Big Ten football head coach salaries: Where does James Franklin rank?

Kirby Smart is the new highest paid coach in college football, but who is the highest paid coach in the Big Ten conference.
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day and Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day and Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin / Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Last week Georgia rightfully made Kirby Smart the highest-paid coach in college football, awarding him with a two-year contract extension and a raise to usurp Dabo Swinney’s $11 million salary. Smart is now signed through 2033 at his alma mater and making $13 million a year. 

Now, there may be some Big Ten head coaches interested in a raise too. Ohio State’s Ryan Day was the highest-paid head coach in the conference until the four schools from the Pac-12 arrived and reconfigured the landscape. Now, Day is No. 2 and Penn State’s James Franklin is way down the list. 

UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Washington bring some big name coaches with them to the league. Dan Lanning is one of the hottest names in the sport and was rumored to be one of Alabama’s top targets to replace Nick Saban and before him, Lincoln Riley was that young coach and he cashed in on his reputation at USC. 

Franklin has just one Big Ten title over his 10 seasons in Happy Valley and has never made the College Football Playoff, but with five double-digit win seasons since heading up north from Vanderbilt, he’s much more accomplished than some of the coaches who are cashing bigger checks than he is. 

Penn State fans would argue he’s overpaid and many would be happy to hold the door on his way out if 2024 is another disappointing season, but considering the market, Franklin might actually be underpaid. If Penn State wants to compete with USC, Oregon, and Ohio State in the new Big Ten, then it may need to find the resources to pay the right head coach. 

18. David Braun, Northwestern Wildcats: Unknown

17. DeShaun Foster, UCLA Bruins: $3 million

16. Ryan Walters, Purdue Boilermakers: $4 million

15. Curt Cignetti, Indiana Hoosiers: $4.25 million

14. Matt Rhule, Nebraska Cornhuskers: $5.5 million

T10. Sherrone Moore, Michigan Wolverines: $6 million

T10. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota Golden Gophers: $6 million

T10. Jonathan Smith, Michigan State Spartans: $6 million

T10. Bret Bielema, Illinois Fighting Illini: $6 million

9. Mike Locksley, Maryland Terrapins: $6.1 million

8. Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights: $6.2 million

7. James Franklin, Penn State Nittany Lions: $6.5 million

T5. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes: $7 million

T5. Dan Lanning, Oregon Ducks: $7 million

4. Luke Fickell, Wisconsin Badgers: 7.6 million

3. Jedd Fisch, Washington Huskies: $7.7 million

2. Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes: $9.5 million

1. Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans: $10 million

James Franklin is setting up Drew Allar to fail. dark. Next. James Franklin is setting up Drew Allar to fail