Biggest Stars in College Football Playoffs Are on the Sidelines
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Biggest Stars in College Football Playoffs Are on the Sidelines

Some of the biggest stars in college sports will be squaring off on New Year’s Day in the semifinals of the first ever College Football Playoff — and we’re not just talking about the players.

Sure, this year’s Rose Bowl will pit the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, against last year’s winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. But the marquee matchup in today’s other big game, the Sugar Bowl, may be between the men leading the teams from the sidelines: Alabama coach Nick Saban and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

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Saban has won four national championships, one with Louisiana State University in 2003 and three with the Crimson Tide, in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Those successes have led him to be widely considered the best coach in college football — he was just named the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year for leading Alabama to the No. 1 ranking this season and securing a spot in the playoff.

Saban’s winning track record has also made him the sport’s highest-paid coach, with a salary of nearly $7 million this year. (Reports had indicated that newly named Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was offered a six-year $48 million deal that would have topped Saban’s average annual package, but the actual contract calls for Harbaugh to make at least $40.1 million over seven years, according to the Detroit Free Press. Harbaugh’s deal will pay him at least $7 million next year, including a $2 million signing bonus.)

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If Saban is at the top of the game, then Meyer isn’t far behind. He won national championships in 2006 and 2008 as coach of the Florida Gators and led Ohio State to a school record of 24 straight wins after taking over in 2012. Meyer’s total pay package for 2014, at just over $4.5 million according to USA Today, ranks sixth among college football coaches.

By those standards, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is a relative bargain, with a comparatively meager $2 million salary this year that ranks 51st among NCAA football pay packages. Below are the ten college football coaches with the highest 2014 compensation, including money from outside their universities, as tabulated by USA Today. We’ve also added the other coaches involved in this year’s playoff to the list.


Coach School Total 2014 Pay Rank
Nick Saban Alabama $7,160,187 1
Mark Dantonio Michigan State $5,636,145 2
Bob Stoops Oklahoma $5,058,333 3
Kevin Sumlin Texas A&M $5,006,000 4
Charlie Strong Texas $5,000,270 5
Urban Meyer Ohio State $4,536,640 6
Les Miles Louisiana State $4,369,582 7
James Franklin Penn State $4,300,000 8
Kirk Ferentz Iowa $4,075,000 9
Steve Spurrier South Carolina $4,016,900 10
Jimbo Fisher Florida State $3,591,667 14
Mark Helfrich Oregon $2,000,000 51
Source: USA Today

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