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HACKENBERG: Saban has cashed in on bowl success

06/06/2014, 12:00am EDT

Saban has cashed in on bowl success

Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks during a news conference for the 2013 BCS National Championship college football game. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nick Saban, some may recall, was head football coach at the University of Toledo for one season in 1990. Records show his base salary was $65,000, with a total compensation package of $95,000.

That’s a while ago, and memory is not a strong suit, but our best guess is that the hefty guy who covered that team for the local newspaper was paid about half of what Saban earned.

Next season, based on a recent contract extension, the University of Alabama will pay Nick Saban $7 million. Roll Tide. A quarter of a century later, that same writer will make a shade less than one-one hundredth of what Saban is paid.

Methinks one of us chose the wrong profession.

If you are fortunate enough to earn $134,615.39, before taxes, your annual income will be equal to Saban’s weekly paycheck, before taxes.

Saban’s new eight-year contract extension, should he see it through to the bitter end, will pay the coach some $55 million.

Annually, he’ll get a base salary of $6.5 million, a completion bonus (whatever that is) of $400,000, and will have a $100,000 contribution to Alabama’s general scholarship fund made in his name.

Voila, college football’s first $7 million man. And that doesn’t include performance bonuses that could jack it to as much as $7.6 million per year.

Last season, the combined earnings of all the head coaches in the Mid-American Conference was slightly more than $5 million.

Meanwhile, the past three Toledo head football coaches to move on to bigger and better jobs — Saban, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, and Illinois’ Tim Beckman — combined to make more than $10 million, not counting bonuses, in 2013. Saban was doing the heavy lifting there with a salary of $5,545,852.

Next season, with Saban’s extension terms and an amended contract that will bump Pinkel’s salary to $3.1 million — the reward for a 12-2 season, a No. 5 final national ranking, and becoming the winningest coach in Mizzou history — that ex-UT duo will top the $10 million mark without any help from Beckman.

Eight college football coaches, including Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Brady Hoke at Michigan, earned more than $4 million last season. That’s courtesy of a USA Today survey of all public university coaching contracts. Add in private schools like Notre Dame and Stanford, and it seems safe to assume maybe 10 coaches were in that price range.

Outrageous? Of course it is. But it’s what the market has driven for the game’s most successful coaches whose programs produce the greatest revenues.

And the level of outrageousness continues to grow. From the 2005-06 school year through 2011-12, FBS coaching jobs saw a 93 percent increase in pay, second only to the 102 percent increase among Division I college basketball coaches.

Those figures are compliments of the American Association of University Professors, which, of course, was making a point. It said doctoral professors saw a 4 per cent increase in compensation over the same range of time. That’s another story for another day, if we ever want to remind ourselves of the real mission of colleges and universities.

The football mission, though, is booming, and for a guy like Nick Saban, with three national championships in five seasons, the sky remains the limit.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: or 419-724-6398.

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