These guys are making a lot more money than you
The business of college football is one of the most booming industries in the world. Big-time conferences now have their own television networks, as well as deals with ESPN, CBS and/or Fox.
The revenue generated through advertising dollars is practically mind-blowing.
Thus, the chase for those aforementioned ad dollars has becoming equally as mind-blowing.
But everyone knows you have to spend money to make money. In order to win football games -- and thus earn spots on primetime, national television, an athletic department must be willing to shell out major dollars to bring in a coach who can recruit, draw up Xs and Os, glad-hand the boosters, get his players into the classroom and juggle an ever-changing assistant coaching staff.
It may seem silly, and definitely extreme, but there is no denying it any more: Has your school made the type of commitment it takes to win national titles?
T-25. Will Muschamp, David Shaw, Larry Fedora, Frank Beamer, Charlie Weis, Steve Sarkisian
We have lumped our first group together because there are so many coaches all being paid $2.5 million annually, in spite of the fact that there is very little in common with the men listed here.
Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer is the nation's longest-tenured coach, whereas everyone else is relatively new to their schools.
David Shaw took over for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and has already won a Rose Bowl. Will Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer at Florida and has already led his Gators to a Sugar Bowl berth.
Steve Sarkisian has been up and down during his tenure with the Washington Huskies, but big things are expected out of the Pacific Northwest in 2013.
Then there is Charlie Weis. The Kansas athletic department paid the mammoth man $2.5 million to win them one stinking game.
T-24. Mike London, Virginia Cavaliers
London coached the Richmond Spiders to an FCS national championship in 2008, his very first year at the helm. He won another 11 games in 2009 before jumping to the next level and the FBS with Virginia. The Cavaliers have long been overshadowed by Virginia Tech, but after an eight-win 2011 season, London seemed to have been turning the tide within the state.
He was handsomely rewarded for his effort, but the team regressed in 2012, only winning four games. A bounce-back year in 2013 may be in order or else the fourth-year coach will find himself on a fairly sizzling hot seat.
T-24. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Kelly was brought in from Cincinnati following Charlie Weis' embarrassing run as the coach of the Golden Domers. After consecutive 8-5 seasons, Kelly's Irish squad ripped off 12 straight wins to take a No. 1 ranking into the BCS title game. Of course, the beating they suffered at the hands of Alabama (more on the Tide's Nick Saban far later) dampened spirits a bit, but only a bit.
The Fighting Irish have been set up for sustained success under Kelly, who, in recent reports is making $2.6 million annually. That being said, the exact numbers of his extension have not been made public.
T-24. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mullen served as quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, then Utah and finally at Florida. In that time he worked with Alex Smith and Tim Tebow, among others. After he won a national championship in Gainesville in 2008, Mullen struck out on his own, taking a $2.6 million annual salary to coach Mississippi State.
His Bulldogs have shown improvement in his four years at the helm, but stumbled badly towards the tail end of the 2012 season. If his program can reach nine wins or get over that hump and hit double-digits, Mullen could be in for a raise in the football-mad SEC.
23. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin Badgers
In Week 2 of the 2012 season, Andersen's Utah State Aggies were a missed, last-second field goal away from upsetting Wisconsin in Madison. Only a few months later, Andersen was signing a contract that would pay him $2.7 million annually to coach the Badgers.
It was an unexpected turn of events for all parties involved following the abrupt departure of Bret Bielema to Arkansas. However, simply because it was unexpected does not mean it was the wrong hire. Andersen turned around the formerly downtrodden Aggies program, and now he will be expected to improve the Badgers' consecutive streak of Rose Bowl appearances to four.
T-21. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Paul Johnson brought his triple-option, extremely heavy run-oriented offense to Georgia Tech and has thus far enjoyed mixed success. In 2012, the Yellow Jackets managed to put aside all thoughts of their disappointing, seven-loss season with an upset win over USC in the Sun Bowl.
Johnson rakes in a hefty $2.75 million per year. More is going to be expected than simply .500 football in the future
T-21. Gary Pinkel, Mizzou Tigers
Gary Pinkel led his Tigers to double-digit wins in three of the team's last five years as members of the Big 12. However, Mizzou fell flat on its face in its first season in the SEC, and the team's seven losses has some fans calling for Pinkel's job.
With an annual salary of $2.75 million, Pinkel will be expected to right the ship in 2013 and compete against the big boys of his new conference.
20. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Seminoles
Jimbo Fisher was faced with the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of a legend in the all-time winningest coach, Bobby Bowden. However, he has lived up to that task and then some, leading the Seminoles to their first ACC championship since 2005 and an Orange Bowl victory.
Relatively speaking, Fisher's $2.8 million salary has been extremely cost-effective.
19. Bo Pelini, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Bo Pelini is being paid $2.9 million a year to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers. However, he is not paid to impress the football-mad fans of the program with nine wins or 10 wins.
Rather, Pelini's salary is almost entirely based upon winning "the big one". In 2012, the Huskers were pounded in the Big Ten title game by Wisconsin and then again by Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. Should he fail to perform with the national spotlight upon his team yet again in 2013, Nebraska may find someone else to cut paychecks to.
T-15. Todd Graham, Arizona State Sun Devils
Graham was brought in to bring the Sun Devils up to the level of Oregon and USC in the Pac-12. While the team disappointed at times in 2012, Graham's squad caught fire late in the year, eventually pummeling Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl, 62-28.
The expectations have been raised heading into 2013. If Graham's Arizona State squad can live up to them, and even win the Pac-12 South, the coach will have earned his $3 million annual paycheck.
T-15. Lane Kiffin, USC Trojans
Lane Kiffin oversaw one of the most embarrassing seasons in college football history. Not only did his Trojans become the first team to ever open the year at No. 1-overall and then go on to lose six games, but his coaching ethics were called into question several times throughout the year.
The USC athletic department gave Kiffin $3 million and put up with deflated footballs and players changing jerseys at halftime. Another season full of losses and questionable methods in the locker room might not make such a large chunk of change worth it.
T-15. James Franklin, Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt is a private institution, so unlike the majority of coaches out there, the school does not have to release the exactly salary figures for James Franklin. However, reports have indicated that the Dores' athletic department bumped him up to roughly $3 million annually, and in terms of football history, Franklin is worth every penny.
Vandy was the unquestioned doormat of the SEC for decades prior to Franklin's arrival. In 2012, he led the program to bowl games in consecutive seasons for the very first time in school history -- and neither he nor his Commodores players are showing any signs of slowing down.
T-15. Mark Richt, Georgia Bulldogs
Mark Richt spent several seasons on and off the hot seat in the eyes of Dawgs Nation. However, consecutive wins over Florida resulting in back-to-back SEC East titles has cooled that seat considerably.
In 2012, Georgia came within five yards of upsetting Alabama in the Georgia Dome in the SEC Championship game. Another run at the conference crown will have made Richt's $3 million salary worth it (relatively speaking).
T-13. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M Aggies
Despite having a first-round talent at quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, the Aggies struggled under coach Mike Sherman. Thus, and as Texas A&M was preparing to move from the Big 12 to the SEC, the athletic department fired Sherman and brought in offensive mastermind Kevin Sumlin from Houston.
Sumlin coached Case Keenum at Houston, who set nearly every career passing record there was, and he carried his success with him to College Station. His signal caller, Johnny Manziel (maybe you've heard of him?) became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
For his efforts in leading A&M to double-digit wins for the first time since 1998, Sumlin was awarded a raise to a fat $3.1 million annually.
T-13. Butch Jones, Tennessee Volunteers
Former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones scored himself a huge payday when several men turned down the Tennessee job made vacant with the firing of the inept Derek Dooley. Jon Gruden and Charlie Strong were the two biggest names, but they were not the only two names before finally making arguably the right hire in Jones.
Whatever happened before bringing Jones to Knoxville, however, is already ancient history. The school's athletic department is banking $3.1 million annually (more than fellow SEC coaches Mark Richt and Will Muschamp) that Jones can turn their floundering program around.
T-11. Brady Hoke, Michigan Wolverines
Hoke was brought in from San Diego State to clean up the mess Rich Rodriguez made in Ann Arbor. Thus far, his efforts have been largely successful, and even bigger things are expected from one of the two most powerful programs in the Big Ten.
If Michigan can beat Ohio State in 2013, thus probably winning the Big Ten, Hoke's $3.2 million salary will have been well worth it.
T-11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas Razorbacks
Why is Bielema grinning from ear to ear? Because the former coach at Wisconsin lost two straight Rose Bowls and still managed to snag himself a nearly million dollar-per-year annual raise to coach the desperate Razorbacks.
Bobby Petrino had to be fired after he crashed his motorcycle with his mistress along for the ride, and the Hogs suffered a disastrous 2012 season under John L. Smith. The school's athletic department is hoping a $3.2 million investment in Bielema brings success in the SEC moving forward.
10. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Gundy has led Oklahoma State to new heights, even competing with mighty Oklahoma for in-state dominance.
The coach made famous for saying "I'm a man, I'm 40!" is being paid like a man, that's for sure. His $3.3 million annual salary is the 10th-highest in the entire nation.
9. Gary Patterson, TCU Horned Frogs
When running back Ladainian Tomlinson was starring for TCU back in the day, the football program was languishing amongst the lower levels of the game. That was, of course, until Patterson took over. The school has ping-ponged up conference levels in a hurry, and now reside comfortably alongside in-state big boy Texas in the Big 12.
Patterson is the king of the TCU campus, and his $3.5 million annual salary should keep him there for a very long time.
8. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina Gamecocks
The Ole' Ball Coach, after winning a national title at his alma mater, Florida, was relegated to the bottom of the SEC after a forgettable run with the Washington Redskins. He has since turned the South Carolina football program around and into a nationally respected brand.
Thus, when Spurrier asks for a raise, he gets it. After leading the team to 11 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, his salary was bumped to $3.6 million annually.
7. Charlie Strong, Louisville Cardinals
After spending years as an assistant with Florida, Strong was passed over for the open Gators' head coaching vacancy in favor of Will Muschamp. After Strong's Cardinals pummeled Muschamp's Gators in the Sugar Bowl, the rest of the SEC wanted a piece of Strong.
Tennessee probably pursued Strong the most, but in the end, college football's hottest coaching name chose to show loyalty to the team that gave him his first chance to run a program. Louisville then handsomely rewarded their man, upping his salary to a nice $3.7 million a year.
6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes
Ferentz, with the firing of Joe Paterno amidst the biggest scandal to ever rock a sports team, became the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten. With such a distinction comes certain perks, and that includes a massive, $3.9 million annual salary.
Of course, another year or two with only four total wins and Ferentz won't be making that amount of money for very long.
T-4. Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes
Urban Meyer was signed to a massive contract in order to come out of his semi-retirement and coach Ohio State. In just his first season, he already provided the Buckeyes' faithful and athletic department with a massive return on their investment.
His $4.3 million in his first year resulted in a perfect, 12-0 record for his new program.
T-4. Les Miles, LSU Tigers
The Mad Hatter has proven time and again to be one of the best recruiters in the country and one of the most entertaining coaching minds both on the field and in front of the press.
For his efforts as the 2007 national title winner and perennial championship contender, LSU brass has rewarded Miles handsomely. With rumors flying that Arkansas had offered Miles a substantial raise to switch SEC alliances, LSU responded in kind, bumping their coach's salary up to a cool $4.3 million per year.
3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Sooners
Stoops always has his Sooners in contention for at least a Big 12 title, if not a national championship. He has won himself a ring, and thus earned himself a fat annual paycheck from the Oklahoma athletic department.
His $4.6 million is good for the third-highest salary in the nation.
2. Mack Brown, Texas Longhorns
Mack Brown has won himself a national championship as well as a number of Big 12 titles. While the team has struggled in recent years, the 2013 season is expected to bring with it another 10 or more wins and possibly yet another conference crown.
Should that be the case, Brown will have earned the second-highest annual salary in the nation at $5.4 million while leading the country's most profitable athletic department.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide
It's good to be the king.
Nick Saban has built his historically dominant Alabama football program into a modern dynasty, and the man has been extremely well-compensated for his efforts.
The man at the top of the mountain is being paid like a boss should be, as his $5.5 million annual salary ranks as the highest in the nation.
Statistics courtesy Coaches Hot Seat