Saban inks extension, passes Harbaugh as highest paid coach

John Zenor, Associated Press

Montgomery, Ala. — Alabama is giving coach Nick Saban plenty of incentive to stick around — and to sign a contract extension in the first place.

University trustees on Tuesday approved a three-year extension through the 2024 season that could pay Saban at least $65 million over the next eight years and again make him college football’s highest-paid coach. Saban will make $11.125 million this year, counting a $4 million signing bonus and a $400,000 completion bonus.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is making $7 million a year, including a $2 million annual life insurance premium. He made $9 million last year, when he received the insurance payouts in both June and December.

The 65-year-old Saban, who has led Alabama to four national titles in the past seven seasons, said the extension ensures “our time here in Tuscaloosa will continue for many more years.”

“This has become our home and we are looking forward to finishing our career at Alabama,” he said in a statement.

Saban, a former MSU coach who won the 2013 BCS title at LSU, and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win five national championships in the AP poll era dating back to 1936. In January, Alabama lost to Clemson in the championship game after winning its fourth Southeastern Conference title in five years and third straight.

Saban will get up to $7.2 million in annual completion bonuses, with half of that due after the 2021 season. His base salary and “talent fee” will be $6.725 million each year, a slight decrease more than made up for through the bonuses.

It was the big-money deal among a number approved Tuesday by the trustees’ compensation committee in a conference call.

The trustees also approved a five-year deal for new athletic director Greg Byrne and raises for his assistants. Byrne will make $900,000 a year, with $25,000 annual raises starting next year.

New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will make $1.2 million annually under his three-year deal. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s new three-year contract is worth $4.2 million, including $100,000 raises each year.

Alabama gave Saban an eight-year deal worth $6.9 million annually in 2014. That marked a $1.3 million raise.

The Tide has won double-digit games for nine straight seasons and made each of the first three College Football Playoffs.

“It is an exciting day when we can announce that the best football coach in the country has agreed to a contract extension,” Byrne said. “Before I came to Alabama, I was always impressed with Coach Saban and how he ran his program. After being here and seeing firsthand the job that he does, I’ve come away even more impressed.

“Coach Saban has obviously won a lot of football games and championships, but he has also done an outstanding job when it comes to academics and community service.

“I don’t think you can measure the positive impact he and (wife) Ms. Terry have made over the last decade.”

University President Stuart Bell said Alabama’s success in football under Saban has helped the school overall.

“It is truly remarkable when you look at what Coach Saban has accomplished here over the last decade and how the success of the football program has raised the overall profile of our institution,” Bell said.