This season has been a special one for the IU football team. The Hoosiers won eight regular-season games for the first time in decades and earned themselves a trip to play in the Gator Bowl in the process, among other historic feats.
That rightfully led to IU head coach Tom Allen getting the bag earlier this month as he signed a seven-year contract extension that will pay him an average annual compensation of $3.9 million. That figure made Allen the highest-paid employee of the university and put his salary in line with that of other Big Ten coaches.
Before that, however, Allen wasn’t making much compared to his peers. According to USA Today’s database of college football coach salaries, the Hoosier head man brought in $1.805 million in 2019. That was more comparable to North Texas’ Seth Littrell, Colorado State’s Mike Bobo and Boise State’s Bryan Harsin than it was to PJ Fleck, Lovie Smith and Paul Chryst.
After doing a bit of nosing around and Running Some Numbers (read: entering data into a spreadsheet and writing some formulae) I was able to confirm that in 2019, Allen was the best deal of any Power 5 head coach in terms of dollars paid per win.
IU got every penny’s worth out of Allen this season as he made $225,625 per win. This, of course, was because of the combination of Allen’s lower salary and his team’s relative success.
An interesting note is that the average FBS team won 6.42 regular-season games this season and the average of the 122 FBS salaries released is $2,658,563. For reference, the schools not included in the USA Today database are Rice, Temple, Miami (FL), Army, Liberty, BYU, Air Force and SMU. Therefore, the average amount of money spent per regular-season win by an FBS program this season was $414,106. IU’s figure was just over half of that.
The deal that IU got was even better when compared to the rest of the Big Ten. The average Big Ten team won 7.31 games in 2019. The average Big Ten head coach was paid $4,588,721. Doing some division shows that the average Big Ten school paid its head coach $627,930 per win this year. Rutger was excluded from these figures because of the firing of Chris Ash.
The closest deal in the conference to IU’s was Minnesota. Minnesota paid Fleck an even $360,000 per win during the Gophers’ 10-win season this year. Ohio State had the third-best deal in the conference, by dollars per win anyway, as it paid Ryan Day $375,000 per win.
On the other hand, however, the Big Ten had some ugly deals. In fact, two of the three worst (the two worst if you don’t want to count mid-season firee Chad Morris) deals belong to the conference.
Of the 122 reporting schools it was Arkansas that paid the most per win of any school at $2 million a pop. That might be part of the season that Morris was shown the door. In the second and third spots were Northwestern and Purdue, a pair of underachievers this year because of various factors (i.e. Mick McCall and some sort of weird injury plague descending on the football stadium). Northwestern paid Pat Fitzgerald $1,714,979 per win this year while Purdue paid Jeff Brohm $1.65 million even.
Tack on rutger as well as Nebraska and the Big Ten has four of the bottom 10 dollars-per-win figures in FBS. The Huskers just get into the field in a tie for 10th with Georgia Tech.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten coaches comparing their salaries and win totals from this season:
As you can tell it’s a mixed bag with the aforementioned highs and lows as well as a few coaches in-between.
Now it’s less likely that Allen will outperform his contract moving forward, as his salary will more than double on his new deal—a seven-year extension on which he’ll average $3.9 million.
The days of the IU head coach being a steal, at least at this level, are likely over, though he’s still just the 12th-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten.