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SEC Football Coaches

Going back decades, SEC football coaches are very much the royalty of the South. Players come and go at the storied SEC football programs, but the coach can often be the mainstay and the face of the program for decades. Unless, of course, things aren’t going well. Time and time again, programs will opt to pay large buyouts just to get rid of a failed coach. The SEC football coach matters, and every football program down south is desperate to find “the guy.”

The current crop of SEC football coaches is perhaps as varied as it has ever been. Any list of SEC football coaches (and perhaps all NCAA football coaches) starts with Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban. But Kirby Smart has Georgia on the rise as arguably the “new Alabama.” Veteran coaches such as Brian Kelly, Mark Stoops, Jimbo Fisher and Sam Pittman are all angling for that next level of success at their current programs. Younger, but experienced, guys like Josh Heupel, Eli Drinkwitz and Billy Napier are trying to bring their programs back into championship contention. And who can forget Lane Kiffin? Perhaps no SEC football coach entertains and delights like the Lane Train down in Oxford.

SEC Football Coach Bio Pages

When it comes to SEC football coaches, there is a wide range of experience. At one end, you have Nick Saban, who is one of the winningest coaches of all time. At the other end of the spectrum, you have Mississippi State’s Zach Arnett, who has a whopping 1 game of head coaching experience under his belt.

But every SEC coach brings something unique to the table, and all of them have their own distinct histories and personalities.

To learn more about each of the current SEC football coaches, check out our in-depth coach bio pages below:

Next, we’ll take a look at some interesting information involving the current SEC football coaches, including salaries, buyout numbers and overall SEC records.

SEC Football Coaches Salaries

How much do the SEC football coaches make? Here’s a look at what each SEC coach who was at his school in 2022 made last season:

Coach School 2023 Salary
Nick Saban Alabama $11,700,000
Kirby Smart Georgia $11,200,000
Brian Kelly LSU $9,500,000
Jimbo Fisher Texas A&M $9,500,000
Lane Kiffin Ole Miss $9,000,000
Josh Heupel Tennessee $9,000,000
Mark Stoops Kentucky $8,600,000
Billy Napier Florida $7,200,000
Hugh Freeze Auburn $6,500,000
Shane Beamer South Carolina $6,200,000
Sam Pittman Arkansas $6,000,000
Eli Drinkwitz Mizzou $6,000,000
Zach Arnett Mississippi State $3,000,000

Vanderbilt does not publicly release its salary information, so Clark Lea’s compensation has not been revealed.

As you can see, being among the 14 SEC football coaches is a lucrative profession. The pressure is high, yes, but so is the compensation. Depending on who has strong 2023 seasons, it’s safe to say more raises will be handed out this coming offseason.

Other schools are always eager to poach top talent from the SEC, so keeping the paychecks large is one way the league keeps its elite coaching talent in place.

SEC Football Coaches Buyouts

SEC athletic departments have deep pockets, and that means boosters and administrators aren’t afraid to pull the plug and fire a coach if the team is struggling on the field. We’ve seen some big-time buyouts paid out in recent years.

That trend is sure to continue moving forward, so let’s take a look at each SEC coach’s current buyout number. Here’s what each SEC school would owe its coach if he’s fired before the conclusion of the 2023 season:

Coach School Buyout (as of 12/1/2022)
Kirby Smart Georgia $103,104,167
Jimbo Fisher Texas A&M $86,700,000
Brian Kelly LSU $78,622,917
Nick Saban Alabama $43,200,000
Billy Napier Florida $39,000,833
Mark Stoops Kentucky $31,078,125
Hugh Freeze Auburn $29,250,000*
Josh Heupel Tennessee $25,833,333
Eli Drinkwitz Mizzou $8,750,000
Shane Beamer South Carolina $5,511,458

(Source: USA TODAY)

Buyout information isn’t available for the Mississippi coaches — Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Zach Arnett at Mississippi State. Vanderbilt doesn’t release contract information publicly.

That leaves us with Arkansas’s Sam Pittman, who has an interesting buyout setup. If he’s fired without cause, he’s owed 75% of the money remaining on his contract. If the Razorbacks have a record below .500 when he’s fired, though, he’s only owed 50% of his remaining money.

Jimbo Fisher Buyout

Jimbo Fisher’s buyout numbers deserve their own section on this page, as it is a constant source of conversation in College Station and around the SEC.

Starting with the 2023 season, here’s a breakdown of how much Texas A&M would owe Fisher if he’s fired after the conclusion of each campaign:

Coming off a massively disappointing 5-7 overall record in 2022, Fisher and the Aggies are under a lot of pressure to turn things around in a hurry entering 2023. If the struggles continue, you can bet that Fisher’s buyout number will once again be a major topic of discussion in College Station and around the SEC.

Winningest SEC Football Coaches of All-Time

Some of the best coaches in the country have brought their skills to the SEC — Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, General Robert Neyland, Johnny Majors, Urban Meyer and many, many more — with varying degrees of success.

In the SEC, dominance is measured not only on a national scale, but by how well you do against your fellow SEC squads. Below, you can see the 25 coaches with the most career victories as an SEC head coach against other SEC teams:

Coach SEC Regular-Season Wins
Paul "Bear" Bryant 159
Nick Saban 147
Steve Spurrier 131
John Vaught 106
Vince Dooley 105
Ralph "Shug" Jordan 98
Phillip Fulmer 98
Mark Richt 85
Wallace Butts 67
Tommy Tuberville 64
Les Miles 64
Charlie McClendon 62
Robert Neyland 62
Frank Thomas 59
Johnny Majors 57
Dan Mullen 54
Houston Nutt 52
Kirby Smart 50
Doug Dickey 49
Pat Dye 48
Jackie Sherrill 43
Gus Malzahn 40
Urban Meyer 39
Gene Stallings 38
Ray Graves 36

(Source: SEC Media Guide)

SEC Championship Game victories are included in the above totals. During the 2022 season, Kirby Smart recorded 9 SEC wins (an 8-0 regular-season conference record and an SEC title game win), jumping from No. 21 to No. 18 on the all-time list. Meanwhile, Nick Saban continues his quest to chase down Bear Bryant’s all-time SEC win total.

College Football Coaching Legends

While this page is mostly focused on current SEC football coaches, it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning several current and past coaches who have either led SEC programs to great success or have been thorns in the sides of SEC squads.

So, while they aren’t necessarily active SEC coaches, here are some biography pages for some legendary coaches (past and present) in the college football world:

Which current coaches will become the next crop of legends? We’ll see what happens over the next few years of college football as Nick Saban (likely) inches closer to retirement and a new batch of budding legends like Kirby Smart and others take over the mantle.

Kevin Duffey
A graduate of the University of Florida and founder of Saturday Down South, Kevin is a college football enthusiast.

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