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Let's Discuss the Million Dollar Strength Coach Salary

Hewitt Tomlin
Aug 11, 2022

2022 had big news for strength coach salaries: The first $1-million dollar salary was announced and it wouldn’t take a genius to guess that it was done for an FBS football strength coach. In this case, it was Oklahoma State’s Rob Glass with the honorary raise of over $200,000 per year in a 5-year contract. For reference, the typical college strength and conditioning coach salary ranges between $29,000 and $81,000 per season with the amounts being presumably higher for football and basketball S&C coaches.

We have spoken about FBS football salaries on this blog in the past. The original take was that staggering increases in football strength coach pay would help “raise all boats” for strength coaches. I later walked back that claim in this article explaining that football strength and conditioning at the collegiate level may as well be an entirely different career choice altogether. It's really not even in the same ballpark as other collegiate sports (with the caveat that basketball floats somewhere in between).


Why is that though? College football is a popular sport among TV viewers, fans, boosters, and donors. But most notably, TV contracts - catering to large national audiences - provide large amounts of money to football conferences for broadcasting rights.

But why exactly are football strength coaches seeing a recent spike in pay relative to the past few decades? The strength coach profession within college football is very young. The first collegiate football game was played in 1869. But the first college strength coach, Boyd Epley, was hired in 1969. College football was around long before strength coaches arrived on the scene.

Employer Means

The number one reason a coach like Rob Glass can make $1 million per year in salary is because his employer can afford to pay that. There is no greater factor than that.

This is not to take away from Coach Glass as a practitioner. His career speaks for itself: multiple decades of experience, extended tenure in a highly-competitive environment, and relative consistent success by fielding a team that stays fairly competitive year after year.

But Coach Glass is not the only one. There are other coaches with similar experience, tenure, and results. The difference is they do not work for an employer with the means to get an equivalent salary. The FBS football strength coach salaries will only get higher from here as they have the last ten years, but it will be correlated with the monetary success of their athletic programs. I do not believe you will see a program with a financial downturn (Eg: crippling NCAA sanctions) decide that the strength coach must be paid relative to their worth - they will be paid what their new budget can afford.

The hardest part to add here, is that compensation by-and-large for collegiate football coaches is not directly tied to the quality of the strength coaches relative to their peers. In fact, the opposite may be true. The majority of training-related injury and deaths have taken place in college football, unfortunately. College football was also the only sport to make an exception to the rule that all strength coaches on staff hold a CSCS certification so that head coaches could hire whoever they wanted to lead the strength staff. 

It Pays to Stay - or Follow

Another considerable factor for large paydays is a coach’s tenure which has shown to deliver a better chance to land consistent raises with new contracts. As the saying goes, “the best way to get a job is to already have a job.” In other words, coaches seeking new opportunities do not have the same leverage as employed coaches with a contract deadline. Another common route to scoring a large salary to follow the head coach to larger opportunities as would make sense. Success opens the door to opportunity.

In the FBS world, turnover is becoming more volatile - both as tenure gets shorter and as competitive programs poach up-and-coming coaches. Having a long tenure at the FBS level is becoming a harder and harder feat, but the “support” staff’s tenure is often tied to the on-field results and thus the head coach’s and athletes' performance - only one of which can be impacted by the strength staff. 


As I mentioned the last time I wrote on FBS football salaries:

“I just don't think today's salaries are a correct indicator of compensation. These big payouts are a function of brand-name programs, television contracts, and successful football programs.

If you're a strength coach making $80k per year, do you think you are 10x worse of a strength coach than the highest-paid coach? Maybe you are, but if you took that person's job for one year I don't think you will make the team 10x worse, or weaker, or disorganized, or undisciplined, or injury prone (maybe a little of all that though - maybe not).”

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