Top 10 Highest-Paid College Football Head Coaches in 2024: Dabo Swinney, Kirby Smart Sit Atop the Rich List

After a raft of coaching changes and contract upgrades, who are the highest-paid college football head coaches ahead of the 2024 season?

The lives of college football head coaches are hard work, and some are compensated handsomely for it. That’s because being a college football head coach is more than what happens on the field. Head coaches have to deal with so much in the modern era, from coaching, recruiting, NIL, and the transfer portal.

The list of highest-paid college football coaches includes some of the game’s biggest and most successful names. Find out who makes the top-10 in this comprehensive list.

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Highest-Paid College Football Head Coaches

The list of the highest-paid head coaches compiles data that has been disclosed, as well as reports from sources from media outlets. While public schools must declare employee salaries, private schools do not, leading to estimation and speculation for some head coaches at those institutions.

Additionally, many contracts in this list include yearly-ascending salaries and performance-related incentives. As such, the average annual salary is listed for the highest-paid college football head coaches.

1) Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers: $11.5 million

Dabo Swinney’s contract with the Clemson Tigers stretches until 2031, making him the highest-paid head coach in college football. Signing a 10-year, $115 million contract in 2022, Swinney earns an average of $11.5 million annually, with extra incentives also available.

2) Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs: $11.25 million

Georgia’s Kirby Smart is now college football’s second-highest-paid head coach. Smart’s contract pays him $112.5 million over 10 years and is one of the most lucrative in the game. Having won two National Championships, Georgia is paying substantially for its success, with Smart earning an average of $11.25 million per year before incentives.

3) Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes: $10.2 million

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day signed an extension in 2022 that brought his salary to $9.5 million through 2028. However, The Columbus Dispatch reports that Day received a 5.25% pay rise in 2023. As a result, he reportedly earns $10.2 million annually. Day is eligible for a salary increase every February.

4) Kalen DeBoer, Alabama Crimson Tide: $10 million

The exact details of Kalen DeBoer’s contract with Alabama have not been disclosed. However, it is reported that he will earn an average salary of $10 million over the contract term. DeBoer replaced legendary HC Nick Saban in January 2024 and has more than doubled his salary since leaving Washington for the Crimson Tide.

5) Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans: $10 million

Lincoln Riley’s contract makes him one of the highest-paid college football head coaches after he signed a $110 million deal in 2021. Based on the understanding that the contract length is 10 years, it was estimated that Riley took home $11 million annually. However, recent reports state that his salary is likely to be $10 million per year.

6) Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles: $10 Million

Mike Norvell signed a contract extension at the end of the 2023 season, which makes him one of the highest-paid head coaches in college football. The Athletic reports that the contract of the FSU head coach is for eight years and averages $10 million per year.

MORE: Longest Tenured College Football Head Coaches

After leading the Seminoles to an unbeaten regular season, Norvell had Florida State on the brink of the playoffs and was rewarded for his success.

7) Brian Kelly, LSU Tigers: $9.5 million

Brian Kelly became LSU head coach in 2021, leaving the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to join the Tigers. In Baton Rouge, Kelly was handed a 10-year contract estimated to pay him an annual salary of $9.5 million. However, Kelly has incentives in his deal that can see him earn much more than the reported salary amount.

8) Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss Rebels: $9 million

Lane Kiffin signed a contract extension following the Rebels’ 11-win season in 2023. While the exact terms of the contract are not fully disclosed, it is reported that Kiffin will earn a base salary of $8.75 million in 2024. He also received a $250,000 bonus on Jan. 1, as a retention bonus for the previous season. As a result, the Ole Miss head coach will earn $9 million in 2024.

9) Matt Rhule, Nebraska Cornhuskers: $9 million

While the exact details of Matt Rhule’s contract haven’t been disclosed, we know he signed a $72 million eight-year deal with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in November 2022.

MORE: List of Current FBS College Football Coaches

What makes Rhule’s contract complicated is that it increases incrementally with each year he is in Lincoln. Still, it is reported that the former Carolina Panther’s HC earns an average of $9 million over the entire deal.

10) Josh Heupel, Tennessee Volunteers: $9 million

Josh Heupel’s contract with the Tennessee Volunteers was extended in 2023, which sees him earn $9 million annually through 2029. The extension was a huge raise for the Vols head coach, who had earned $4 million on his previous deal.

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