Winning isn’t everything: It’s the only thing that gets college football coaches the biggest paychecks. Now we know just how big.
Success on and off the field means windfalls comparable to those earned by chief executives of multinational companies, according to a Bloomberg analysis of employment contracts provided by the schools.
“Top football coaches run big enterprises,” said Jed Hughes, a vice chairman at executive recruiter and leadership advisory firm Korn/Ferry International and a former coach for teams including the Michigan Wolverines and Pittsburgh Steelers. “Coaches and CEOs alike must be able to engage and inspire, and create a climate in which people are motivated to do their best.”
To see how coaches at the top-ranked public programs in the U.S. stack up against chief executives in their states, we calculated how much they’d earn if their teams won conference and national championships and excelled academically. We then compared those figures with the 2015 reported compensation for CEOs of publicly traded companies.
Here are the results among universities at the top of the Associated Press pre-season poll.*
Nick Saban, University of Alabama
AP Poll rank: 1
Potential payout: $7.7 million
A repeat of last year’s victories in the BCS and SEC title games for the Crimson Tide would put Saban’s take-home pay just below what HealthSouth Corp. chief Jay Grinney received last year. The provider of post-acute health care services has a $3.61 billion market value and employs about 34,700 people. Saban’s contract includes a $6 million life insurance policy and a $23.3 million golden parachute if he’s let go after this season.
Dabo Swinney, Clemson University
AP Poll rank: 2
Potential payout: $5.9 million
If the Tigers claim the national championship, Swinney could surpass all but a handful of bosses at South Carolina’s biggest public companies. Kevin Marsh, CEO of energy business Scana Corp., which delivers electricity to about 700,000 customers, was the fourth highest-paid chief executive last year in the state with $5.7 million in reported compensation. Clemson pays $800,000 annually for the right to use Swinney’s name and picture on football paraphernalia.
Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma
AP Poll rank: 3
Potential payout: $6.7 million (2014 contract)
A national title would be the Sooners’s first in 16 years and the second under Stoops. While his new contract hasn’t been made public, his previous agreement entitled him to a maximum take-home of about $6.7 million. That tops Randy Foutch, chief of oil and gas explorer Laredo Petroleum Inc., who was the state’s ninth best-paid public company boss last year with $6.3 million. Stoops gets $600,000 annually for appearing at fundraising and promotional events unrelated to athletics.