Deion Sanders, underpaid? He leads the way among the best coaching contracts in college football.

Deion Sanders, underpaid? He leads the way among the best coaching contracts in college football.

Deion Sanders is worth every penny of the $5.5 million he will make this season just for the eyes he has brought to Colorado football.

Some schools are receiving huge profits from contracts awarded to some of the most successful coaches in the country. This is especially true of two Pac-12 programs, Colorado and Washington, who were handsomely rewarded for their investments in Deion Sanders and Kalen DeBoer, respectively. But in terms of value for money, the biggest returns are found at the Group of Five conferences. That’s where you’ll find three of the best deals on USA TODAY Sports’ list of college football’s highest-paid coaches.

Deion Sanders, Colorado

Before we get to the actual product, Sanders is already worth every penny of the $5.5 million he’ll make this season just for the eyes he’s brought back to Colorado over one Generation after program last contact with national attention. Add to that the Buffaloes’ apparent improvement amid an unprecedented offseason overhaul of one of the Power Five’s weakest teams. Despite losses to Oregon and Southern California, Colorado is still on pace to be in good shape after making the playoffs just twice since 2008. Kalen DeBoer, Washington

Colorado and Sanders sucked all the oxygen out of the Pac-12 to keep DeBoer and Washington flying well under the radar. But all the Huskies have done since the start of last season is destroy teams with one of the best offenses in the country led by Michael Penix Jr., the most efficient passer in the FBS. DeBoer is now 16-2 in Washington and this year’s team is nearly unstoppable, making him a marauder with an annual base salary of $4.2 million, seventh among Pac-12 coaches work at public universities.

Jeff Tedford, Fresno State

Tedford won at least 10 games in three of his four seasons at Fresno State in two separate stints, and the Bulldogs were headed in that direction again in 2023 after going 4-0 in nonconference games conference (5 -0 overall) with road wins over Purdue and Arizona State. With a 41-18 overall record over four years after going 82-57 at California from 2002-2012, Tedford is the most successful coach in the Mountain West. But with a total salary of $1.55 million this season, Tedford earned less than five other coaches in the conference.

Charles Huff, Marshall

Huff is 20-10 in two-plus seasons at Marshall and led the Thundering Herd from Conference USA to the Sun Belt without missing a beat. This year’s team was picked to finish fourth in the East Division, but picked up wins over East Carolina and Virginia Tech, making Huff a more logical candidate for the Power Five spots that will open up this winter. One of the highest-rated recruiters in the industry, Huff earned just $755,500 this season, ranking 10th among 14 coaches in the Sun Belt.

Jerry Kill, New Mexico State

Kill wins at every stop:
Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Minnesota and now New Mexico State. One of the hardest places to win in all of college football, NMSU played in a bowl game in Kill’s debut and has a chance to get back there in 2023, despite a 20- 17 against Hawaii on September 24 dropped the Aggies to 2-3. Kill earned $600,000 this season, which was the lowest among Conference USA coaches at public universities, in an agreement that runs until 2027.

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