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Top 10 Highest Paid College Football Coaches in 2023-24

Kate Sukhanova Senior Statistics Contributor Author expertise
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Given how huge and lucrative college football games are, it’s no surprise that the architects behind the top teams command hefty salaries. The 10 highest-paid college football coaches are a testament to this financial reality.

These coaches have a number of roles to play, including top talent recruiters, coaching staff managers, players’ academic supporters, and even PR.

Successful football programs can significantly boost a school’s visibility, attract prospective students, and increase funding – which is why these coaches earn significant amounts. Moreover, their work can prepare the athletes for the moment when they get drafted into the NFL.

As we examine the 10 highest-paid NCAA football coaches, we’ll dissect their history and examine their key achievements for their teams and beyond. Let’s dive in.

Top 10 Highest Paid NCAA Football Coaches 2023-24

top 10 highest paid NCAA football coaches 2023-2024
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Spoiler alert – all these NCAA football coaches took home over $8 million in 2023. Let’s find out more about them.


10. Josh Heupel

Earnings, 2023: $9 million

First up is the University of Tennessee NCAA football coach Josh Heupel. He moved to coach Tennessee in 2021 after three years of coaching the UCF Knights (University of Central Florida), where he compiled a 28-8 record.

Like many coaches, Heupel began his career as a college footballer. He was then drafted by the NFL but didn’t make the team due to an injury.

In 2023, Heupel extended his contract with the University of Tennessee, and he earned $9 million that year from his coaching activities.

9. Lane Kiffin

Earnings, 2023: $9 million

Number nine on our list is the Ole Miss Rebels NCAA football coach, Lane Kiffin. He joined the University of Mississippi in 2019 and was the first NCAA football coach to get his team 100% vaccinated against Covid-19.

Kiffin has been a football coach since 2005 when he started working with the USC Trojans. In 2007, he moved on to coach the Oakland Raiders for a year but returned to the Trojans in 2010, where he worked until 2013.

After brief stints with the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Atlantic Owls, Kiffin finally became the head coach of the Mississippi college team.

Thanks to his years of experience, Kiffin received a substantial salary of $9 million as the Ole Miss Rebels head coach in 2023.

8. Matt Rhule

Earnings, 2023: $9 million

The former NFL coach turned NCAA football coach Matt Rhule comes eighth on our list. He started his career as the linebackers coach at Albright College in 2003. He subsequently moved to coach the Owls at Temple in 2006 for six years and then the New York Giants as an assistant coach in 2012.

That season, the Giants won their first Super Bowl. Rhule currently coaches the football team at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln – a position he took in 2022.

Rhule’s 2023 earnings are on par with Kiffin’s. In his role as head NCAA football coach in Nebraska, he took home $9 million.

7. Ryan Day

Earnings, 2023: $9.25 million

Number seven is Ohio State NCAA football coach Ryan Day. Like Matt Rhule, he was an offensive coordinator at Temple and then with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Day was initially hired at Ohio State in 2017 as the quarterback coach but was promoted to head coach in 2019. In the 2021 season, which was Day’s third season as head coach, the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl, 48-45.

The Columbus-based coach made $9.25 million in salary in 2023, according to a report by Sportskeeda.

6. Brian Kelly

Earnings, 2023: $9.5 million

The LSU coach Brian Kelly has been coaching since 1987, when he joined GVSU as a graduate assistant. Since then, Kelly coached in four schools – Central Michigan (2004-2006), Cincinnati (2006-2009), Notre Dame (2010-2021), and Louisiana State University (2021-present day).

The LSU Tigers gave Kelly a 10-3 record at the end of the 2023 season after a 31-35 win against Wisconsin at the ReliaQuest Bowl.

By joining the LSU NCAA staff, Kelly gained a significant salary boost. In 2023, he reportedly earned $9.5 million.


5. Mike Norvell

Earnings, 2023: $10 million

Our top five highest-paid NCAA football coaches are opened by Florida State coach Mike Norvell. After four successful college football years, he went into coaching and coached at Memphis (2015-2019), after which he joined Florida.

Under his leadership, Florida State won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, and Norvell was named ACC Coach of the Year.

Norvell’s reported earnings in 2023 amount to $10 million. He’s the first coach on our list to earn over $9.5 million.

4. Lincoln Riley

Earnings, 2023: $10 million

Number four in our rating is the USC Trojans head coach, Lincoln Riley. He played quarterback in college but went into coaching rather than playing professionally. Riley began his coaching career at Texas Tech but then moved on to ECU and the University of Oklahoma, where he spent seven years.

It was there that he trained one of the richest NFL players to date – Kyler Murray. Interestingly enough, Riley also coached the fifth-richest NFL player, Jalen Hurts, in Oklahoma.

Riley started as head coach at the USC in 2021. Riley joined As of 2023, his earnings amounted to $10 million.

3. Kalen DeBoer

Earnings, 2023: $10 million

The bronze medal in our NCAA football coaches’ 2023 earnings competition goes to Kalen DeBoer. Like Lincoln Riley, he played football in college. His first position was as a high school football coach.

DeBoer subsequently joined Eastern Michigan University as offensive coordinator in 2014 and Fresno State in California in the 2020 season for the same position. In 2021, he was hired as the University of Washington head coach, where he was until January 2024, winning AP Coach of the Year. In January 2024, DeBoer joined the University of Alabama to coach The Crimson Tide.

Since he was coaching the Huskies in 2023, we’ll look at DeBoer’s salary with that team. Like Riley, Kalen DeBoer made $10 million in 2023.

2. Dabo Swinney

Earnings, 2023: $10.5 million

Unlike many coaches on our list, Dabo Swinney has been coaching a single team for most of his career. Although he started off in Alabama as a graduate assistant, in 2002, Swinney accepted the position of wide receivers coach at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Since then, he’s been promoted to head coach and is still serving the Clemson Tigers to this day. In the 2023 season, Swinney’s team took home the Gator Bowl trophy in a 38-35 match against Kentucky.

In 2023, DeBoer reportedly took home $10.5 million in salary – the first NCAA coach on our list to earn more than $10 million.

1. Kirby Smart

Earnings, 2023: $11.25 million

As of the end of 2023, the best-paid NCAA football coach in the US is the Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart. Having joined them in 2015, after over eight years of coaching the Crimson Tide team in Alabama, Smart took them to the first spot in the 2023 AP Poll and helped them defeat Florida State in the 2023 Orange Bowl 63-3.

Given these impressive ratings and his nine-year successful tenure with the Bulldogs, it’s no surprise that Smart’s salary reflects his talent and experience. Since extending his contract in 2022 for another ten years, Smart has been taking home $11.25 million in salary.

What’s the Average NCAA Football Coach’s Salary?

Given the high salaries listed in these ratings, one would think that being an NCAA football coach means a lucrative career. And to an extent, that is indeed the case. For example, even the 32nd highest-paid NCAA football coach in the US, Deion Sanders, makes $5.9 million a year, which is over $490,000 per month.

However, we should keep in mind that the coaches we listed in this guide are the best of the best, and their salaries do not accurately reflect the market.

According to USA Today, the average NCAA coach’s salary in the Power Five conference schools is $6.2 million a year. Naturally, it’s a significant amount, but as with many professions, salaries are relative.

What’s the Highest-Paid NCAA Sport?

It appears that the highest-paid NCAA coach at the moment is Kirby Smart, with a salary of $11.5 million. The highest-paid NCAA coaches in other sports don’t make nearly as much, with the closest one being the University of Kansas’ NCAA basketball coach Bill Seif. He takes home $9.6 million.

Therefore, the highest-paid NCAA sport at the moment is American football.

Highest-Paid NCAA Coach of All Time


It’s, therefore, no surprise that the highest-paid NCAA coaches of all time are football coaches. As we already mentioned, Kirby Smart earns $11.5 million.

However, before his retirement, the Crimson Tides head coach Nick Saban was making a very similar amount of $11.7 million, making the two coaches the highest-paid NCAA coaches of all time.

Concluding Thoughts

These ten NCAA football coaches are truly the creme de la creme of the college coaching market. Given their records and impressive careers, their earnings are not surprising.

Many of these coaches still have a very long career ahead of them. We look forward to seeing them flourish and set more records. We’re already excited for the 2024-2025 edition of the highest-paid college football coaches!


Click to expand and view sources
  1. 10 highest-paid college football coaches in 2024 ft. Kalen Deboer, Kirby Smart and more (Sportskeeda)
  2. Highest paid college football coaches in the United States in 2023 (Statista)
  3. Who Is Highest-Paid Coach in College Football? (Front Office Sports)
  4. Vols’ Josh Heupel lands extension, raise to $9M per year (ESPN)
  5. Georgia Bulldogs, Kirby Smart agree to new 10-year, $112.5 million contract, making him highest-paid coach in college football, sources (ESPN)
  6. Eli Manning, Giants thwart Pats again to cap magical run with 4th Super Bowl title (ESPN)
  7. Lane Kiffin says Ole Miss football players, staff are 100 percent vaccinated (Yahoo Sports)
  8. The highest-paid college football coaches in 2023 (Yahoo Sports)
  9. Matt Rhule (Owl Sports)
  11. Ryan Day replaces Tim Beck as Ohio State quarterbacks coach (Dayton 247 Now)
  12. ReliaQuest Bowl – Wisconsin vs LSU Box Score, January 1, 2024 (Sports Reference)
  13. A Deeper Look into the Details of Brian Kelly’s LSU Contract (LSU Country)
  14. Inside Mike Norvell’s $26.5M contract with FSU (Memphis Business Journal)
  15. Mike Norvell Earns ACC Coach of the Year Honors (ACC)
  16. What USC’s hiring of Lincoln Riley means for the Pac-12 (hint: it’s gargantuan) (Los Angeles Daily News)
  17. Kalen DeBoer bids emotional farewell to Washington football in Alabama news conference (Kitsap Sun)
  18. Washington’s Kalen DeBoer is the AP coach of the year after leading undefeated Huskies to the CFP (AP News)
  19. Clemson mounts comeback in 38-35 win over Kentucky in Gator Bowl (The Post and Courier)
  20. Georgia steamrolls Florida State in Orange Bowl after College Football Playoff controversy (Fox News)
  21. Georgia Bulldogs ranked first in 2023 preseason AP Poll (SicEmDawgs)
  22. Deion Sanders is Colorado’s $280 million man (after four games) (USA Today)
  23. Why college football is king in coaching pay − even at blue blood basketball schools (USA Today)

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Kate Sukhanova Senior Statistics Contributor

Kate Sukhanova Senior Statistics Contributor

Kate is an accomplished tech writer and SaaS (Software as a Service) founder, renowned for her expertise in the technology industry. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the esteemed University of Exeter, where she honed his critical thinking and analytical skills.

Beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors, Kate is a true statistics geek. She revels in the world of data and derives insights that drive decision-making and business strategies. This penchant for numbers enhances her ability to craft data-driven articles, guiding readers through complex topics with clarity and reliability.

Kate's passion for knowledge and curiosity about emerging technologies drive her to learn and stay ahead of the curve continuously. She is deeply committed to sharing valuable information about innovations that have a tangible, positive impact on businesses and society.

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