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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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 16:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Ole Miss Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    GAINESVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 14:  Former defensive coordinator for the University of Texas, Will Muschamp speaks to the media after being introduced as the head coach of the University of Florida on December 14, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  Muschamp is re
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    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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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Arkansas Razorbacks reacts in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    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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    ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates their 42-34 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Jim Grobe of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons watches his team play the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  University of Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz looks on from the sideline during pre game warm ups before game action against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    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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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/G
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts to a field goal during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo b
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    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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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Bob Stoops looks on while taking on the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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 ESPN.com, things are looking good for the Sooners next year as well. 

2. Mack Brown, Texas

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    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns during a game against the UCLA Bruins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on from the sideline during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martin
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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.

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