Sports | November 30, 2021 3:06 pm

USC’s Lincoln Riley and LSU’s Brian Kelly Are College Football’s New $100M Men

It sounds as if both Riley and Kelly will make somewhere in the range of the $10.7 million Nick Saban makes at Alabama

Brian Kelly coaches against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium
Brian Kelly coaches against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium.
Michael Hickey/Getty

Despite the popularity of other athletic endeavors, football is the only sport that generates a profit at most colleges and universities, and athletic directors have really started to treat the game like the moneymaker it is.

Think $100 million contracts, college-comped luxury housing and 24/7 use of a private jet — all of which are reportedly part of the contract that head Lincoln Riley just signed to depart the University of Oklahoma for the University of Southern California.

“Lincoln Riley USC contract details (not confirmed; best I could do): – $110 million – USC buying both his homes in Norman for $500,000 over asking ($1 million bonus) – Buying a $6 million home in LA for him – Unlimited use of the private jet 24/7 for family,” Robert Hefner, who claims to get all his information from a Sooners insider, posted on Twitter.

Following the news about Riley (who signed a contract that was approved by the OU Board of Regents in 2019 for five years and $32.5 million and may have to pay the university back some of his base salary), it was announced that Louisiana State University is set to hire Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly on a 10-year deal that’s worth more than $100 million with incentives, according to sources. 

Though neither Riley nor Kelly has won a BCS National Championship, it sounds as if both will make somewhere in the range of the $10.7 million that Nick Saban, who has won seven national titles over the course of his career, makes at Alabama.

Even though Notre Dame completed an 11-1 season on Saturday and the team has a 58% chance of making the College Football Playoff for the third time in four seasons, Kelly opted to become the first coach to leave the Fighting Irish to take a job at another school since The Associated Press poll started in 1936, per the AP.

As we’ve seen in the past month with Michigan State giving head coach Mel Tucker a 10-year, $95 million deal and Penn State extending James Franklin’s contract to 10 years at $7.5 million per season, money talks and is more than enough to get the biggest names in college football to stay — or walk.

“No,” Kelly said last week when asked if he’d ever leave Notre Dame. “I mean, look, I think Mike Tomlin had the best line, right? Unless that fairy godmother comes by with that $250M check, my wife would want to take a look at it first. I’d have to run it by her.”

Even though the fairy godmother’s check was about $150M short of Kelly’s asking price, apparently it was enough.

Makes you wonder about what Tomlin, or any other football coach offered $100M with perks to boot, might do.