Nick Saban Got PAIIIID

Written by Monte Burke at

The University of Alabama has extended the contract of its head football coach, Nick Saban, by three years, until 2024, when he will be 72 years old. As part of that extension, Saban also received a raise. With a one-time bonus of $4 million, he will make $11 million in the coming football season, up from the $7 million he made in 2016. From 2017 until 2024, in total, Saban will receive $65.2 million in total compensation. (Michael Casagrande, Aaron Suttles and Marq Burnett were the first to report the signing of the new contract.)

Saban’s salary this coming season will be the largest ever paid to a college football coach. It is also higher than the salary of any current NFL head coach.

There will be some outrage about this contract. Nick Saban is, technically, a public employee. And the student-athletes he coaches are not paid to play football.

While there are certainly reasons to be troubled by Saban’s salary—and by the seemingly outsized and misplaced importance we put on college football—the bottom line is that he is paid what he is worth. And he is worth every penny of this contract, if not more.

Yes, Saban is a public employee, but only his base salary of around $250,000 is paid by the University of Alabama. The rest of the money, called a “talent fee,” comes from the Crimson Tide Foundation, a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization, which raises money through boosters and shoe and apparel contracts. And the fact that college football players are not paid, despite the huge amount of revenue they help generate, is unlikely to change anytime soon, despite the fact that is seems unfair.

The system in college football, for better or worse, is what it is. And under that system, no coach in college provides more bang for the buck than Saban.

It starts, of course, with the success he’s had on the field. He is the best college coach in the game today and, arguably, the best ever. Saban has won four national titles since he took over as the head coach at Alabama in 2007. (He won one other title while at LSU in 2003). His five national titles leave him just one behind the legendary former Alabama coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant.

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