Thirty five head coaches made more money than Paul Chryst in 2017. Seven of them were fired, and two of them changed schools and got significant raises. Only 15 finished with a spot in the Associated Press poll while just four earned New Year’s Six bowl victories.

Chryst was one of those coaches. And while Scott Frost’s perfect season got the national attention, it was Chryst who led the only 12-0 start from a Power 5 program.

A couple weeks ago, Chryst got his extension approved. He was set to make $3.3 million in 2018, with annual raises of $100,000 until his contract runs through 2023.

With Frost set to make $5 million annually at Nebraska, Chryst will barely crack the top 10 for salaries among B1G coaches in 2018. He’ll make nowhere near what Jim Harbaugh makes despite the fact that in the three seasons since both joined the conference, Chryst is 34-7 while Harbaugh is 28-11.

But this isn’t about Chryst compared to Harbaugh. The more interesting discussion is how big of a bargain Chryst really is.

In this era of bloated coaching salaries, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bargain.

Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

If Chryst really is the best bargain in the sport, the numbers will show it. For the sake of this argument, let’s keep it to just Power 5 coaches. Not that there’s not tremendous value in Group of 5 coaches, but the money to gain is a little different when we’re talking about financing and operating a Power 5 program.

So to judge that, let’s look at dollars per win the last two seasons. After all, this is a “what have you done for me lately” business. Take a look at the coaches with the most total wins the last two years:

  • Nick Saban, Alabama — 27
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson — 26
  • Chryst, Wisconsin — 24
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State — 23
  • James Franklin, Penn State — 22
  • Chris Petersen, Washington — 22
  • Clay Helton, USC — 21
  • Kirby Smart, Georgia — 21

That’s right. Saban and Swinney are the only coaches in America who had more wins than Chryst the last two years. And while obviously not all wins are created equal, Chryst certainly is worth more than 38 percent of Swinney’s 2017 salary and 29 percent of Saban’s 2017 salary.

For this argument, let’s stick to those eight coaches and find their dollars/per win the last two years. I know that’s a very Darren Rovell stat, but it puts some things in perspective (salaries via USA Today).

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Starting to get the picture now?

Chryst was essentially the best bargain in college football the last two years. By the way, he earned B1G Coach of the Year honors in both of those seasons. For some, that would be all the leverage in the world to negotiate a much richer contract. Instead, Chryst is reportedly set to make $100,000 more than he did last year.

Others in that aforementioned group already earned wealthy extensions. Franklin signed a new deal before the 2017 season that will pay him $5.74 million annually while Petersen also got an extension that will pay him just shy of $5 million annually. Even Swinney signed a deal before 2017 that bumped his annual pay from $4.42 million to $6.75 million annually (not including a $1.5 million signing bonus).

Meyer is set to agree to a 2-year extension, though the terms of that deal haven’t been finalized yet. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ohio State coach made somewhere in the ballpark of the $8 million annually that Swinney earned in 2017.

The other assumption is that Smart will make far more than the $3.753,000 that he made in 2017 (before his postseason bonuses). After taking Georgia to its first national championship game in nearly four decades, Smart’s hefty raise and extension is inevitable. One could certainly argue that he was college football’s best bargain in 2017, but that likely won’t be the case in 2018.

That title will belong to Chryst, who will again make less than the average annual salary for a Power 5 coach. Yet it’s Chryst who’s the only coach not named “Nick Saban” who will enter 2018 coming off consecutive New Year’s Six bowl victories. And again, Chryst’s squad will begin the season as a top-10 team in the Associated Press poll (I had Wisconsin starting at No. 4) with a serious chance to make the Playoff.

Even if Chryst has a down year and only wins 10 games — that’s really considered a down year in Madison these days — his dollars per win will still be $330,000, which is still less than every aforementioned elite coach based on the 2016-17 scale.

But Chryst is no discount coach. After three years at Wisconsin, he already proved that he’s one of the heavy hitters in the sport. He and his program will still not get the national respect it deserves while he cranks out top-10 finishes.

Chryst is worth every penny he makes. And much, much more.