A Snapshot of Big Ten Coaching Compensation Through 2022


When Scott Frost signed on as Nebraska’s head football coach after the 2017 season, his seven-year salary of $ 35 million put him in the top echelon of Big Ten football coaching.

That was then, it is now, and the dollar signs don’t line up quite the same.

Scott Frost’s new base salary places him 11th in the Big TEn. (Associated press)

After agreeing to a $ 1 million pay cut for 2022 after a fourth consecutive losing season, Frost’s salary now places him 11th on the conference pay scale. His base salary of $ 4 million ranks only above salaries paid to Paul Chryst of Wisconsin (barely), Greg Schiano of Rutgers and Mike Locksley of Maryland.

Frost’s restructured contract also reduced his buyout clause to $ 7.5 million from $ 15 million, although he will qualify for performance incentives if he leaps from the hot seat and produces a winning season.

Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts explained his decision to restructure Frost’s contract rather than fire him in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “The desperation of universities and donors for wanting a winning football program can sometimes lead to bad business decisions, ”Alberts said. . “We have chosen to make a decision which includes a little more patience.”

Michigan State's Mel Tucker will earn $ 9.5 million in 2022.
Michigan State’s Mel Tucker will earn $ 9.5 million in 2022 (Associated Press)

Dial for dollars

The gargantuan deals paid to football’s head coaches have been the norm for years, but nothing like the recently announced contracts for Brian Kelly at LSU, Lincoln Riley at USC and Mel Tucker of Michigan State.

Oklahoma Sooners new football coach Brent Venables’ contract is reportedly worth $ 43.5 million over six years, making it one of the richest contracts for a freshman head coach in the world. college football. The deal averages $ 7.25 million per year and runs through the 2027 season.

As of that point, Nick Saban of Alabama is no longer the highest paid college football coach in the country with a guaranteed amount of $ 9.7 million per year. That title now passes to Lincoln Riley, who is expected to earn around $ 10 million a year in salary and other guarantees.

And the schools are probably not done opening the vaults in this cycle. Who thinks Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh won’t get a big raise on top of the contract incentives he already got for winning the Big Ten title and qualifying for the Bowl Championship Series.

Harbaugh’s base salary this year? $ 4.03 million, after suffering a massive pay cut on the $ 8.03 million salary paid in 2020.

Two years ago, Harbaugh was the highest-paid football head coach in the conference. That distinction now belongs to Tucker, who will earn a guaranteed $ 9.5 million per year over the next ten years in salary and benefits after arriving at East Lansing two years ago and producing a record winning and appearance at the bowl last season.

James Franklin will earn $ 70 million on his new 10-year contract.
James Franklin will earn $ 70 million on his new 10-year contract. (USA Today Sports Images)

Big ten shakes

Frost isn’t the only Big Ten coach to have suffered a pay cut after the 2021 season.

Tom Allen of Indiana was expected to earn $ 4.9 million a year until the 2027 season based on the contract he signed last March. But after the Hoosiers finished 2-10 this fall, Allen agreed to a $ 200,000 pay cut for the next three seasons, leaving him at $ 4.7 million.

Part of the reduction will cover the costs associated with the sacking of offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan. The offense, which was fourth in the conference in 2020, finished 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams last season with 18.2 points per game.

James Franklin of Penn State agreed in November to a new 10-year contract with a guaranteed value of $ 70 million. The contract includes $ 1.5 million in additional guaranteed benefits – a retention premium of $ 500,000 and $ 1 million through a life insurance loan that would bring its total guaranteed value to $ 85 million . Franklin, who was reportedly running for the USC job at one point, could also earn an additional $ 1 million in annual performance incentives.

The contract represents Franklin’s fourth contract with Penn State – the most recent was a six-year agreement signed in 2019 and to run until 2025. But unlike that contract, this 10-year agreement does not provide for any annual increase in earnings. wages. Franklin’s guaranteed annual compensation is $ 7 million per year.

Then there’s Tucker from Michigan State, who has a new 10-year, $ 95 million contract extension. Coach will earn $ 5.9 million in base salary, $ 3.1 million in media appearances, $ 100,000 from a school-brokered clothing deal and an annual retention bonus of 400,000 $. His previous contract earned him $ 5.63 million.

As if Tucker’s salary weren’t enough to make your head spin, consider that if MSU fires Tucker at any time during the term of the agreement, the school will owe him 100 percent of his salary, unless the dismissal is for cause (because of a felony, an NCAA violation or a moral, in which the school should nothing), according to the Detroit Free Press.

Marlyand Mike Locksley is the Big Ten's lowest-paid head coach with $ 2.47 million.
Marlyand Mike Locksley is the Big Ten’s lowest-paid head coach with $ 2.47 million. (Getty Images)

Classification of paychecks

Tucker is the leader for now, followed by Franklin and Ryan Day of Ohio State, who earns $ 6.61 million.

In the next level, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald wins $ 5.75 million; Jeff Brohm of Purdue, $ 4.8 million, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, $ 5 million; PJ Fleck of Minnesota, $ 4.42; and Bret Bielema of Illinois, $ 4.2 million.

Next is Frost at $ 4 million.

Rounding out the talk: Paul Chryst earns $ 3.98 million in Wisconsin; Greg Schiano, $ 3.76 million at Rutgers; and Mike Locksley of Maryland is at the bottom with $ 2.47 million a year.

Steve Rosen writes about sports affairs for HuskerOnline. Contact Rosen with questions, comments, story ideas at [email protected]


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