College Football's Top 50 Coaching Salaries: Are They Paid What They Should Be?

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIIJuly 16, 2012

College Football's Top 50 Coaching Salaries: Are They Paid What They Should Be?

0 of 50

    Many fans around the country believe that coaches are getting paid way too much these days, just by the looks of the lucrative deals they are signing.

    However, winning has never been more important—what with all the conference realignments—and most should realize that the pressure of powerhouse programs to succeed as demanded by large fanbases often plays a vital role in the negotiation of these contracts.

    Every school has a certain budget, but it should go without saying that most BCS programs will throw down a few million per season for their head football coaches.

    Still, when a program is not succeeding, many would like their head coaches to take a dip in pay salary.

    Instead, we have seen coaches get canned (usually after three failing seasons), and we often see several elite coaches make top dollar because they will come through in games that matter the most (rivalries, bowls, conference titles).

    Looking at the top 50 paid coaches based on their 2012 salary, I will simply note whether they should be paid more or less (or the same) based on their level of production and just how vital they are to their programs. 

    Note: Danny V's Wallet on the bottom suggests how much I would give them if I had an infinite amount, and it is based on their production and how vital they are to their current programs, etc. Salaries have links provided as some reports may have different salaries listed

Chris Petersen, Boise State

1 of 50

    Current Record: 73-6

    4x Conference Crowns ('06, '08-'10)

    2x BCS Victories ('06, '09)

    2x Paul Bear Bryant Award ('06,'09)

    1x Bobby Dodd Coach of Year ('10)

    Arguably the best coach in America, Chris Petersen has put up staggering numbers through six seasons with the Broncos.

    Going 73-6 is beyond absurd, but being able to change the landscape of college football will always be remembered. Most will never forget Boise State’s upset over Oklahoma (‘06-‘07), but putting together two perfect seasons and five seasons of 12-plus wins is iconic territory.

    It doesn’t matter what conference one coaches in because Petersen prepares his team against them all.

    Going 9-1 against BCS teams (UW being the only defeat) shows their ability to gang up even against the top competition a few times a season.

    Heading to the Big East in 2013 will be intriguing to watch, but one more season in the Mountain West should allow Petersen and the boys to tally up a few more victories for one of the most productive (and underpaid) coaches in the game.

    2012 Salary: $1.7 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.7 million or slightly over

Larry Fedora, North Carolina

2 of 50

    Current Record: 34-19

    1x Conference Crown ('11)

    The Tar Heels are not allowed to go bowling in 2012, but the future should allow them to see plenty of beautiful destinations thanks to Larry Fedora.

    A legit coach that is primed for the BCS level, Fedora and the Heels have a shot to appear in several ACC titles for seasons to come.

    Hauling in top talent is one thing, but Fedora has shown to have a knack for developing a ton of pure athletes into excellent ballplayers. Chapel Hill will have a ton to cheer about in the future, and it may start in 2012 even without a bowl destination.

    2012 Salary: $1.73 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.73 million is fair

Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh

3 of 50

    Here we have a program that has only appeared in one BCS bowl and is heading off to the ACC in two seasons, but the inability to stick with a coach (some they have no control over) is starting to wear on the fanbase.

    Paul Chryst did a fine job with the Badgers in the Big Ten, and many are now expecting him to turn this offense into a much more consistent threat in the Big East. Give him few years, though.

    2012 Salary: $1.75 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.75 million is fair

David Shaw, Stanford

4 of 50

    Current Record: 11-2

    David Shaw was not expected to out-duel Jim Harbaugh, but he essentially did just that in his first season. Andrew Luck is now gone, but the recruits are starting to pile up with the best that the Pac-12 has to offer.

    In fact, the Cardinal are becoming a physical, aggressive team that is controlling their lines of scrimmage. If the playmakers out wide (tight ends help) can continue to develop, David Shaw will be appearing in many more future BCS bowls.

    2012 Salary: $1.75 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.75 million or slightly over

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

5 of 50

    Current Record: 40-36

    The Wildcats are still attempting to end that absolutely terrifying winless bowl streak, which goes all the way back to 1949.

    The ‘Cats have been scrapping and clawing their way to bowl appearances, but they just have been unable to perform well when it matters most.

    They have been overmatched at times, but that is mainly because Fitzgerald has exceeded regular-season expectations.

    2012 Salary: $1.8 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Over $1.8 million (especially when he wins a bowl game)

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

6 of 50

    Current Record: 44-22 (62-39)

    1x Conference Crown ('10)

    1x Conference Coach of Year ('10)

    1x Division Crown ('11)

    This Spartan coach has simply turned around the program from a basement dweller in the Big Ten to BCS and conference contenders every season.

    Consecutive 11-win seasons have labeled the Spartans as one of the premier teams in the conference, but also one of the favorites in college football to finally reach their first ever BCS bid.

    Michigan State’s killer defense has been nasty lately, and the best is yet to come with Dantonio’s ability to coach them up as well as any in the Midwest.

    Look for that much-coveted Big Ten title (outright) and/or appearance in the BCS, which will finally allow Dantonio to get his due.

    2012 Salary: $1.83 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3 million or slightly over

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

7 of 50

    Current Record: 76-48

    1x National Coach of Year ('93)

    8x Conference Crowns ('93-'96, '03-'05, '07)

    4x Conference Coach of Year ('93-'94, '03, '05)

    Suffering through the worst two-year span in Michigan program history, Rich Rodriguez did not have nearly the success he had envisioned.

    West Virginia was proud of the spread offense attack that he brought because the perfect players made his system unstoppable.

    Many are questioning exactly how long it will take before the ‘Cats see some moderate success. Although the cupboard isn’t bare, the Pac-12 is a legit conference that is loaded with speed all over the field.

    Most should expect a bowl or two in the next three seasons. Anything more would be dreaming.

    2012 Salary: $1.91 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.91 million or slightly under

Bill Snyder, Kansas State

8 of 50

    Current Record: 159-83-1

    4x Division Crowns ('98-'00, '03)

    1x Conference Crown ('03)

    3x Coach of Year Award (twice in '98, '11)

    6x Conference Coach of Year ('90, '91, '93, '98, '02, '11)

    Bill Snyder has brought the Kansas State Wildcats from the dirt of the BCS to contenders on two separate tenures.

    Once upon a time, he had Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles gashing opponents, and now he has Collin Klein doing essentially the same.

    Throw in underrated, quick defenses, and there is no doubting that Snyder is one of the premier coaches in the country.

    One of the more underrated coaches in the FBS, look for Snyder to surprise some more folks in the coming years despite the expectations that are being raised in Manhattan.

    2012 Salary: $1.95 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3 million or slightly over

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

9 of 50

    Current Record: 29-19

    Dabo and his young pups at Clemson have often surprised us in more ways than one.

    Sammy Watkins is arguably the most explosive, electrifying player on the planet, and his signal-caller isn’t too shabby either (Tajh Boyd).

    However, Clemson was obliterated by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, as they lost, 70-33. Clemson did win the ACC for the first time in the BCS era, which isn’t a bad consolation prize despite the embarrassing loss.

    Swinney just received an extension, and the future looks bright regardless of the lofty expectations.

    2012 Salary: $1.95 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.95 million is fair

Al Golden, Miami

10 of 50

    Current Record: 6-6 (33-40)

    Conference Coach of Year ('09)

    Al Golden drastically turned around a Temple program that was as bad as you will see in the FBS. A near-MAC championship two and three seasons ago put Golden on the watch list for many BCS programs.

    The Canes bought him in, and they hope that the immediate future will be bright for a program that has suffered a lot in the last 12 months.

    The talent is not what it once was, but the room for improvement with Golden leading the way has some solid upside despite no longer getting any of the national headlines in college football.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2 million is fair

Randy Edsall, Maryland

11 of 50

    Current Record: 2-10 (72-73)

    2x Conference Crowns ('07, '10)

    1x Conference Coach of Year ('10)

    The Terps were pumped after their Labor Day night victory over the Hurricanes. Outside of a victory over Towson, though, Maryland did not win another game for the rest of the season.

    It was almost as big of a joke as the hype their uniforms received since it did not translate into much on the field.

    Edsall desperately needs solid improvement from his squad, or else many will question how much luck was involved in the 2010 season in which he took the Huskies to a Big East crown and BCS bid.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.5 million or slightly under

Kyle Whittingham, Utah

12 of 50

    Current Record: 65-25

    1x Conference Crown ('08)

    1x Conference Coach of Year ('08)

    1x AFCA Coach of Year ('08)

    1x Paul Bear Bryant Coach of Year ('08)

    Before the Utes made their move to a BCS conference, they were considered the best non-AQ team alongside the likes of Boise State and TCU.

    Kyle Whittingham did not have the season he would have liked as a new member of the Pac-12, but he is stocking the players to make his squad one of the more improved teams in America.

    It surely helps to have a cupcake schedule overall (compared to some juggernauts), but hosting the USC Trojans on a Thursday night might just be the game that makes the Utes feel at home in their new conference.

    Win or lose, Whittingham has already achieved a ton of success in Salt Lake City, so most should expect more to come in the near future.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2 million or slightly over

Skip Holtz, USF

13 of 50

    Current Record: 13-12 (51-39)

    2x Conference Crowns ('08-'09)

    The South Florida Bulls are one of those sexy teams that the media loves to pick because of the talent the program always seems to have on paper.

    However, they are still looking for their first ever appearance in the BCS, and senior quarterback B.J. Daniels will hopefully cap of his collegiate career on a strong note for Skip Holtz.

    Holtz also received an extension this offseason. Despite the 5-7 record last year, many (including Holtz) believe this team will break through.

    They better, because every season, they have the looks of becoming a top-20 team, yet they end up falling flat on their faces.

    Looking to change all of that, the Bulls should be in good hands with Holtz.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2 million or slightly over

Todd Graham, ASU

14 of 50

    Current Record: 49-29

    3x Division Crowns ('07, '08, '10)

    The Sun Devils were ranked in the top 15 last season...and then the wheels completely fell off. ASU pulled an ASU, losing five of its final six games.

    The team essentially gave up at times for Dennis Erickson, but Todd Graham will certainly grab everybody's attention with the offensive production he has given to the majority of his teams.

    Arizona State has never lacked the talent to compete in the conference, but its awareness and discipline has taken a huge hit in the past few seasons. Give Graham some time, but we should expect nice strides eventually.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2 million or slightly under

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

15 of 50

    Current Record: 35-17

    2x Conference Coach of Year ('09, '11)

    Kevin Sumlin and his Houston Cougars came on like gangbusters all the way until their final regular-season contest.

    They ended up losing the C-USA crown to Southern Miss and Larry Fedora, but a top-15 finish (Coaches Poll) and 12-1 final record are not terrible consolation prizes.

    The Aggies will need that explosive offense Sumlin employed at Houston to transcend into the tough and rugged SEC gauntlet.

    The spread attack is never easy to defend, though the SEC defenses are easily the best in the country, which will bring quite the challenge right away for Sumlin.

    The expectations obviously will not be as high as at teams such as Alabama or LSU, but many will expect a bowl destination every season. Eventually, a trip to the BCS may be expected as well.

    Time will tell just how strong this program will become, but Sumlin has the goods to at least make it one hell of an entertaining ride.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A tad over $2 million

Derek Dooley, Tennessee

16 of 50

    Current Record: 11-14 (28-34)

    Derek Dooley and his Vols are among my top five teams to shock most of the college football nation next season. However, many have labeled Dooley among the top coaches in the game in terms of being thrown under the fire.

    Being on the hot seat is never fun for a fan of the program, but winning is all coaches care about at the end of the day.

    With an offensively-loaded team poised to break loose, Dooley is praying the Vols can put it all together. He is just 11-14 through two seasons at Tennessee, but this third season should finally see major improvements.

    2012 Salary: $2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A tad under $2 million

Mike London, Virginia

17 of 50

    Current Record: 12-13

    1x National Champion ('08, DI)

    1x Conference Crown ('09, CAA)

    2x Coach of Year ('08, '11)

    Mike London was a world-beating coach at Richmond for two season, and he has quickly turned around the Cavaliers' program as well.

    After a tough 4-8 season, UVA went 8-5 with an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (though most would like to forget their performance).

    London is already aligning the stars (Rivals' No. 25 for recruiting) for what should be a mid-tier program (if not upper level, top five) in the ACC for years to come.

    2012 Salary: $2.1 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.1 million is fair

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

18 of 50

    Current Record: 13-12 (123-72)

    5x Division Crowns ('00-'02, '04-'05)

    1x SEC Crown ('04)

    2x Conference Coach of Year ('97, '04)

    1x AFCA Coach of Year ('04)

    "The Riverboat Gambler” is a joy to watch pace on the sidelines because of the success he has achieved in the ultimate of conferences.

    Going 7-3 in career bowls is impressive regardless of the competition, and Tuberville was arguably robbed of a BCS title appearance back in 2004.

    Although the Red Raiders are coming off a tough 5-7 season, they should be banking on more bowl games in the near future with enough talent to compete in the mid tier of the conference.

    2012 Salary: $2.1 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.1 million is fair, give me a "Guns Up" 

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

19 of 50

    Current Record: 68-67 (101-100-1)

    Wake Forest football was tough to endure as fans, media members or even coaches and players. If you were to go back all the way to 1978, the Demon Deacons only appeared in three bowls before Grobe became the head coach.

    Most even below-average BCS programs find a way to appear in a few bowl games every decade (at least).

    In fact, Wake Forest has faced so many struggles that the last coach that endured a winning tenure was D.C. (Peahead) Walker.

    Grobe has meant everything for WF thanks to appearing in the program’s first ever BCS bowl (‘06). In total, he has gone to five bowls with this program.

    One of your more underrated coaches in the game, Jim Grobe deserves every penny he gets.  

    2012 Salary: $2.22 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Over $2.22 million

Mike Leach, Washington State

20 of 50

    Current Record: 84-43

    1x Conference Coach of Year ('08)

    Mike Leach is finally back in college football, and everybody should be pumped to have an offensive machine like himself calling plays again.

    The spread offense that will chuck it a million times per game is great for entertainment. Just seeing more explosive offenses in the sport is great for fans.

    Texas Tech was a BCS contender in the late stages of the Leach era, and don’t be shocked if the Cougars start to go bowling as early as Leach's first season.

    The guy knows his football and will be able to fit players perfectly for his wide-open system where anything goes.

    2012 Salary: $2.25 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.25 million or slightly over

Steve Sarkisian, Washington

21 of 50

    Current Record: 19-19

    Steve Sarkisian has only been through three seasons with the Huskies, but at just 38 years of age, many are expecting him to make an eventual run to the BCS.

    That may seem like a flat-out lie with the way the Huskies have played defense in recent memory, but we know their offense can put up some points. That is a great start, and they have scheduled (or at least started to) some BCS squads in their non-conference as well.

    The ability to bring in legit talent and talk to his team (as a young coach, he can relate to his kids) as if they will soon succeed at the highest of levels really has given the program high hopes for the future.

    2012 Salary: $2.25 Million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.25 million or slightly over

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

22 of 50

    Current Record: 209-98-2

    8x Conference Crowns ('86, 95, '96, '99, '04, '07, '08, '10)

    1x AP Coach of Year ('99)

    5x Conference Coach of Year ('95, '96, '99, '04, '05)

    Frank Beamer has been the most consistent coach in college football for the last decade. Virginia Tech has been sensational since moving over from the Big East, winning the ACC four times with five appearances in the BCS (1-4).

    Despite the less-than-ideal bowl record, Beamer and the boys have been dominant, winning 10 or more games for eight straight seasons.

    The defense and special teams dominance (save the '12 Sugar Bowl) has been great, and their backfields have been loaded with experienced and talented players.

    Beamer is as good as it gets. Though he does not haul in the greatest high school players in the world (most would take them; just not many 5-star), but his ability throw them into his schemes and coach them up to becoming superstars in the ACC has been a joy to witness.

    2012 Salary: $2.278 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.278 million or slightly over

Bill O’Brien, Penn State

23 of 50

    Clearly, the Nittany Lions have an interesting season coming up. This entire offseason has taken attention from any and everything around the world of Penn State sports.

    Bill O’Brien was a tremendous offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, and he can only help develop Matt McGloin—among others—to get this offense back on track. Winning in the Big Ten is tough when you average less than 20 points per game (110th), though.

    O’Brien and every person revolved around the sport does not know exactly will happen to the PSU program (reduction of scholarships, among other things), but this mid-tier team in the Big Ten is still capable of playing above-.500 ball even on its worst of playing days.

    2012 Salary: $2.3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.3 million or slightly under

Charlie Strong, Louisville

24 of 50

    Current Record: 14-12 (14-13)

    Charlie Strong was one fine defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators, and he is now the reason for the recent resurgence of the Louisville Cardinals.

    Consecutive 7-6 seasons is far from the ultimate goal, though, and many are waiting for a monster season in which we'll see the ‘Ville play in January against an opposing top-10 squad.

    If they fall short in 2012, the future should be even brighter, with Teddy Bridgewater as his star quarterback (he's just a sophomore). Additionally, the defense will only improve over time.

    Count on Strong to continue to develop this program into a consistent nationally-ranked program where the sky is the limit.

    2012 Salary: $2.3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.3 million is “on the money”

Jeff Tedford, Cal

25 of 50

    Current Record: 79-48

    2x Conference Coach of Year ('02, '04)

    1x Conference Crown ('06)

    Jeff Tedford has never appeared in the BCS yet with his Bears, but they still are competing with the mid-tier squads in the Pac-12.

    The hype machine has been out a few times in Berkeley, but the end results have not been kind. The 2004 squad was arguably the best team in the country, as they defeated USC and had only lost one game heading into their bowl game.

    The Longhorns, of course, miraculously edged them out in the BCS rankings, and the uninspired Bears lost in the Holiday Bowl.

    Aaron Rodgers was the signal-caller, which explains how much talent Tedford has been able to bring in alongside NFL players such as Marshawn Lynch, Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen and DeSean Jackson.

    2006 was the last season in which Cal reached double-figure victories, and it may take some miracles to get back to that level of national relevancy. If not, Tedford could be in danger of not hanging around for much longer.

    2012 Salary: $2.3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $1.8 million or under

Gary Pinkel, Missouri

26 of 50

    Current Record: 85-54 (158-91-3)

    Moving to the SEC will be a challenge for the Tigers, but Gary Pinkel has achieved a hell of a lot of success for the two programs he has coached (Toledo and Mizzou).

    Pinkel has seen a lot in his coaching career. Having appeared in nine bowl games is helpful for a program that will need to step their games up against the elite competition.

    Pinkel should be able to come away with a few victories, although it will be a grind and then some for the immediate future.  

    2012 Salary: $2.35 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A tad under $2.35 million

Jim Mora, Jr, UCLA

27 of 50

    After piling up a 31-33 NFL record, Jim Mora, Jr., has entered the collegiate atmosphere with the hopes of finally bringing Bruins football back to national relevancy. The Pac-12 has beaten up UCLA thanks to an inconsistent offense that has often been boring to witness.

    Inconsistency and injury-riddled quarterbacks have left their marks on the program, but the future looks brighter since it's been a struggle to just appear in a bowl—let alone a good one (no January bowl since '99).

    2012 Salary: $2.4 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A bit under $2.4 million

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

28 of 50

    Current Record: 34-19 (79-48)

    1x ACC Crown ('09)

    5x So CON Crowns ('97-'01)

    4x Conference Coach of Year ('97, '98, '08, '09)

    The Yellow Jackets finally appeared in their first ever BCS bowl (‘09), and it was Paul Johnson’s option attack that caught so many ACC opponents by surprise.

    Johnson started off with an alarming 20-7 record (12-4 ACC), but he has since just gone 14-12 with two tough bowl losses.

    In fact, Johnson has been unable to win in the postseason (0-4), and many believe that that is because he allows the opposition to spend an extra amount of time defending the option. Gap assignment football is critical in college, when the average team only gets a week to prepare.

    Still, the speed of the ACC compared to the slate that Navy had (Johnson went 45-29) is completely different. The NFL players on defense have been able to slow down the Yellow Jackets, though they were second in the country for rushing last season (316 YPG).

    Johnson clearly needs his defensive players to perform much better, but even despite the recent struggles, he has given his program some serious fight.

    2012 Salary: $2.44 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A tad under $2.44 million

Charlie Weis, Kansas

29 of 50

    Current Record: 35-27

    Charlie Weis had a successful early start to his tenure while at Notre Dame, but it ended on a terrible note, as it suffered 21 losses in three seasons.

    Although they did play in BCS bowls in his first two seasons, the defense wasn’t the same, and their hyped offense never panned out.

    Weis has had success in the NFL with the New England Patriots (Chiefs and Giants as well) thanks to his development of quarterbacks.

    Taking over for a struggling Kansas program will be a chore, and bringing in several of his former recruited players at ND will hopefully end well. If not, he may have a few consecutive seasons in the basement of the improved Big 12.

    While Weis is still an offensive master, many question his ability to coach at the collegiate level (remember when Corso nailed it and said "terrible move"?), which is just the smallest of concerns for this Jayhawks team.

    2012 Salary: $2.5 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: A bit under $2.5 million

Art Briles, Baylor

30 of 50

    Current Record: 25-25 (59-54)

    1x Conference Crown ('06)

    2x Division Crown ('06, '07)

    Bringing Baylor home its first ever Heisman winner (thanks for the memories, RG3) brought the nation quite the excitement (going 15-22 the previous three seasons was no fun).

    Art Briles and his offense were unstoppable, and we will all find out how much of a drop-off there is without Mr. Heisman around.

    Robert Griffin III meant everything for this squad last season, but the superstar couldn’t also play defense, and they were absolutely gashed against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

    Briles is not coaching a program loaded with the best players in the country. That is no disrespect to the Bears, but rather, respect for the powerhouses such as Oklahoma and Texas, who will always have an edge (in more ways than one).

    Note: Briles is entering just his fourth season in Waco.

    2012 Salary: $2.5 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.5 million is fair after last season

Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

31 of 50

    Current Record: 60-19

    2x Big Ten Crowns ('10, '11)

    1x Big Ten Coach of Year ('06)

    3x Top 10 Finishes in Final AP ('06, '10, '11)

    Arguably the most underrated coach in the country these days deserves a few more big bucks down the road (and that is after his extension).

    One does not play in Pasadena very often in their lives, and yet Bret Bielema has taken the Badgers twice.

    The victories are starting to pile up—similar to the amount of yards and touchdowns by one Montee Ball—but the dominance up front has been staggering.

    No team outside the SEC has done it with as much success, and for that, Bielema is quietly ranking himself among the more accomplished in the country.

    2012 Salary: $2.5 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.5 million is not enough

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

32 of 50

    Current Record: 21-17

    Dan Mullen came off that No. 15 ranking two seasons ago, and for that, the expectations were raised to seemingly an all-time high last season.

    The struggles came right out of the gates. An early heartbreaking loss to Auburn set them back a tad, but Mullen and his Bulldogs should gain experience when it next gets into crunch time.

    The offensive spread system needed some tweaking—as Chris Relf was not the answer—but Tyler Russell and future signal-callers should excite and improve the team.

    The only issue is that this is still the top conference in America, and there are no cakewalks.

    We may see a bowl bid every season, but finishing anything higher than in the middle in the West might be too much to ask for at the moment. Most realize that, since Mullen has made this team bowl contenders every season.

    2012 Salary: $2.65 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.65 million is fair

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

33 of 50

    Current Record: 19-8

    Florida State had quite the preseason hype last season...and they never lived up to it.

    Jimbo Fisher deserved some of the blame for his inability to kick-start or develop any sort of a running game (some prefer to blame Rick Trickett), but his defense grew up and played some inspired football when the offense could not muster anything (see: Champs Sports Bowl).

    Fisher can still be one of the premier coaches in the country because he has now had consecutive dream-come-true recruiting seasons. That defense is only going to get better in the immediate future (think tops in America).

    Look for Jimbo to finally appear in a BCS bowl (offense has star talent), and if he can find ways to catch a few breaks along the way, he may exceed expectations in 2012.

    2012 Salary: $2.75 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.75 million is more than fair for now

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

34 of 50

    Current Record: 39-16

    Nebraska has been on the verge of breaking through and becoming a BCS bid stealer. With its diehard fanbase, most would think a top-10 ranking would almost bank them for a beautiful destination in January.

    However, they have continued to come up short (two tough Big 12 title losses) since 2008. The program has won 38 games in that span, but they are still attempting to end their decade-long (11 years) drought of falling short of a top-10 finish in the polls (finished seventh in '01).

    Bo Pelini is known nationwide for his quick outbursts on the sidelines (which get blown way out of proportion), but the guy wants to win as much as any coach out there.

    Perhaps another season of four or more losses will occur, but the slightly lowered expectations could be just what the doctor ordered (Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin all picked ahead).

    2012 Salary: $2.78 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says:  $2.8 million or slightly under  

Chip Kelly, Oregon

35 of 50

    Current Record: 34-6

    3x Conference Crowns ('09-'11)

    2x Conference Coach of Year ('09, '10)

    This offensive genius has not allowed the rest of college football to slow down his offense that lights up the scoreboard on Saturdays every fall.

    Whether the Ducks are in Eugene or not, Chip Kelly and Oregon are flying as high as it gets these days.

    Posting three consecutive double-digit-win seasons deserves more praise because it includes an appearance in the BCS National Championship and a pair of trips to Pasadena.

    Finally winning in the postseason was huge for the Ducks' momentum—and, more importantly, Kelly—because a third straight bowl loss would have made for a grueling offseason.

    The speed he brought in has been entertaining, and the offensive philosophy that he continues to develop will help tack on more conference titles and BCS bids.

    Chip is a genius right now, and the best is still yet to come.

    2012 Salary: $2.8 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Over $2.8 million 

Mark Richt, Georgia

36 of 50

    Current Record: 106-38

    2x SEC Crowns ('02, '05)

    5x SEC East Crowns ('02, '03, '05, '07, '11)

    2x SEC Coach of Year ('02, '05)

    The Georgia Bulldogs are awaiting a banner season with Mark Richt as their leader, and many are looking forward to the season thanks to nearly the entire team returning.

    Richt has taken the Dawgs to two Sugar Bowl victories ('02, '07), but playing for the whole ball of wax is something this SEC squad has yet to accomplish.

    Many have criticized Richt for failing to live up to most of the expectations, and this upcoming season will tell a whole lot. My survey says he has an excellent chance at having a monster season thanks to hauling his superstars back to Athens for one more go-around.

    2012 Salary: $2.9 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Just under $2.9 million

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

37 of 50

    Current Record: 16-10 (69-32)

    2x DII Coach of Year ('02, ‘03)

    3x Big East Coach of Year ('07-'09)

    3x Conference Crowns (FBS)

    Brian Kelly has one of the greatest jobs in America being able to coach the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but many of us are aware of the often impossible expectations that come with it.

    Every coach is well aware before they sign on the dotted line, and that is part of being paid a magical price to coach the Golden Domers.

    The national fanbase and electricity the team brings every season is one of the best in the country, and that is what makes this job so glamorous (money speaks, too).

    Brian Kelly landed his dream job thanks to a boatload of success at Grand Valley State and Cincinnati, where he went 152-41-2 (78 percent). That also included two FCS national championships and two Big East crowns (with two BCS bids).

    Now, Kelly just needs his offensive smarts to wear off on his players a bit more (or catch more of that Irish luck), since nobody enjoys consecutive 8-5 seasons in South Bend.    

    2012 Salary: $3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Just under $3 million

Gary Patterson, TCU

38 of 50

    Current Record: 109-30

    5x Conference Crowns ('02, '05, '09-'11)

    1x AP National Coach of Year ('09)

    It was just a few seasons ago when ESPN ranked Gary Patterson as the top coach in America, and others have since moved him down a few notches.

    Gary Patterson is only two years removed from an undefeated 13-win season with his Horned Frogs, but this defensive guru will be challenged by the Big 12’s high-octane machines.

    Still, Patterson has never come up short during his coaching career, and he will take all challenges head on due to his exceptionally successful history.

    2012 Salary: $3.22 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: Over $3.22 million  

Will Muschamp, Florida

39 of 50

    Current Record: 7-6

    Will Muschamp has been a defensive guru his whole career, but the Gators should be pleased with both the talent he has hauled in already and the ones that he is turning into future NFL stars.

    On defense alone, they should be dynamite, and thus, it is really up to the progression of the offense to give them a shot at appearing in future BCS bowls.

    However, Muschamp has helped every program he has been at thanks to being one of the better defensive-minded coaches (defensive coordinator before last year) in the country.

    Even in the ultra-competitive SEC, the Gators have major upside with their defensive stars that continue to reload. The likes of Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina (Mizzou, Vandy too) do not seem to be ruling the East.

    Plus, despite the lack of experience as a head coach, we should expect Muschamp to slowly make this team BCS-bid contenders in the near future.

    2012 Salary: $3.22 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.22 million is fair  

Brady Hoke, Michigan

40 of 50

    Current Record: 11-2 (58-52)

    3x Conference Coach of Year ('08, '10, '11)

    This Fred Flintstone lookalike absolutely went bonkers in Ann Arbor last season. The expectations were not too drastic for his first season, but they just might be now, heading into the 2012 season.

    Brady Hoke gave Michigan its first defeat over Ohio State in what was a terrible drought of 2,926 days.

    Certainly Hoke has seen success at his two previous jobs (Ball State, San Diego State), but it is a whole different animal when we speak of the Maize and Blue.

    Even more success will likely come in time, but with great achievements often come letdowns (especially at the winningest program ever), and this season will be a tough challenge.

    On paper, this team could improve upon last season, but the schedule should be much tougher despite avoiding Wisconsin again (at least pre-Big Ten title).

    Hoke is the player’s coach that will always find ways to motivate his players, and he puts no individual on a pedestal. He will need to live up to those standards to improve upon a steady resume thus far.

    2012 Salary: $3.25 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.25 million or slightly over   

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

41 of 50

    Current Record: 59-30

    1x Big 12 Crown (2011)

    1x Big 12 Coach of Year (2011)

    Mike Gundy has put this team back on top after appearing in the program’s first BCS bowl. A BCS title run was fun until Iowa State stunned them.

    Still, Gundy’s offense has finished in the top 20 five times while finishing in the top seven four times. Posting a 23-3 record over the last two seasons has made the entire country aware of just how dangerous this program has become in the Big 12 (and nationally).

    The Pokes' offensive system is simply better than most of the country. It doesn't matter who is spinning back in the pocket thanks to an array of playmakers that could make nearly any signal-caller look impressive.

    Gundy is more than just a man at the age of 44, but he is one that will not vanish.  

    2012 Salary: $3.3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.3 million or slightly over   

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

42 of 50

    Current Record: 55-35 (197-75-2)

    1x National Championship ('96)

    9x Conference Coach of Year ('88-'91, '94-'96, '99, '00, '10)

    7x Conference Crowns ('89, '91, '93-'96, '00)

    Steve Spurrier just put together the greatest two-year span in South Carolina’s history (a former SEC bottom-feeder is now officially a threat). The former Gator coach is still waiting to get over the hump in the SEC in terms of the ultimate dream: BCS.

    Obviously, an appearance in the BCS title game outweighs a bid to a normal BCS bowl, but the Gamecocks have the pieces to challenge with superstars Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney.

    Even if the stars are not aligned on paper schedule-wise, we know Spurrier will back down from nobody and battle his brains out in the process.

    2012 Salary: $3.3 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.3 million or slightly over   

Gene Chizik, Auburn

43 of 50

    Current Record: 30-10 (35-29)

    1x BCS National Championship (2010)

    1x SEC Coach of Year (2010)

    1x SEC Crown (2010)

    Broyles Award (2004)

    Gene Chizik put together quite the magical run with Cam Newton as his quarterback in 2010, but the guy has not been garbage by any means in his other two seasons with the Tigers.

    A pair of 8-5 seasons is solid in the SEC and going 3-0 in the bowls makes things seem that much more accomplished.

    Chizik is ready to once again break through in the SEC, and the hope is he will get several opportunities to appear in a few SEC titles and BCS bowls.

    2012 Salary: $3.5 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.5 million or slightly over   

Les Miles, LSU

44 of 50

    Current Record: 75-18 (103-39) 

    1x BCS National Championship ('07)

    2x SEC Crowns ('07, '11)

    3x SEC West Crowns ('05, '07, '11)

    1x AFCA FBS Coach of Year ('11)

    "The Mad Hatter” has been one of the most successful coaches in the BCS era thanks to his tough, physical presence alongside his Bayou Bengals.

    Les Miles is a positive coach that seems to have the swagger every coach wishes they had—based simply on the fact that when he talks, you just have to listen (maybe because you don’t know what he will say).

    The defensive stalwarts he has hauled on the recruiting trail is absurd, and many feel he will get plenty of opportunities to seek revenge against Alabama and Nick Saban.

    Those two programs will likely battle for many future West crowns on top of BCS bids, but Miles will get his fair share of successful shots at the end of the day.

    2012 Salary: $3.86 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $4.25 million or slightly over   

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

45 of 50

    Current Record: 96-66

    2x Big Ten Crowns ('02, '04)

    2x BCS Bowls ('02, '09)

    3x Big Ten Coach of Year ('02, '04, '09)

    Before Kirk Ferentz took over for the Hawkeyes, it was Hayden Fry’s legacy along with Niles Kinnick's (1939 Heisman) that most of the nation only knew about.

    The football program had many tough seasons before and at the start of the Ferentz era (7-27 from ’98-’00), but we saw a quick and dramatic improvement.

    The Hawkeyes finished eighth in both polls for three straight seasons (’02-‘04) by posting a ridiculous 31-7 record.

    Their first ever BCS bid made for quite the season, but they did return in 2009 thanks to a disciplined team that had tremendous line play.

    After hovering around .500 for the last two seasons, many are questioning the program’s status, but Ferentz has proven several times he can right the ship back into Big Ten contention.

    2012 Salary: $3.875 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $2.875 million or slightly under   

Lane Kiffin, USC

46 of 50

    Current Record: 18-7 (25-13)

    Still known as one of the more drama-filled coaches in the country thanks to his Oakland Raider and Tennessee Volunteer days, Lane Kiffin is coming off one sensational season in which his Trojans finished sixth in the final AP Poll.

    Keeping a USC squad motivated when it knew it could not compete for a Pac-12 or BCS title deserves plenty of credit.

    Kiffin has turned the corner in his coaching career, and he could be in for a home run of a season if he can find a way to take in all the publicity and fame his team is already starting to enjoy.

    Note: USC and Notre Dame do not allow the public to view salaries, but this annual report is from one HBO’s Bryant Gumbel.

    2012 Salary: $4 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $3.5 million or slightly under   

Urban Meyer, Ohio State

47 of 50

    Current Record: 104-23

    2x BCS National Championship ('06, '08)

    4x Conference Crowns ('03-'04, '06, '08)

    3x Conference Coach of Year ('01, '03-'04)

    Urban Meyer is finally back after a season-long hiatus, and the hope is that he will soon put the Buckeyes back on the national map.

    Those Buckeyes are coming off a brutal 6-7 season in which the passing offense was ranked No. 115 and averaged a pedestrian 127 yards per game.

    Meyer’s spread offense was nearly unstoppable at Florida with that southpaw slinging it all over the place.

    Ohio State may not be eligible to compete for a Big Ten or BCS crown this season, but the future looks brighter than ever before thanks to one of the more accomplished, dominant coaches in the BCS era.

    2012 Salary: $4 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $4 million or slightly over   

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

48 of 50

    Current Record: 139-34

    1x National Championship ('00)

    7x Big 12 Championships ('00, '02, '04, '06, '07, '08, '10)

    1x AP National Coach of Year ('00)

    Bob Stoops is still looking for his second national title, but that does not diminish the fact that he is the most successful coaches in the BCS era.

    Stoops is one of the greatest Sooner coaches ever (Wilkinson, Switzer, Owen) thanks to winning over 10 games on seven separate occasions (10.69 per year).

    Norman is thankful for the eight BCS bids he has landed them. However, with the expectations always set extremely high, anything short of a trip to the BCS is a bit of a disappointment.

    Luckily, he has spoiled the school by becoming the only program to play in all four BCS bowls (including the title), and the talent he brings in every season will only allow them to return to many of those prestigious destinations.

    2012 Salary: $4.55 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $4.55 million or slightly under   

Mack Brown, Texas

49 of 50

    Current Record: 141-39 (221-108-1)

    1x BCS National Championship ('05)

    2x Big 12 Crowns ('05, '09)

    2x Big 12 Coach of Year ('05, '09)

    5x Big 12 South Crowns ('99, '01, 02, '05, '09)

    Some have put Mack Brown in the mini-hot seat, but that is only because of the lofty expectations in Austin.

    When one program defeats one of the most talented teams in college football history (USC, ’05), expectations will quickly become devastatingly difficult for most coaches to live up to.

    However, Mack Brown craves the success and often the attention because he has done it so well as the man in charge of the Longhorns football program.

    Brown has a star-studded coaching staff, and a few huge recruiting classes are putting this program back on the brink of BCS status.

    While some recent struggles are tough for the Burnt Orange faithful (13-2 last two seasons), we have seen constant success overall thanks to Brown’s swarming defenses (and he had a few iconic QBs in Vince Young and Colt McCoy).

    Posting nine 10-win seasons sounds great, but many are expecting more. That starts with another 10-plus-victory season.   

    2012 Salary: $5.2 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $4.2 million or slightly under   

Nick Saban, Alabama

50 of 50

    Current Record: 50-12 (141-54-1)

    3x BCS National Championships ('03, '09, '11)

    3x SEC Championships ('01, '03, '09)

    5x SEC West Division Crowns ('01-'03, '08-'09)

    2x AP National Coach of the Year ('03, '08)

    3x SEC Coach of Year ('03, '08-'09)

    Those are just a few of the accomplishments because Nick Saban is coaching like a man possessed these days.

    The ability to haul in top-notch recruiting classes is legit, but his ability to coach them up and turn his teams into the most prepared, motivated, physical and arguably the smartest in the entire country is incredible.

    Saban is fully capable of winning at least a few more SEC and BCS crowns, because quite frankly, the guy is above the competition right now.

    The Crimson Tide have been unstoppable, and both sides of the line of scrimmage are relentless.

    Those All-Americans may be gone on defense, but three-fifths of their offensive line are All-Americans. We all just know Saban will reload and transform his defense into a top-10 unit every single season.

    Love or hate him, this current-day legend enjoys nothing more than the challenges his program is given.

    2012 Salary: $5.32 million

    Danny V’s Wallet Says: $5.32 million or slightly over

    Follow Dan Vasta on Twitter.