Not only does Nick Saban have one of the most lucrative contracts in college football, his deal guarantees that it will stay that way, no matter what other schools decide to do.
There is no name more synonymous with this era of college football than Nick Saban. The legendary Alabama Crimson Tide head coach has won seven national championships, 10 SEC titles, two National Coach of the Year awards, and has brought Bama to all but one College Football Playoff since the event’s inception in 2015.
He’s made Alabama the college football equivalent of the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, and Duke men’s basketball combined — and this year’s team has a chance to be his best ever. Right on cue, the university announced on Aug. 23 that it had further extended Saban’s deal through the end of the 2029 season.
So, how much is the university paying perhaps the single greatest football coach of all time? Let’s dive into the details of Bama’s massive new Nick Saban contract extension.
Nick Saban Contract Details
Alabama hired Saban in 2007 for an initial eight-year deal worth $32 million, and while ’07 may not feel too long ago, it’s eons in the world of college football and its coaching contracts. Since then, he’s more than doubled his annual pay, racked up millions in bonuses, and ensured he will stay at the top of the college football salary mountain for as long as he wants to continue coaching.
Here are the basics of his current contract:
Signed: Aug. 24, 2022
Length: 8 years (through 2029 season)
Annual Base Salary: $305,000
Talent Fee: $9,595,000
Annual Retention Bonus: $800,000 annually through 2025
Total Salary for 2022 Season: $10,700,000 (does not include performance or academic bonuses)
While Saban’s base yearly salary and retention bonus are static through the terms in his current deal, the talent fee — that’s where he gets the bulk of his money — is set up with regular raises. He will make a $9,595,000 talent fee this year and next before annual $400,000 raises kick in.
Nick Saban talent fee salary by year:
It’s important to note that it’s highly unlikely that Saban and Alabama see this deal through to its bitter end without some additional restructuring along the way — more on that in a minute — but this still provides a good look at the bare minimum that Saban will receive, provided he coaches through 2029, when he will be 78. Some quick math shows that, excluding performance bonuses, his entire current contract is worth $93,200,000.
Staying on Top
Saban has a clause in his contract that is, shall we say, extremely Nick Saban.
Basically, it’s there to ensure he remains one of the highest-paid — if not the highest-paid — coaches in all of college football for the full duration. The contract calls him and the university to meet each February and calculate the average salary of both the three highest-paid SEC head coaches and five highest-paid coaches nationally; if Saban’s total salary is lower than either of those two averages, his pay will be raised to match the higher one.
For the purposes of this clause, Saban’s total salary is defined as his base salary and talent fee. In 2022, this would be $9,900,000.
Nick Saban Buyout Details
Try to stifle your laughter. As is often the case, if Nick Saban is fired for cause — think felony conviction, egregious NCAA violations, literally not doing his job — then Alabama will not owe him a dime more than he has already been paid.
The buyout comes if he is fired “without cause,” meaning the university somehow thinks he’s not winning enough games and that they can find someone who can do the job better. Should that happen, Alabama would owe Saban the total of his base salary plus his talent fee for the next 48 months of his contract, or for the full remainder of the deal if he is fired closer to the end.
If this happens, I recommend you stock up on canned goods and head down to your bunker, as we’re presumably entering the end times.
You know Saban has set himself up to make plenty of extra money simply by winning football games — something he does better than anyone in the business. His athletic and academic bonus structure is relatively simple, as outlined here:
SEC Championship Game:
- $75,000 for appearing in the game, *OR*…
- $125,000 for winning it
- $65,000 for appearing in any bowl game, *OR*…
- $90,000 for playing in the Gator Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Outback Bowl, or any other bowl game with an SEC tie-in, *OR*…
- $200,000 for playing in a New Years 6 bowl, *OR*…
- $400,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff semifinals, *OR*…
- $600,000 for reaching the National Championship Game, *OR*…
- $800,000 for winning the National Championship
Pay attention to all those ORs. Saban can only earn one of the bowl game bonuses per year.
SEC Coach of the Year:
- $25,000 for winning the award he’s been given five times previously
National Coach of the Year:
- $50,000 for winning ANY national coach of the year award
- $50,000 if Alabama football’s graduation rate is in the top 50% of the SEC, *OR*…
- $100,000 if it is among the top four SEC teams
Add it all together and in the best-case scenario — one in which Alabama wins the SEC and national championships, Saban is SEC and National Coach of the Year, and the team does its very best academically — and Saban can take home an additional $1.1 million.
Nick Saban’s Additional Allowances and Perks
In addition to the millions of dollars Saban will make annually, he is also entitled to the following:
- 15 seated skybox seats and 7 standing skybox tickets for each football home game
- 12 general admission tickets for each football home game
- Complimentary tickets to other Alabama home games at the Athletic Director’s discretion
- Country club membership, paid for by the university
- 25 hours maximum of flight time per year on a non-commercial airline to be used for non-business purposes
- 2 full-sized automobiles for business or personal use