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Highest-Paid NCAA Football Coaches: Nick Saban, Urban Meyer… and Lovie Smith?

Lovie Smith made the list? 

In an unsurprising turn of events, Alabama's dynasty-maker Nick Saban, who has led the Crimson Tide to five national championships during his tenure, is the highest paid college football coach in 2018, raking in over $8.3 million this year. Saban is also eligible for up to $1.1 million in bonus money. 

Ohio State's Urban Meyer takes the No. 2 slot with a $7.6 million salary for 2018, with Michigan's Jim Harbaugh coming in a close third with $7.504 million. Harbaugh's max bonus of $1,325,000, however, tops Meyer's by over half a million dollars. Jimbo Fisher's new position at the helm of Texas A&M's program puts him at No. 4 with $7.5 million flat, while Auburn's Gus Malzahn rounds out the top-5. 

The SEC and the Big Ten combine for nine of the top-10 spots. The five SEC schools atop the list shell out whopping $35,180,600 to their coaches, while the Big Ten's top three coaches combine for a guaranteed salary of $20.1 million.

While college football's most storied programs take the cake when it comes to paying their coaches the big bucks, a few unexpected names made the list. Illinois's Lovie Smith snuck his way into the No. 13 spot with a $5 million salary, while Iowa's Kirk Ferentz managed the No. 17 slot with a $2,875,000 bonus on a $4.7 million base. 

See the top-20 highest paid coaches below: 

1) Nick Saban, Alabama

2) Urban Meyer, Ohio State

3) Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

4) Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M

5) Gus Malzahn, Auburn

6) Kirby Smart, Georgia

7) Dabo Swinney, Clemson

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8) Dan Mullen, Florida

9) Tom Herman, Texas

10) Scott Frost, Nebraska

11) Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

12) Willie Taggart, Florida State

13) Lovie Smith, Illinois

14) Gary Patterson, Texas Christian

15) James Franklin, Penn State

16) Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma

17) Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

18) Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

19) Chris Petersen, Washington

20) David Shaw, Stanford