Brian Kelly, Mel Tucker, James Franklin and Jimbo Fisher

Even by the up-always-up standards of college football coaches’ compensation, the past week has redefined the top end of the pay scale in ways that seemed pretty hard to imagine even this past summer.

But then Texas A&M announced it had agreed to a 10-year, $95 million contract with Jimbo Fisher. And an elite-level job opened at Southern California. And another at LSU. And another at Florida. Whether playing defense to keep a coach or going on offense to hire one from another school, university officials and governing boards have agreed to deals with so many years and so many guaranteed dollars that unstable jobs have now become almost tenured positions.

USA TODAY Sports has been tracking college football coaches’ compensation since 2006 and athletics department finances, dating from the 2004-05 school year. Here’s some context on recent agreements totaling roughly $375 million, not including incentives, for Fisher, LSU’s Brian Kelly, Michigan State’s Mel Tucker and Penn State’s James Franklin. Except as noted, this does not include the deal between USC and Lincoln Riley, which is reasonably presumed to be at least comparable to those four, but is not subject to disclosure because USC is a private school.

BONUS BUCKS: Breaking down Brian Kelly’s contract at LSU

ANALYSIS: Four reasons college football coaches salaries have gone crazy

The buyouts

Texas A&M announced a contract extension for coach Jimbo Fisher on Sept 1., bumping his pay from $7.5 million this year to $9 million in 2022.

In 2017, USA TODAY Sports began annually reporting on the amounts that would be owed to football head coaches if they were fired without cause on Dec. 1 of that year (roughly the end of the football season). In 2017, the average amount that would have been owed to the coaches with the four largest buyouts was $34.2 million. As of…


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