The financial details of Jim Harbaugh’s restructured contract with Michigan were revealed Thursday. At an average of $7.3 million per year over the next 5 years, Harbaugh is now the 4th-highest paid coach in the Big Ten.

This got us thinking, as these things always do — who among Big Ten coaches is overpaid? Who is underpaid? And how many coaches are making the proper amount for their services?

To be clear, this grading is being done on a relative scale. One could make a compelling argument that all of these coaches are overpaid given that the players aren’t, but that’s a discussion for another time.

We are working strictly within the framework of the market rate for other football coaches.

Bret Bielema, Illinois

Salary: $4.2 million

Record at Illinois: 5-7

Verdict: Just right

Bielema is making a little bit more than his position warrants, but given his previous B1G success at Wisconsin, it’s a fair price.

Tom Allen, Indiana

Salary: $4.7 million

Record at Indiana: 26-32

Verdict: Just right

Allen docked $200,000 off of his pay for 2022 following Indiana’s awful 2021 season. That 2-10 debacle brought his career record at IU under .500, erasing his phenomenal feat of becoming the first Hoosiers football coach since Bo McMillan (1934-47) to have a winning record.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Salary: $7 million

Record at Iowa: 178-110

Verdict: Just right

You could make the argument that Ferentz was underpaid in the grand scheme of things prior to this offseason, but that was rectified with a new deal from Iowa in January. He’s now scheduled to coach there through the end of the decade, which would mark the 50th anniversary of the Hawkeyes hiring Hayden Fry.

Though his conservatism on offense can be frustrating — especially with his son being the coordinator —  most programs would gladly trade excitement for Iowa’s stability.

Mike Locksley, Maryland

Salary: $2.53 million

Record at Maryland: 13-23

Verdict: Just right

Locksley draws the lowest salary in the Big Ten, and given his record, it is easy to understand why that’s the case. But if he can build on this year’s 7-6 finish, a raise is certainly in order.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Salary: $7.3 million

Record at Michigan: 61-24

Verdict: Overpaid

Sports Betting in Big Ten Country

There is big news coming to the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and NFL season). Ohio online sports betting will be officially launching on January 1, 2023. Ohio will join other Big Ten states where sports betting has become legalized such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and more.

I don’t anticipate it will remain the case for much longer, but at the moment Harbaugh makes more money than Georgia’s Kirby Smart. If you don’t understand why that’s silly, feel free to re-watch the Orange Bowl.

On the other side of the coin, Harbaugh only being the 4th-highest paid coach in the B1G feels like a bit of a lowball. So if you’re viewing it from that lens, it’s possible to make the argument he’s underpaid.

Mel Tucker, Michigan State

Salary: $9.5 million per year

Record at Michigan State: 13-7

Verdict: Overpaid

Tucker makes as much as Brian Kelly (LSU) and less than Nick Saban (Alabama) and Lincoln Riley (USC). And that’s the list of people taking home as much or more pay in college football.

Which, given Tucker’s actual accomplishments, is preposterous. He has 1 winning season as a head coach.

Granted, Saban is the reason Tucker is making this money. As in, Michigan State did not want to see a repeat of Saban leaving for the SEC and turning another program into a national power.

Given Michigan State’s trajectory from Year 1 to Year 2 of Tucker’s tenure, he certainly could prove worth the investment. I’d even say it’s more likely than not. But even seemingly sure bets don’t always pay out. And this still qualifies as a gamble by Michigan State.

PJ Fleck, Minnesota

Salary: $5 million

Record at Minnesota: 35-23

Verdict: Underpaid

Our first coach on the list to grab the “underpaid” mantle.

The last Minnesota coach to make it through at least 4 seasons with a winning percentage above .600? Bernie Bierman, who won 5 national championships and retired in 1950.

A Big Ten championship game appearance remains the still-elusive goal for the Golden Gophers, though it does seem likely they would have made it there last season if not for a rash of running back injuries.

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Salary: $4 million

Record at Nebraska: 15-29

Verdict: Just right

It was once unthinkable that the coach at Nebraska would be making the same money as the coach at Iowa State, but that’s where Frost is at after taking a pay cut for another shot at turning the Huskers into winners.

Frost has the worst winning percentage of any Cornhusker coach since Bill Jennings (1957-61), but his salary reduction makes the cost of keeping him for another season palatable.

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Salary: $5.7 million

Record at Northwestern: 109-90

Verdict: Just right

This is the toughest job in the Big Ten, and the fact Fitzgerald has a winning record at Northwestern is proof that he’s doing it well. Ara Parseghian is most recent Northwestern coach to finish above .500 in Evanston, and he left for Notre Dame in 1963.

Ryan Day, Ohio State

Salary: $7.6 million

Record at Ohio State: 34-4

Verdict: Just right

The contract extension Day signed in 2020 included a nice $900,000 boost from what he made in 2021, and that brings him to a pretty appropriate figure for the Big Ten market in 2022.

As is always the case when a coach takes over for a legend, critics are able to say he’s won with his predecessor’s guys. But heading into Year 4, it’s pretty much all Day’s guys at this point. If the Buckeyes win another Big Ten title, he’ll be due a raise.

James Franklin, Penn State

Salary: $7.5 million

Record at Penn State: 67-34

Verdict: Overpaid

Franklin’s old salary of $5.5 million was somewhere between underpaid and just right, but Penn State decided to grant him a major raise and 10-year contract extension despite back-to-back underwhelming seasons.

He may prove worth it if the Nittany Lions bounce back in 2022, but at the moment this deal raises eyebrows.

Jeff Brohm, Purdue

Salary: $4.8 million

Record at Purdue: 28-29

Verdict: Just right

It’s been a wild ride for Brohm, who appeared to have the Boilermakers building ahead of schedule his first 2 seasons only to regress to losing records in the next 2 seasons. It finally came together in 2021 with an 8-4 regular season and a dramatic Music City Bowl win.

If the Boilers win the West in 2022, he’ll be due a raise.

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

Salary: $4 million

Record at Rutgers: 76-81

Verdict: Just right

A slight overpay on face value, but Schiano is deserving of extra compensation for how he reinvented the Rutgers program from 2001-11.

The Scarlet Knights aren’t ready to be competitive in the Big Ten yet, but with a nice signing class coming in, Schiano might be planting the seeds of his next Rutgers turnaround.

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

Salary: $5.25 million

Record at Wisconsin: 65-23

Verdict: Underpaid

Thanks to a $900,000 raise from 2021, Chryst moves from wildly underpaid to just slightly underpaid.

Chryst has accomplished a heck of a lot more than most of the guys making more money than he is, winning the West 3 times and twice being named the Big Ten coach of the year. It certainly feels like he should be getting paid on par with Fitzgerald. But at least Wisconsin finally realized Chryst shouldn’t be making less than Allen or Brohm.