Crimson Tide’s Coach Making Top-Tiered NFL Money, But the Revenue Justifies the Expense

Nick Saban, here hugging AJ McCarron after winning the 2011 BCS title, will soon earn $6 million a year.


It’s an eye-popping number.

More so than 92 and 5, the total number of yards and first downs his defense allowed to LSU in the BCS National Championship game.

The number that really makes one rub their eyes is this one: $5,966,666.67. That’s the amount Alabama will pay Nick Saban in the last year of his new contact, 2019. That’s right, Alabama will be paying its football coach $6 million in a few years.

As absurd as that seems, it’s not all that far off from what Saban is getting paid in 2012: $5,316,666,67 (he seems to like 67 cents).

When the Tide first signed Saban, for $4 million in 2007, the sports world threw up its arms. How could a college do such a thing?

Alabama answered that not by winning National Championships in 2009 and 2011, but by increasing its revenue by $1 million on game days from what it was under the previous .500 coach, Mike Shula. It shows that Saban’s astronomical salary is actually all smart money.

If you look at athletic departments strictly as a business and take the emotions of winning out of it, then Alabama football is the model business. It produces a quality product (the best available two of the past three years, in fact), it takes care of its customers (recently remodeled Bryant-Denny Stadium has gone from a 60,000-seat venue for secondary games to a 102,000-seat palace), and has tremendous brand loyalty.

Throw in those passionate emotions of winning big games and championships, and it becomes an even more valuable business.

You can see it in the bottom line. According to the Business of College Sports, Alabama turned a profit of more than $40 million in 2009-10. That’s seventh in the country. Texas is first at $68 million. And the Longhorns pay Mack Brown $5.1 million a year. Here’s a look at the Business of College Sports’ most profitable football and basketball teams.

So while Saban’s – and also Brown’s – salary may cause you to rub your eyes, get ready to just shrug your shoulders. With these kinds of profits out there for successful teams, other programs are going make coaches’ salaries do what Alabama football has done under Saban: Rise to the top.


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