College football returns to the spotlight with the season under way, with the first major kickoff set for Saturday, Sept. 3.
Not surprisingly, some of the most successful – and rich – coaches in college football are at the helm of many of the preseason title contenders. The coaches of the top four teams in the Associated Press and coaches’ preseason polls – Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney – also make the list of the college football coaches with the highest net worths.
Just how wealthy are some of college football’s coaches? GOBankingRates reviewed their earnings, and net worths, to determine their rankings. And No. 1 on the list probably won’t come as a surprise.
12. Lane Kiffin
- School: Mississippi
- Net Worth: $6 million
Lane Kiffin was just 32 when he debuted as head coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in 2007, but the youth movement didn’t last long. He was fired four games into his second season with an overall 5-15 record. He’s found a home in college football, though, leading Tennessee, Southern California, Florida Atlantic and now Mississippi to a combined 76-41 record.
11. Ryan Day
- School: Ohio State
- Net Worth: $7.6 million
Ohio State hired Ryan Day as head coach in December 2018, and when the Buckeyes won the Big Ten championship in 2019 and 2020, Day became the first coach to win the conference title in his first two years leading the storied program. He is under contract through the 2026 season.
10. Mario Cristobal
- School: Miami (Fla.)
- Net Worth: $8 million
Cristobal coached Oregon to a 35-13 record in 4-plus years as head coach, plus a 2-2 record in bowls, before jumping to take over his alma mater, Miami. Expectations are high for the Hurricanes.
9. David Shaw
- School: Stanford
- Net Worth: $9 million
David Shaw has been head coach at Stanford since 2011, compiling a 93-45 record and going 5-3 in bowls. He’s only the second Stanford coach to win two Rose Bowls, which builds him lots of credit among Cardinal fans, but might be feeling a little heat coming off three consecutive losing seasons.
7 (tie). Brian Kelly
- School: LSU
- Net Worth: $9.5 million
Kelly’s move from Notre Dame (after 11 seasons) to LSU might have been the most shocking coaching move of the offseason. Kelly went 92-39 with the Fighting Irish, reaching the College Football Playoff twice. Tigers fans expect similar results, and quickly.
7 (tie). Mel Tucker
- School: Michigan State
- Net Worth: $9.5 million
Tucker is entering his third season at his alma mater, Michigan State, and is early in a staggering 10-year, $95 million extension. He took the Spartans to a 31-21 victory over Pitt in the Peach Bowl, capping their first 11-win season since 2015.
6. James Franklin
- School: Penn State
- Net Worth: $12 million
In November 2021, with rumors swirling that James Franklin was a leading candidate for head coaching jobs across the country, Penn State locked up its coach for the next decade. Franklin signed a contract worth a guaranteed $70 million that could reach $85 million.
5. Jimbo Fisher
- School: Texas A&M
- Net Worth: $13 million
Jimbo Fisher is the first of four coaches on the list to have led a team to a national championship, accomplishing the feat in 2013 with Florida State. He left the Seminoles and headed to Texas A&M in 2018, lured by a 10-year, $75 million contract. In 2021, the university gave him a contract extension that will keep in College Station through 2031.
4. Kirby Smart
- School: Georgia
- Net Worth: $25 million
Kirby Smart is coming off a season when he led Georgia to its first national championship since 1980, a 33-18 victory over Alabama. Smart signed a 10-year, $112.5 million deal in July 2022, making him the highest-paid coach in college football.
3 (tie). Lincoln Riley
- School: Southern California
- Net Worth: $30 million
At just 38, Lincoln Riley is the youngest coach on the list. A native of Texas, he spent the past five seasons as head coach of Oklahoma before being tabbed for the same role at USC on Nov. 28, 2021. The Sooners won 85% of his games as head coach, earning four Big 12 titles, playing in four New Year’s Six bowls and appearing in three College Football Playoffs.
3 (tie). Dabo Swinney
- School Clemson
- Net Worth: $30 million
The Tigers played in four national championship games in five seasons under Dabo Swinney between 2015 and 2019. They won two.
2. Jim Harbaugh
- School: Michigan
- Net Worth: $35 million
Harbaugh has been coach of the Wolverines since 2015, beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten and taking Michigan to the College Football Playoff for the first time. Before Michigan, he was head coach at San Diego, Stanford and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
1. Nick Saban
- School: Alabama
- Net Worth: $70 million
Alabama’s head coach since 2007, Nick Saban led the Crimson Tide to six national championships in his first 14 seasons. Saban won his first title with LSU in 2003 and is the only coach in modern Bowl Subdivision history (through the 2021 season) to win seven.
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George Malone contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: For this piece GOBankingRates looked at USAToday’s “Who are the highest-paid college football coaches?” 2021 data and sourced all head college football coaches that were paid above $5 million AND are still currently employed as a head football coach at the NCAA Division I level. With these qualifying coaches isolated, GOBankingRates then found each coach’s net worth from CelebrityNetWorth.com. All data was collected and is up to date as of August 25, 2022.