Highest Paid Coaches In College Football For 2022: Lincoln Riley Overtakes Nick Saban For Top Spot

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The college football landscape has changed drastically since USA Today released the list of the top 10 highest-paid coaches in college football for 2021.

Ed Orgeron, Dan Mullen and Gary Patterson still had jobs and ranked No. 2, 6 and 10 respectively on the list. Lincoln Riley was No. 4, albeit as Oklahoma’s head coach. Riley now resides in Southern California and has the distinction of being the highest-paid coach in college football, projected to rake in $10 million in 2022, per 247Sports.

Riley’s deal with USC is estimated to be worth $110 million in full value. It’s a decent raise over the $7.6 million he made coaching the Sooners in 2021 and includes a few perks, such as a mansion in Los Angeles. Riley, 38, went 55-10 in five seasons at Oklahoma (2017-21), winning four Big 12 championships.

Alabama’s Nick Saban falls from No. 1 to No. 2 on the list, officially making him underpaid. The seven-time national champion is in search of an eighth, with the Crimson Tide set to take on Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 10. As the competition around him gears up to dethrone his program, Saban keeps chugging along. The 70-year-old is locked up through the 2028 season and is showing no signs of slowing down. He’s estimated to earn $9.9 million in 2022.

Rounding out the top four is a pair of coaches: Michigan State’s Mel Tucker and Louisiana State University’s Brian Kelly, along with his family. Tucker, 50, emerged as one of the premier coaches of the sport in 2021, guiding Michigan State back to relevance. Sparty finished 11-2 with a win over rival Michigan and Pitt in the Peach Bowl. Tucker inked a 10-year, $95 million extension on Nov. 24 to remain with the Spartans.

Kelly, 60, shocked the college football world when he departed Notre Dame for LSU on Nov. 30. The all-time winningest coach in the history of Notre Dame, Kelly will look to become the fourth consecutive head coach to win a national championship at LSU. Like Tucker, he’ll have 10 years to work with and $95 million.

Here is the complete list of the top 10 highest-paid coaches in college football for 2022:

  • 1. USC HC Lincoln Riley- $10 million (estimated)
  • 2. Alabama HC Nick Saban- $9.9 million (estimated)
  • T4. Michigan State HC Mel Tucker- $9.5 million
  • T4. LSU HC Brian Kelly- $9.5 million
  • T6. Texas A&M HC Jimbo Fisher- $9 million
  • T6. Stanford HC David Shaw- $9 million
  • T8. Clemson HC Dabo Swinney- $8.5 million
  • T8. Penn State HC James Franklin- $8.5 million
  • 9. Miami HC Mario Cristobal- $8 million
  • 10. Ohio State HC Ryan Day- $7.6 million

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Follow Nick Geddes on Twitter @NickGeddesNews and on Instagram @nick.geddes. 

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.


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    • They have the cash to spend and have an AD who wants to compete. If the academic schools wanted to truly take advantage of NIL, schools like Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Rice, and Northwestern would have top 10 recruiting classes. They have gigantic endowments and donors. They’d get every single player with a good SAT for sure, and if they wanted to lower academic standards for football they’d get all the recruits. Think of the endorsement deals the alumni from the top academic universities could provide. Just hope Harvard and Yale don’t get interested.

  1. From a pure net $$$ perspective … $9M in Tuscaloosa goes A LOT farther than $10M in Los Angeles … A LOT FARTHER.
    I appreciate than those far removed from my generation might want the bright lights and glitz of LA rather than bucolic AL … but I doubt Nick & Miss Terri lack in creature comforts and financial wherewithall. Nick doesn’t strike me as a “I want a Tony Parker pimped-out mega crib” kind of guy. Lincoln Riley doesn’t strike me that way either.
    “Ol’ Roy” Williams’ all-time Deep Thought was “How many golf balls does one man need?”

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