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

    After the retirement of Nick Saban, there is a new name at the top of the highest-paid college football head coaches list in 2024.

    While the House vs NCAA case will shed some light on the murky details of if, when, and how revenue is shared among players, there is one thing that remains certain no matter the outcome — college coaches are going to get paid.

    In fact, there’s a new face at the top of the summit for the highest-paid college football coach following Alabama coach Nick Saban’s retirement. As the rich get richer, who are the top 10 highest-paid college football head coaches in 2024?

    Highest-Paid College Football Head Coaches

    Saban capped his legendary run at the helm of the Alabama Crimson Tide following the 2023 season, making a reported $11.41 million his final campaign. Seven national championships, 11 SEC championships, and a 209-29 record over 17 years in Tuscaloosa earned him the designation of best-paid coach in college football before he hung it up.

    Trailing just behind him last year were Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($10.88 million per year) and Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($10.7 million). Now Swinney and Smart overtake the top two spots of the highest-paid college football head coaches in 2024, with a switch at the very top following a contract extension in the spring.

    Two of the other top 10 highest-paid coaches from last year are no longer listed after both were dismissed — Michigan State’s Mel Tucker ($10.1 million) and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. While Fisher received his $75 million buyout from the Aggies, Tucker’s $79 million buyout from the Spartans is in limbo. Tucker is disputing in court the school’s claim it terminated his contract with cause, a claim that relieves Michigan State from paying him.

    With 12 names in the top 10 due to a three-way tie for the ninth spot, let’s dive into the top 10 highest-paid college football head coaches in 2024.

    10) Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss Rebels: $8.75 million

    After enjoying the program’s first 11-win season in 2023, Lane Kiffin signed a contract extension set to pay him $8.75 million annually. While bonuses and other aspects of the deal could propel him higher, that base salary lands him in the final spot of the top 10 highest-paid college football coaches. Kiffin has led the Rebels to a 34-15 record in four seasons at the helm.

    T9) Mark Stoops, Kentucky Wildcats: $9 million

    After his name was floated as a potential replacement for Fisher at Texas A&M, Mark Stoops quickly received an extension from Kentucky last November. His new contract pays him $9 million annually until 2031 and squeaks him into the top 10 after leading the Wildcats to seven winning records over the last eight seasons. Stoops is 73-65 in 11 seasons with the Wildcats.

    T9) Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri: $9 million

    The 2023 SEC Coach of the Year, Eli Drinkwitz, moves into the top 10 following a December contract extension. After leading the Tigers to an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory, Drinkwitz’s pay increased from $6.25 million in 2024 through 2026 to $9 million through 2028. Drinkiwitz is 28-21 in four seasons with the Tigers.

    T9) Josh Heupel, Tennessee Volunteers: $9 million

    Josh Heupel’s contract with the Tennessee Volunteers was extended in 2023, paying him $9 million annually. He was initially paid $4 million in 2021, his first season leading the program, then $5 million in 2022 before the significant raise on a deal through 2029. Heupal is 27-12 in three seasons with the Volunteers, posting 9-4 and 11-2 records the last two seasons.

    8) Brian Kelly, LSU Tigers: $9.6 million

    Brian Kelly was handed a 10-year contract, $95-million contract to leave the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2021. On contract through 2031, Kelly is set to make $9.6 million in 2024. Since arriving in Baton Rouge, he has led the Tigers to a 20-7 record and presided over QB Jayden Daniels’ 2023 Heisman season.

    7) Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes: $10.3 million

    Ohio State head coach Ryan Day signed an extension in 2022 that brought his salary to $9.5 million through 2028, and then he received further raises in 2023 and 2024 to $10.3 million. Day is eligible for a salary increase every February, which was honored after three consecutive 11-win seasons. He is 56-8 with two Big Ten championships in five seasons with the Buckeyes.

    6) Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles: $10.52 Million

    Following a 13-1 season in which the Flordia State Seminoles were robbed of a College Football Playoff appearance, Mike Norvell signed a contract extension that nearly doubled his salary and will keep him in Tallahassee through 2031. Norvell’s salary went from $5.5 million to $10.52 million annually with the potential to surpass $11 million annually across its duration.

    MORE: Longest Tenured College Football Head Coaches

    Since taking over at Florida State in 2021, Norvell has posted a 31-17 record, including winning the ACC Championship last season.

    5) Steve Sarkisian, Texas: $10.64 million

    Steve Sarkisian signed a new four-year contract extension that nearly doubled his salary after leading the Texas Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship and the College Football Playoff in 2023. The deal earns Sarkisian $10.3 million annually, and a $300,000 payment received on April 1 will net him $10.6 million in 2024. He is 25-14 after three seasons in Austin.

    4) Kalen DeBoer, Alabama Crimson Tide: $10.875 million

    Kalen DeBoer is being paid handsomely to replace legendary Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. He is bringing in a whopping $10.875 million on a contract through 2031, a significant increase from the $4.2 million DeBoer made last year at Washington.

    He led the Huskies to a national championship appearance in 2023, posting a 25-3 record in two seasons at Washington.

    3) Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans: $11 million

    Lincoln Riley reportedly signed a $110 million deal in 2021 with an estimated annual salary of $11 million per year that could increase depending on several factors. Unsurprisingly, given the resources at USC, Riley has been able to parlay his reputation as a quarterback whisperer into a lucrative contract to lead the Trojans. Riley is 19-8 in three seasons with the Trojans.

    2) Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers: $11.5 million

    Dabo Swinney had a short-lived stint as the highest-paid coach in college football following Saban’s retirement. After signing a massive 10-year deal in 2022, he’s set to make $11.5 million in 2024.

    KEEP READING: Full List of College Football Head Coach Salaries

    In 17 seasons in charge of the Clemson Tigers, Swinney is 170-43 with two national championships and eight ACC titles.

    1) Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs: $13 million

    Kirby Smart is now the highest-paid coach in the business after an enormous extension signed in May that pays him $13 million annually until 2033, per an announcement from the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Two national championships, two SEC championships, and a 94-16 career record land the three-time SEC coach of the year at the apex of the top 10 highest-paid college football head coaches in 2024.

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