instance, Brian Snitker, who ushered the Atlanta Braves to a division title in 2018, hauled in only $800K last year. The front office in Atlanta decided it was time for a raise, and cut a two-year deal with the skipper last October for an undisclosed amount.

Interestingly enough, the other manager tied for the lowest paid was Alex Cora. This is the same Alex Cora who won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox.

Apparently, the Red Sox won on both the field and at the bank as well. H&A


Cover photo: Nick Saban prepares his team for the national championship game versus Clemson. Courtesy Alabama Athletics 


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Al Blanton

Al Blanton

Born in Jasper, Alabama, Al is the owner and publisher of Blanton Media Group.
Al Blanton

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