Another college football season is upon us, and you can expect Alabama and Clemson to again be fighting for spots in the College Football Playoffs. They have been two of the best programs in the FBS over the last decade, and the institutions have handsomely rewarded their head coaches. Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney are two of the highest-paid coaches in college football. Let’s take a look at how much each makes to see who makes more money.
The Nick Saban-Dabo Swinney rivalry
Entering 2019, the College Football Playoff has been around for five seasons, and Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney’s teams have met in the championship game three times in those five years, bumping up the on-field rivalry between the coaches.
Alabama won the first contest in a 45-40 shootout to end the 2014-15 season. Clemson came back the next year to win another close one, 35-31, to even it up at one win apiece.
When the teams met again to conclude last season, Clemson won in a blowout, 44-16. That means Swinney leads Saban in the head-to-head rivalry in the three College Football Playoff finals their teams have played against each other.
The off-the-field “rivalry”
The rivalry between the coaches extends to off the field, as well. A few years ago, Swinney bought a house in an island community in southwest Florida where he could vacation for a few weeks a year to just relax and forget about college football for a little while.
Then Nick Saban moved down there and the community wasn’t as quiet as it was previously. As Swinney described the situation, the town began with being quiet because “nobody’s there. Then all crap breaks loose” when Saban arrives in town.
Nick Saban’s contract
Last summer — for the third time in as many years — Alabama reworked Saban’s contract, giving him a bit of a pay bump. The contract came in the wake of Saban leading the Crimson Tide to the team’s fifth national championship in nine seasons.
The new pact paid Saban a base salary of $7.5 million last season, with an $800,000 “contract extension/championship signing incentive.” Under the new deal, Saban made about $1.5 million more in 2018 than he was previously slated to earn.
For this season, his compensation is set at $8.7 million — a $7.9 million salary with another $800,000 bonus, and his base salary is scheduled to continue rising $400,000 a year under the terms of his current contract. Nick Saban’s total contract is worth $74 million over eight years.
Dabo Swinney’s contract
Swinney signed a new contract with Clemson earlier this year. It’s a 10-year deal worth more than $90 million. Swinney’s minimum guarantee for this season is $8.25 million, but there are incentives that could boost that amount even higher.
Swinney gets a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship, $200,000 for winning an ACC title, and $50,000 if he wins a coach of the year award. In the highly unlikely event that Clemson fires Swinney in the first two years of the deal, the school will owe him a $50 million buyout, which decreases over time. And if Swinney leaves Clemson to become Alabama’s coach, he will owe the school a $6 million penalty.
Both teams are expected to be near the top of the rankings again throughout this season. In fact, Clemson is No. 1 in the preseason top 25 poll while Alabama is right behind at No. 2. Clemson is the favorite to repeat, and their QB Trevor Lawrence is the Heisman favorite in many people’s opinions.
But Saban won’t go down without a fight, and he has his own Heisman hopeful quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who will be looking to lead the Tide to an undefeated season and a spot in the College Football Playoff for the sixth straight season. When it comes to current contracts, Swinney has a narrow edge. However, if career earnings are calculated Saban would surely be the winner.