The ‘Bama Baseline and The Saban Premium

by Ben Perreira


Nick Saban may not be the happiest guy in the world today. He is likely experiencing a hangover of sorts, having lost to rival Auburn on Saturday on what some could call a tactical error. Others may just call it one of the greatest college football finishes in recent history.

Coach Saban probably feels much better when he cashes his paychecks, rumored to amount to over $5.5 million per year.

This figure is the cause of some grumbling. Some simply say that no college football coach can possibly be worth that much. Others say that college coaches are only paid so much because players can’t get paid per NCAA regulations (ok, this may be true).

Since we can’t move the goalposts, so to speak (too soon, ‘Bama fans?), let’s focus why he makes that much. Firstly, we have to look at the value of the job itself. Any schlub hired to coach football at big schools like Alabama, Texas and USC would be making $3 million. That $3 million baseline is the price to have a guy on the sidelines calling the shots. 

The $2.5 million is the premium assigned to guys like Saban, Kiffin* and Mack Brown for the wins they deliver to the school. Wins mean more TV money, more Bowl money, a better recruiting pipeline, and more. Just like only a handful of quarterbacks will deliver wins consistently, a handful of coaches simply know how to get the job done. When they win they more than earn their keeps.

Alabama may have recused itself from the National Championship game this year, but you be sure that paying the premium to have a guy like Saban at the helm will keep them in contention for years to come.

*Wins not applicable.