NCAA Football

College Football’s Top 5 Most Underpaid Head Coaches

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Top 5 Most Underpaid Head Coaches

mark helfrich
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, USA TODAY released its 2013 college football coaches’ salary database. And not surprisingly, Alabama’s Nick Saban sits at the top of the list. He has the most successful program and rightfully earns the highest salary. But what is surprising is what some coaches of highly-ranked teams are (or better yet aren’t) depositing in the bank.

Here’s the full table of FBS coaches’ salaries.

Indeed, some schools out there are getting one heck of a deal on their head coaches. When you see the likes of 3-6 Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and 4-5 Tennessee’s Butch Jones raking in about $5 million each, you can’t help but get a little irritated for the guys who are winning lots of football games but are lucky to get half that salary.

Of course, it can all change at any time for any one of the overachieving and underpaid coaches out there. And I’d be willing to bet several of the guys on this list will get salary bumps at season’s end. But for now, their paychecks are a little paltry considering what their teams are doing on the field.

So, who are the guys that have the best claim to a raise? Which coaches are pacing up and down the sidelines wondering, “What do I have to do to get some recognition around here?”

Without further delay, here are the five most underpaid head coaches in college football.

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5. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: $1.9 Million

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The Spartans are 8-1, first in the B1G Legends Division and ranked 17th in the BCS Standings. But Dantonio is somehow has the 9th-highest salary of the 12 head coaches in his conference. Not to mention his track record of success prior to this season. It’s embarrassing to the school’s administration that 1-7 Purdue’s head coach, Darrell Hazell, makes more than Dantonio.

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4. Mark Helfrich, Oregon: $1.8 Million

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The only reason Helfrich isn’t higher is he was given the keys to a well-oiled machine and has only had to steer it around obstacles so far this season. Still, making less than $2 million as the head coach of the No. 2 or 3 team in college football (and one that is absolutely dominant) means he’s underpaid. Just to put it in perspective, consider that the coaches at SMU (3-4), Kentucky (2-6) and South Florida (2-6) all make more than the Ducks’ head coach.

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3. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: $2.75 Million

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Fisher had a little more work to do in Tallahassee than perhaps Helfrich did coming in at Oregon, but the Seminoles’ head coach has put together an impressive run of improvement since taking over. It’s all culminated with this year’s No. 2 ranking and FSU is on track to win a second-straight ACC crown and could potentially play for the national title. Some might consider it a stretch to call the 21st-highest paid coach in college football underpaid, but he’s won more football games in the past two seasons than nearly every coach ahead of him on the list.

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2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: $2.4 Million

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No coach has orchestrated a bigger turnaround from last year than Malzahn, helping the 8-1 Tigers bounce back from a 3-9 2012 season. He has his team ranked 9th in the BCS Standings, but Malzahn is the fourth-lowest paid coach in the SEC. With the way things are going on The Plains these days, however, that won’t be true for much longer.

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1. Art Briles, Baylor: $2.4 Million

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

More than any other guy on this list, what Briles has been able to accomplish at Baylor is truly remarkable. The Bears were perennial doormats for decades before Brieles, with perhaps a little help from RG III, turned things around. Undefeated Baylor now sits at No. 6 in the BCS Standings and has an opportunity to win the Big 12 title and possibly sneak into the national title game. But somehow, coaches of teams the Bears have crushed this year – that’s you Kansas, Kansas State and West Virginia – are making bigger deposits than Briles.

Related: College Football’s 5 Most Overpaid Head Coaches