Tom Allen and Indiana agreed to a new seven-year deal soon after he was named the 2020 Big Ten Coach of the Year and American Football Coaches Association national coach of the year.
Two and a half years in the rearview mirror, that new deal has been the subjection of much derision — with the benefit of hindsight, of course. Allen and the Hoosiers have gone 8-21 since, including just a 2-18 mark in Big Ten contests.
But where does Allen’s contract place him among his peers nationally and in the Big Ten?
USA Today has published their annual table summarizing college football head coach salaries across the country.
Allen’s $4.51 million salary for the 2023 season ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 39th in the nation. The table doesn’t include salaries for coaches at private schools, so Allen is almost certainly a couple spots lower than 39th.
USA Today cites the correct buyout of Allen’s contract — $20.4 million at the end of this season. That figure was negotiated by Allen and IU following a successful two-year run in 2019-20 that saw the Hoosiers go 14-7, and it’s a source of frustration for many Indiana fans.
But here’s the reality — at least nine Big Ten coaches have larger buyouts if you include ousted Michigan State coach Mel Tucker, whose buyout was more than $70 million according to reports. MSU might be able to avoid that because they fired him for cause, but in general, there’s not much of a chance to avoid massive buyouts for Power Five head coaches. And those gaudy deals will only grow in the era of conference expansion and accompanying mega TV deals.
To that end, the Big Ten is another part of IU’s reality when it comes to Allen’s salary. He has just the 11th highest annual salary in the league, but he’s still top-40 in the nation. All of the schools in the Big Ten have cash flow, mainly from television, and that factors into contract negotiations. Any coach IU tries to hire will compare their deal to the rest of the league.
Here is how the Big Ten coaches rank based on total annual compensation according to USA Today, with their place in the national rankings shown before the names.
4 Ryan Day Ohio State $10,271,250
5 Mel Tucker Michigan State $10,015,350
11 James Franklin Penn State $8,500,000
12 Jim Harbaugh Michigan $8,254,600
13 Luke Fickell Wisconsin $7,625,000
18 Kirk Ferentz Iowa $7,000,000
21 Bret Bielema Illinois $6,500,000
26 P.J. Fleck Minnesota $6,000,000
33 Matt Rhule Nebraska $5,500,000
34 Mike Locksley Maryland $5,500,000
39 Tom Allen Indiana $4,510,000
49 Ryan Walters Purdue $4,000,000
50 Greg Schiano Rutgers $4,000,000
130 David Braun Northwestern — not disclosed
USA Today notes Allen’s School Pay includes $500,000 retention payment that is deemed earned on a monthly basis, but will not actually be paid to Allen until Nov. 30, 2023, unless his employment is terminated before that date.
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