- Nick Saba’s retirement created a domino effect among college football head coaches.
- Coaches were trying to find the coveted Alabama role and the jobs that opened up after it was filled.
- Four head coaches and many assistants got a big payday thanks to Saban’s retirement.
Legendary college football coach Nick Saban surprised some when he announced his retirement after the 2023 season.
Saban has been the head coach at the University of Alabama for 28 seasons, including the last 17 seasons. He led teams to seven national championships, six with the Crimson Tide.
When a head football coaching position opens at one of the top programs, it inevitably creates a ripple effect throughout the college football world, with coaches and agents vying for the coveted job and other jobs that open up when coaches start moving.
Someone has to replace Shaba. Someone will have to change that coach, etc.
Here’s a look at the coaches already affected by Saban’s retirement and their salaries.
Salary 2023: $4.2 million
Probably a new salary: At least $10 million
Kalen DeBoer is tasked with replacing the legendary Saban and taking over an Alabama football program that has won 18 national championships.
DeBoer is the only head coach in major college football as of 2020. He spent two years at Fresno State making about $1.3 million per season. He then transferred to the University of Washington this offseason. he led the program to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016. According to USA Today, he earned $4.2 million last season.
Details of DeBoer’s new contract with Alabama have not yet been released. However, the Seattle Times reported that he turned down a $9.4 million-a-year contract offer from Washington. Because of that, college football insiders expect his new salary at Bama to more than double to north of $10 million a year.
If accurate, DeBoer will move from the 44th-winningest coach in college football to one of the top five. Not bad for someone making $800,000 a year as an assistant coach in 2019.
Salary 2023: $3.3 million
New salary: $7.5 million
After DeBoer left for Alabama, Washington hired Jedd Fish.
Fish was the head coach at the University of Arizona, earning about $3.3 million a year for the past three seasons. Before that, he was a longtime assistant coach in the NFL and college ranks, most recently as Bill Belichick’s quarterbacks coach with the New England Patriots in 2020.
According to King5 in Seattle, Fish’s salary will more than double this year to $7.5 million. He was the 54th-winningest coach in college football last season and will move up to about 15th.
With the school moving to the Big Ten conference this year, Washington could pay Fisch a much larger salary than his predecessor. The school’s revenue will increase in large part due to a more lucrative television deal in the Big Ten than in the Pac-12.
Salary 2023: $2.3 million
New salary: $2.7 million
Replacing Fish in Arizona is former San Jose State coach Brent Brennan.
In 2023, Brennan was the 67th highest-paid coach in college football, earning $2.3 million per year. His raise will be more modest than DeBoer’s and Fisch’s this season, rising to $2.7 million, according to ESPN. However, his salary is expected to rise to $3.6 million over the next five years, and he has the chance to earn up to $1.2 million annually with performance bonuses built into the contract.
When Brennan was hired by San Jose State in 2017, his salary was $575,000.
Estimated salary in 2023: Less than $1 million
Probably a new salary: At least $2.3 million
The final head coaching domino came when San Jose State hired Ken Niumatalo as its new head football coach.
Niumatalolo most recently served as an assistant coach and advisor to Chip Kelly at UCLA. Details of his salary have yet to be released, but ESPN reports it is a 5-year deal.
We cannot be sure how much Niumatalolo will earn with his new job. However, salaries for UCLA assistant coaches range from $310,000 to $1 million. We also know that his predecessor at San Jose State made $2.3 million a year. That’s comparable to Niumatalolo’s salary in his final season as longtime head coach at the Naval Academy.
While the head coaching change with Saban’s retirement is the most notable, many assistants will also benefit financially.
These salaries will vary by school and role. However, when a head coach signs with a new school, he often brings many of his assistants with him from his previous school, and moving up the college football ranks to a school with more revenue usually comes with a bigger salary.
Two of DeBoer’s top aides in Alabama filled the same role as him in Washington. More may follow as we fill out the staff.