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How Rich Are the Top College Football Coaches?

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Charles Baus/CSM / Shutterstock.com

College football is front and center this week, with the College Football Playoff championship game set for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis. It features Georgia and Alabama in a rematch of the 2017 championship game, won by Alabama.

The focus also is on the coaches leading the teams – Nick Saban of Alabama and one of his former high-level assistant coaches, Kirby Smart of Georgia. The two are in the upper echelon of their profession, both with the success on the field and at the bank.

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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.

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12. Ryan Day

  • School: Ohio State
  • Net Worth: $3 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.

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11. 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 77-42 record.

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10. Mike Leach

  • School: Mississippi State
  • Net Worth: $8 million

Mike Leach started his head-coaching career in 2000 at Texas Tech and departed after the 2009 season. He later spent eight seasons at Washington State (2012-19) before heading to Mississippi State in 2020. His career record is 150-103, but only 11-13 with the Bulldogs.

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9. Kirby Smart

  • School: Georgia
  • Net Worth: $9 million

Kirby Smart had Georgia in position to win the 2017 national championship, but the Bulldogs squandered a 13-0 halftime lead and lost to Alabama in overtime, 26-23. Smart won his first of two Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year awards that season.

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8. Scott Frost

  • School: Nebraska
  • Net Worth: $12 million

Scott Frost quarterbacked Nebraska to an undefeated season and the national championship as a senior in 1997. The Cornhuskers haven’t won another one since, and Nebraska fans expect better. Frost is 15-29 in his four seasons leading Nebraska, and he will return in 2022 in what could be a make-or-break year.

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7. 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.

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6. Jimbo Fisher

  • School: Texas A&M
  • Net Worth: $13 million

Jimbo Fisher is the first of three 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.

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5. Kirk Ferentz

  • School: Iowa
  • Net Worth: $16 million

Kirk Ferentz is the longest-tenured head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, completing his 23rd season at Iowa in 2021. The Hawkeyes have a 178-110 record since Ferentz became head coach in 1999.

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4. Lincoln Riley

  • School: Southern California
  • Net Worth: $20 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.

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3. Chip Kelly

  • School: UCLA
  • Net Worth: $25 million

Chip Kelly achieved success as head coach at Oregon from 2009-12, leading the Ducks to a 46-7 record and four bowl games. He jumped to the NFL in 2013 and couldn’t match his college success in four seasons. UCLA hired him before the 2018 season, but the Bruins are 18-25 during the Kelly era.

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2. 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.

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1. Nick Saban, Alabama

  • School: Alabama
  • Net Worth: $60 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 2020 season) to win seven.

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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 who 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 Jan. 4, 2022.