It should come as no surprise that the folks in Alabama are passionate about their football. It's a small state with limited resources, yet the coaches of its two major programs combined to make more than $11 million a year. That's roughly $2 per resident. By comparison, Texas head coach Charlie Strong and Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin would have to earn a combined $50 million to match Alabama's dollar-per-resident ratio. The people in Alabama love their football and are more than willing to put their money where their heart lies, is what we're saying.
And with that said, coaching salaries in Alabama's high school ranks is beginning to mirror - or in some cases surpass - the arms race that FBS has seen over the past 10 years. To wit, according to a report by AL.com, the title of Alabama's highest-paid high school football coach has changed hands four times in the last 10 months alone.
Last June, Hewitt-Trussville lured Josh Floyd, a four-time state champion in Arkansas, with a $120,000 salary, the highest in the state at the time. Then Thompson gave Mark Freeman a raise to $121,000 a year, only to be quickly surpassed in February after Auburn hired Fairhope head coach Adam Winegarden and gave him a $123,000 salary. Finally, earlier this month Hoover head coach Josh Niblett jumped to the front of the line with a raise from $114,471 to a state-best $125,000. And most of these guys don't even teach.
“It has kind of been getting outrageous," Niblett told AL.com. "It started off with the money college coaches were making, but I think if you go to other states like Texas or Georgia you will find [high school] guys making a lot more than $125,000. The numbers those guys are making -- and not teaching -- are unbelievable.”
In all, AL.com found nine coaches topping six figures; the site also reported that less than a dozen years ago the state's highest paid coach earned a shade over $86,000 a year. It's a trend that no one in the state is necessarily proud of, but all recognize as the cost of doing business at the highest level of high school football in the state.
“That was sure going to be OK with me, brother, to pass that highest-paid coach in the state stuff on,” Freeman said. “That brings a lot of pressure, but at the same time no coach I know got into coaching and working with kids to make more money than anybody else.”