College football coaching salary boom may impact pros

When Michigan State agreed to a fully guaranteed $95 million deal with head football coach Mel Tucker last week, a longtime agent representing both NFL coaches and players framed it in a context that would foreshadow the week to come.

“That [Tucker] deal is stunning,” he said. “USC and LSU might be $15 million [per season] now. Nick Saban is probably going to double his salary at Alabama.”

And the NFL?

“Everyone is going to get paid a lot more,” the agent said. “If competitive Power Five [conference] jobs are paying this, the top jobs could lure some NFL head coaches going the other way [back to college]. But it’s more impactful for the good young offensive coordinators like [the Dallas Cowboys’] Kellen Moore and [Indianapolis Colts’] Marcus Brady and [the Kansas City Chiefs’] Eric Bieniemy. … How many Mel Tuckers are coaching in the NFL as coordinators this year? 

“Matt Rhule’s contract [$8.5 million per season with the Carolina Panthers] was a huge deal for a college coach coming to the NFL. Now Michigan State is paying Mel Tucker almost $100 million with better guarantees than what Rhule got and Tucker hasn’t even been there for two years. It’s all out of whack when you compare the compensation between the two levels.”

That was all before this week, when Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC in what’s reportedly going to be a $110 million deal, and Brian Kelly ditched Notre Dame for LSU and a reported $100 million pact. Neither of those deals has been officially fleshed out, but the packages were big enough to invite a familiar sentiment on Tuesday from a second agent who has done contracts for both college and NFL coaches.

“This s—t is INSANE,” the agent texted. “Saban and [Ohio State’s] Ryan Day are getting ready to sign deals that average $15-20 mil per year. And Kirby [Smart at Georgia].”

Then he put the next bit into context: Most first-time NFL head coaches were previously landing deals at $5 million a season. The…

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