College Football 2011: Are the 10 Highest Paid Coaches Earning Their Paychecks?

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2011

College Football 2011: Are the 10 Highest Paid Coaches Earning Their Paychecks?

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    As the college football 2011 season moves slowly closer (only six months left until kickoff!) and most of the dust has settled on the coaching cycle and recruiting trails, it's time to take a look at the college football landscape. 

    In particular, we're focusing on the coaching realm today, specifically focusing on coaches' salaries. 

    For the top coaches in college football, the pay is pretty darned good. You can expect to pull down an easy six figures in university salary alone, and that's not counting endorsements and speaking revenue.

    But do they earn it? Do they bring in the top-tier recruiting classes, develop that talent and win football games? 

    We're analyzing the recent resumes of the 10 highest-paid coaches in college football for the 2011 season, based off USA Today's database, which features the salaries of 110 out of the 120 FBS head coaches. You won't see coaches like Notre Dame's Brian Kelly on this list. While he is probably one of the highest paid coaches in football, we have nothing to base his salary on other than rampant speculation. 

    Let's get rolling, shall we? 

10. Will Muschamp, Florida

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    What He’s Making: Muschamp, the new head coach at Florida, signed a five-year, $13.5 million contract this year, which puts his salary at approximately $2.7 million in 2011. 

    Has He Earned it? Not yet.

    Why? Muschamp's only been on the job for a couple of months and while Florida's recruiting class was another strong haul, it's pretty tough to judge a coach before his team, you know, plays a game. 

    So, the jury's out on Muschamp until we see the new-look Gators in action come September. 

9. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

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    What He’s Making: Petrino, in his third season with the Razorbacks, pulled down $2.7 million last season.

    Has He Earned it? Yes.

    Why? Petrino took a team that perennially underachieved under former coach Houston Nutt and has turned them into a legitimate contender in the deep, dangerous SEC West. Last season was the Hogs' best season under Petrino, as they went 10-3 and reached the Sugar Bowl. 

    Sure, they lost quarterback Ryan Mallett this year, but Petrino's solid recruiting means Arkansas should stay competitive for the next couple of years, at least. 

8. Mark Richt, Georgia

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    What He’s Making: Richt made $2.9 million last season as head coach of the Bulldogs.

    Has He Earned it? Maybe. 

    Why? Last season's 5-7 record was the worst Georgia has seen under Richt, and many attribute some of the team's early struggles to the loss of star wideout A.J. Green for the first three games of the season. So, while Richt's seat is a little warm, it doesn't change the fact that the Bulldogs have been perennial powers in the SEC East under his watch. 

    Plus, with an excellent recruiting class, there's a good chance that while Richt didn't earn his pay last year, he certainly put himself in a position to earn it next year. 

7. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

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    What He’s Making: Grobe was pulling down $2.9 million last season with the Demon Deacons. 

    Has He Earned it? No.

    Why? Grobe got a massive deal from Wake after he led the Deacons to an 11-3 record in 2006-07. Since then, his teams have steadily gotten worse, going 9-4, then 8-5, then 5-7, then bottoming out last season at 3-9. 

    Grobe's recruiting hasn't been great either, so there's not much hope on the horizon. Unless the Demon Deacons start winning again next season, Grobe's going to need Teflon pants. 

6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

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    What He’s Making: Ferentz earned $3.7 million last season as head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

    Has He Earned it? Not last season, he didn't. 

    Why? Things were going great for Ferentz at Iowa. His teams were consistently winning 9-11 games a year and contending for BCS bowls. But down the stretch, things fell apart in 2010-11. The Hawkeyes lost five of their final six regular season games before beating Mizzou in the Insight Bowl. 

    As if that weren't enough, Ferentz was a no-show when several player were hospitalized with workout-related disorders and that hasn't exactly endeared him to Iowa fans. He's not on the hot seat, but he certainly didn't earn his hefty check last season. 

5. Jim Tressel, Ohio State

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    What He’s Making: Tressel made $3.9 million as the Buckeyes' head coach. 

    Has He Earned it? Yes.

    Why? The Sweater Vest has certainly earned his paycheck in his tenure at Ohio State, and last season was no exception. Sure, the Buckeyes didn't go to the national title game, but a Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas got the SEC monkey off of Tressel's back. Plus, a 12-1 record is nothing to sneeze at. 

    Sure, there was a bit of tarnish when five Buckeye players were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, but with a strong recruiting class coming in, Tressel did a solid job of atoning for it. 

4. Les Miles, LSU

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    What He’s Making: Miles raked in $3.9 million last season as the Tigers' head coach. 

    Has He Earned it? Yes.

    Why? Somehow, some way, The Hat pulled another stellar season out of his signature headgear. Miles led the Tigers to an 11-2 record, despite lacking a consistent offense this season.

    Add to that a strong recruiting class this season and the fact that he once again stayed at LSU over fleeing home to Michigan, and Miles is sitting pretty in Baton Rouge. 

3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    What He’s Making: Stoops took home $4.3 million for coaching the Sooners in 2010-11. 

    Has He Earned it? Yes.

    Why? Stoops maintained the status quo in Norman, keeping Oklahoma just outside the national title picture all season long in 2010-11. The Sooners went 12-2 and took home a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl trophy, beating up on the UConn Huskies.

    With a stellar team returning and a recruiting class that ranks just outside the top 10, according to, things are looking good for the Sooners next year as well. 

2. Mack Brown, Texas

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    What He’s Making: Brown comes in at $5.1 million for coaching the Longhorns in 2010-11. 

    Has He Earned it? No.

    Why? Things were great in Austin for Mack Brown, at least until last season. That's when the wheels came off in a serious way for the Longhorns' head coach. A 5-7 record was the worst during Brown's tenure, and the departure of numerous assistants via hiring away or pink slip had many wondering whether Brown would be in jeopardy next season. 

    However, the coach offset some of the concern by delivering a deep, talented recruiting class to Texas. Still, even that was not enough to offset the losing in a state where it's tolerated as well as salsa from New York City. 

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

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    What He’s Making: Saban was college football's highest paid coach in 2010-11, pulling down nearly $6 million coaching the Crimson Tide of Alabama. 

    Has He Earned it? Yes.

    Why? Saban has restored the luster to a tarnished Alabama program, who hadn't enjoyed this kind of success since a certain houndstooth hat was patrolling the sidelines. 

    For the third straight season, the Crimson Tide were seen as national title contenders for much of the season, and while their 9-3 regular season record and a dominant win over the Michigan State Spartans in the Capital One Bowl weren't quite what the Tide faithful were hoping for, they're nothing to sneeze at either. 

    Add to that a recruiting class that ranks second in the nation and you've got a coach who certainly earned every penny of his salary.