College football coaching salaries: Dabo Swinney making $500K more than Nick Saban in 2019

You will not be shocked to learn that the two most recent national title-winning coaches are also the two highest-paid coaches in college football.

Thanks to his mammoth contract extension signed this offseason, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is the highest-paid coach in college football in 2019. His total pay of just over $9.3 million is approximately $500,000 more than Nick Saban’s total pay of $8.8 million this season.

The salaries of Swinney, Saban and every other public school coach in the country (along with a few private coach salaries) were published Tuesday as part of USA Today’s annual college football coach salary database. Swinney and Saban are the only coaches who are making over $8 million in 2019; Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is third with a total pay of just over $7.5 million.

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Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and Georgia’s Kirby Smart round out the top five. With Auburn’s Gus Malzahn at No. 6 and Florida’s Dan Mullen at No. 10, the SEC has five of the 10 highest-paid coaches in the country.

The most surprising coaching salary is Purdue’s Jeff Brohm. He checks in at No. 8 in the list — a spot ahead of Lincoln Riley — thanks to the contract extension he signed with the school after spurning his alma mater Louisville.

Dabo Swinney (R) is making more than Nick Saban in 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Dabo Swinney (R) is making more than Nick Saban in 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

While Harbaugh has gotten heat because his Wolverines are 5-2 after losses to Wisconsin and Penn State this season, the coach in the top 20 of the database with he most treacherous future could be South Florida’s Charlie Strong. He’s the 16th-highest-paid coach in the country with an annual salary of $5 million. That’s more than TCU’s Gary Patterson, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and Washington’s Chris Petersen.

Strong is the highest-paid coach who isn’t in a Power Five conference. The lowest-paid Power Five coach is Indiana’s Tom Allen. He checks in at No. 71 on the list with a $1.8 million salary. Allen is making $60,000 less than North Texas’ Seth Littrell.

The lowest-paid coach in the Pac-12 is Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith ($1.9M), while the ACC’s least-paid coach is Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson ($2.2M). The coach with the lowest salary int he Big 12 is Chris Klieman ($2.3M) at Kansas State while Missouri’s Barry Odom and Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead are tied for the lowest-paid coach in the SEC ($3M).

Lowest-paid is a relative descriptor, of course. Both Moorhead and Odom are making a tad over $3 million and both rank in the top 50 of all college football coaches.

The lowest-paid coach in the country is Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell. He has an annual salary of $360,000. Coastal Carolina beat Kansas earlier this season. The Jayhawks are coached by former LSU coach Les Miles, a man who is making nearly eight times as much as Chadwell is.

Chadwell is ranked 122nd on the list. There are 130 FBS football teams and the salaries of Rice’s Mike Bloomgren, Temple’s Rod Carey, Miami’s Manny Diaz, BYU’s Kalani Sitake, Liberty’s Hugh Freeze, SMU’s Sonny Dykes, Army’s Jeff Monken and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun are not listed.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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