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Highest-Paid College Football Coaches for the 2022 Season

Aspen Photo / Shutterstock.com
Aspen Photo / Shutterstock.com

The highest-paid public employee in the vast majority of American states is a college football or, less frequently, a college basketball coach -- and your tax dollars fund their hefty paychecks. In the handful of states where it's not a coach, a college dean or president is the state's highest-paid public employee in almost every case.

Higher education is big business, and a school's athletic department is usually the goose that lays the golden egg -- and nowhere is that more evident than in the realm of NCAA football. The top college football coaches often earn as much or more than their NFL counterparts -- and for good reason.

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According to Forbes, virtually no other coaching position in all of sports has more of an impact on a program's success than that of the head football coach. Their job goes far beyond what fans see on television, like calling plays and managing the clock. They have to evaluate the talent and growth potential of largely unproven high school teenagers barely old enough to drive. They have to put together and manage enormous networks of assistant coaches, trainers, managers and supporting staff. They have to navigate complex and strict rules established by the NCAA and their individual schools and make sure their players and staffs abide by those regulations. And now they're asked to help manage "Name, Image and Likeness" rules that are constantly changing as players are allowed to make money off endorsements.

They're charged with understanding and mitigating the emotional and social challenges that are inherent to their players' age group and deal with intense pressure under a bright media spotlight. On top of that, of course, are the Xs and Os of creating playbooks, developing strategies and instituting a winning culture that extends from the locker room and the practice field to game day.

Not all coaches, however, are created -- or paid -- equal.

GOBankingRates looked at NBCSports data and found the 15 highest paid college football coaches for the 2022 season. Although none of them can cry poverty, there's a huge disparity in pay scale. UCLA's Chip Kelly, for example, will earn $5.6 million this season, while Georgia's Kirby Smart will pull down $11.25 million. What they make per game, per minute and per second will make your eyes pop, too.

Chris Brown/CSM
Chris Brown/CSM

15. Chip Kelly

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: UCLA

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $5,600,000

    • Per game: $466,667

    • Per minute of game time: $7,778

    • Per second of game time: $129.63

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David Banks/AP
David Banks/AP

14. Pat Fitzgerald

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Northwestern

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $5,748,000

    • Per game: $479,000

    • Per minute of game time: $7,983

    • Per second of game time: $133.06

AP/REX/Shutterstock
AP/REX/Shutterstock

13. James Franklin

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Penn State

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $7,000,000

    • Per game: $583,333

    • Per minute of game time: $9,722

    • Per second of game time: $162.04

Austin Mcafee/CSM
Austin Mcafee/CSM

12. Jim Harbaugh

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Michigan

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $7,050,000

    • Per game: $587,500

    • Per minute of game time: $9,792

    • Per second of game time: $163.19

Lane_Kiffin_shutterstock_editorial_12682376a
Lane_Kiffin_shutterstock_editorial_12682376a

11. Lane Kiffin

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Mississippi

  • Conference: SEC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $7,250,000

    • Per game: $604,167

    • Per minute of game time: $10,069

    • Per second of game time: $167.82

Jacob Kupferman/CSM
Jacob Kupferman/CSM

10. Jimbo Fisher

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Texas A&M

  • Conference: SEC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $7,500,000

    • Per game: $625,000

    • Per minute of game time: $10,417

    • Per second of game time: $173.61

Jose Marin/Marinmedia.Org/Ca/CSM/Shutterstock
Jose Marin/Marinmedia.Org/Ca/CSM/Shutterstock

9. Mario Cristobal

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Miami (Fla.)

  • Conference: ACC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $8,000,000

    • Per game: $666,667

    • Per minute of game time: $11,111

    • Per second of game time: $185.19

Charles Baus/CSM
Charles Baus/CSM

8. Dabo Swinney

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Clemson

  • Conference: ACC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $8,370,775

    • Per game: $697,565

    • Per minute of game time: $11,626

    • Per second of game time: $193.77

Young Kwak/AP
Young Kwak/AP

7. David Shaw

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Stanford

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $8,925,000

    • Per game: $743,750

    • Per minute of game time: $12,936

    • Per second of game time: $206.60

Jay LaPrete/AP
Jay LaPrete/AP

4. (tie) Ryan Day

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Ohio State

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $9,500,000

    • Per game: $791,667

    • Per minute of game time: $13,194

    • Per second of game time: $219.91

Adam Hunger/AP/Shutterstock
Adam Hunger/AP/Shutterstock

4. (tie) Mel Tucker

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Michigan State 

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $9,500,000

    • Per game: $791,667

    • Per minute of game time: $13,194

    • Per second of game time: $219.91

Brian_Kelly_shutterstock_editorial_12626450ah
Brian_Kelly_shutterstock_editorial_12626450ah

4. (tie) Brian Kelly

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Louisiana State

  • Conference: SEC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $9,500,000

    • Per game: $791,667

    • Per minute of game time: $13,194

    • Per second of game time: $219.91

Butch Dill/AP
Butch Dill/AP

3. Nick Saban

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Alabama

  • Conference: SEC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $9,753,221

    • Per game: $812,768

    • Per minute of game time: $13,5464

    • Per second of game time: $225.77

Lincoln_Riley_shutterstock_editorial_12865863a (2)
Lincoln_Riley_shutterstock_editorial_12865863a (2)

2. Lincoln Riley

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: University of Southern California

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $10,000,000 (this is a widely sourced estimate, as USC does not release official salary information)

    • Per game: $833,333

    • Per minute of game time: $13,889

    • Per second of game time: $231.48

Brett Davis / AP / University of Georgia Athletic Association
Brett Davis / AP / University of Georgia Athletic Association

1. Kirby Smart

  • School for upcoming 2022 season: Georgia

  • Conference: SEC

  • 2022 salary:

    • Pay: $11,250,000

    • Per game: $937,500

    • Per minute of game time: $15,625

    • Per second of game time: $260.42

More From GOBankingRates

Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates looked at NBCSports "Looking at the top college football head coach salaries in 2022" data and found the 15 highest paid college football coaches for the 2022 season. For each of the highlighted college football coaches GOBankingRates found (1) 2022 salary; (2) 2022 salary per regular season game; (3) 2022 salary per minute of gametime; and (4) 2022 salary per second of gametime. All data was collected and is up to date as of August 3, 2022.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Highest-Paid College Football Coaches for the 2022 Season