All seven FBS programs in Florida have dealt with coaching turmoil in recent seasons.
Florida State, Florida and Central Florida all hired new coaches this offseason. FIU, Florida Atlantic and South Florida have coaches just starting their second seasons at the school. Somehow Mark Richt, who’s only in his third season as Miami’s coach, is Florida’s elder statesman.
All five schools have varying levels of optimism about their situations now and the money they’re spending bears it out. The Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators employ three of the 22 highest paid coaches in the nation, according to USA Today’s coaching salaries database, which was published Wednesday.
Unsurprisingly, Alabama’s Nick Saban sets the pace for the country with an $8,307,000 base salary, plus a maximum bonus of $1.1 million. Saban’s base salary is more than $700,000 more than Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, who checks in at No. 2 nationally.
Florida’s Dan Mullen tops the list of Florida coaches with his $6,070,000 base salary, which also makes him the eighth highest paid coach in the country. Florida State’s Willie Taggart follows Mullen as the second highest paid coach in Florida and his $5 million salary ties him for 10th nationally with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Illinois’ Lovie Smith and Nebraska’s Scott Frost, who left UCF for the Cornhuskers in the offseason.
Richt, meanwhile, seems like a relative bargain. The Hurricanes coach is the nation’s 22nd highest paid at $4,058,061. Because Miami is a private school, USA Today reported Richt’s contract based on 2016 tax returns.
For the Florida schools outside Power 5 Conference, the Knights are still ponying up most for their coach. Josh Heupel leads the way among the next group with a $1.7 million base salary, making him the 69th highest paid coach in the country. FAU’s Lane Kiffin and USF’s Charlie Strong are both tied for 81st at $1 million annually, and FIU’s Butch Davis rounds out the group of in-state coaches with a $945,000 salary.
All coaches are early enough in their tenures — or successful enough — to be away from the hot seat right now, which is definitely a good thing for at least the Seminoles.
Taggart’s $21,958,333 buyout is 11th largest among those USA Today was able to report.