Head coach Tyson Helton, currently in his first season leading the WKU football team, is the seventh-highest paid coach in Conference USA and the 92nd-highest paid coach in the country, according to a list of college football head coach salaries published Tuesday by USA Today.
The list of salaries includes information for 122 of the 130 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches. The list excludes only “amounts from schools that are private; did not release the information; or amounts that cannot otherwise be determined,” according to the methodology.
Helton’s base pay for the 2019 season is $800,000. He has a maximum bonus of $400,000, and the school buyout for the first-year head coach is $1.2 million as of Dec. 1, 2019.
The amount WKU is paying its head football coach trails the other two FBS schools in the Commonwealth by a sizable margin. Kentucky currently has the 19th-highest paid coach in the country, while Louisville has the 41st-highest paid coach in the nation.
Mark Stoops is making $4.76 million in total pay with a maximum bonus of $2.75 million as head coach at Kentucky this season, while first-year Cardinals coach Scott Satterfield is making $3.25 million in total pay with a maximum bonus of $975,000.
Two former WKU head coaches are listed in the top 15 head coaches nationally by total compensation for the 2019 college football season — Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm and Florida State head coach Willie Taggart are listed at No. 8 and No. 15, respectively.
Brohm is eighth among FBS coaches with $6.6 million in total pay for his current contract year.
The figure includes a “$1.7 million one-time contract signing bonus … a $300,000 retention payment for remaining coach through Jan. 1, 2019 … [and a] $400,000 retention payment Brohm will receive only if he remains head coach through Dec. 31, 2019.”
Brohm made $808,720 in total pay during his final season as WKU head coach in 2016, with a maximum bonus of $450,000.
Florida State head coach Willie Taggart is 15th among FBS coaches with $5 million in total pay for his current contract year. The amount is based on a letter of agreement dated Dec. 5, 2017, not a full employment contract, according to a dialogue box with additional information.
Taggart made $479,800 in total pay during his final season as WKU head coach in 2012, with a maximum bonus of $168,750.
Purdue is 2-5 and FSU is 3-4 in 2019, but Brohm’s buyout carries a $27.65 million price tag and Taggart’s buyout would cost the Seminoles $17.7 million as of Dec. 1, 2019.