On August 30, when Texas A&M trots onto Kyle Field for its first game of the season, college football fans will be paying close attention to the $75 million investment on the sidelines. Last December, former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher agreed to a ten-year contract that would make him the sport’s fourth-highest-paid coach. Which prompts the question: Is it necessary to pay eye-popping salaries to get eye-popping results? To answer that, we calculated how much each Texas team in the elite Power Five conferences has shelled out per win since 2009. That was the year coach salaries in Texas started to go crazy, following UT-Austin’s decision to give Mack Brown a $2 million raise—even as the rest of the university, reeling from the Great Recession, operated under a pay freeze.
Other states, other conferences: The dollars-per-win rates of Texas coaches aren’t much different from those of other Power Five coaches across the country. Since 2009, Alabama has paid $511,000 per win, Oklahoma $434,000, and Clemson a bargain-basement $286,000 (Dabo Swinney didn’t get his big raise until 2016). Of course, Alabama’s hefty per-win rate also came with five national titles.
Teams in less competitive conferences spend a lot less. Boise State racked up an impressive 99 wins for only $131,000 apiece. Closer to home, the University of Houston paid out $155,000 per win. But don’t feel too bad for those cruelly underpaid Cougar coaches; in recent years, Tom Herman, Kevin Sumlin, and Art Briles have left Houston for bigger paydays at UT, A&M, and Baylor, respectively.