Jim Harbaugh Headlines USA Today List of College Football's Highest-Paid Coaches

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2016

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 01: Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh warms up prior to the start of the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated Wisconsin 14-7. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh has taken the University of Michigan's football team from a laughingstock to a national title contender in just two seasons, and according to a list released by USA Today on Wednesday, he is being compensated handsomely as the highest-paid coach in college football.

Harbaugh is making $9,004,000 this season, which dwarfs what Alabama pays Nick Saban by more than $2 million. Here is a rundown of the top 10, courtesy of USA Today:

College Football's Highest-Paid Coaches
RankCoachSchool2016 Salary
1Jim HarbaughMichigan$9,004,000
2Nick SabanAlabama$6,939,395
3Urban MeyerOhio State$6,094,800
4Bob StoopsOklahoma$5,550,000
5Jimbo FisherFlorida State$5,250,000
6Charlie StrongTexas$5,200,130
7Kevin SumlinTexas A&M$5,000,000
8Gus MalzahnAuburn$4,729,500
9Hugh FreezeOle Miss$4,703,500
T10James FranklinPenn State$4,500,000
T10Kirk FerentzIowa$4,500,000
USA Today

The Wolverines are ranked No. 2 in the nation behind the Crimson Tide at 7-0, and they are in line to make their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Harbaugh is 17-3 in two seasons as the head man at his alma mater after parting ways with the San Francisco 49ers despite leading them to a pair of NFC Championship Game appearances as well as a Super Bowl berth.

As Bleacher Report's Matt Hayes pointed out, Harbaugh has been a worthwhile investment for the Wolverines:

Harbaugh is respected for what he has done for a program that went 5-7 the season prior to his arrival. Even Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is impressed with his accomplishments, per Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press: "I think coach Harbaugh has done a tremendous job there, obviously. Probably truly one of the best coaches maybe that have come through -- whether it's college coaching or in the NFL -- in past years. Obviously, very well-established, and he's got things going down there." 

While Harbaugh is still pursuing his first national title, the rest of the coaches in the top five have already reached the mountain peak, as Saban, Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops and Jimbo Fisher have led their teams to championships.

Only Auburn's Gus Malzahn has done so through the remainder of the top 10, while Texas' Charlie Strong is on the hot seat despite being the sixth-highest paid coach in the nation.

Coaching salaries have skyrocketed in college football over the past decade, as evidenced by this stat courtesy of CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon:

Doling out millions is worth it at a winning program due to the money and fame that success generates, so it stands to reason that Harbaugh is making Michigan's decision-makers look brilliant.

He has a major obstacle in the form of Ohio State and Meyer standing between him and both a Big Ten Championship and CFP appearance this season on Nov. 26, but it represents a golden opportunity for Harbaugh to show why he is No. 1 on the list and ahead of Meyer at No. 3.

   

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.