Salary: $3.1 million Record: 58-24 (six seasons). To be fair to practically every coach on this list, the extravagant salary numbers are merely a sign of the times in big-time collegiate athletics. As Drexel University professor Ellen Staurowsky testified in the ongoing Ed O'Bannon class-action trial, college football coaching salaries have rose 650 percent from 1985 to 2010. This is occasionally the byproduct: underperforming or mediocre track records on huge salaries. Not everyone can succeed at the highest level. Pelini, for example, has a fine overall record for the powerhouse Huskers, but he's yet to lead the program to a "BCS" bowl in six seasons on the sidelines. He'll need to do a bit more with the one-year extension (through 2018 now) he received back in March.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY SportsBruce Thorson
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Salary: $3.2 million Record: 36-28 (three seasons). Again, Mullen falls onto the list of coaches doing just fine, all things considered. It's extremely difficult to win consistent in the SEC -- not to mention when you're trying to bring top-tier recruits into Starkville, perhaps the most difficult place to recruit in the conference. He's done quite well at keeping the Bulldogs relevant and bowl eligible year after year. Still, considering Mississippi State's middle-of-the-pack athletic budget, paying $3.2 million for a program that has hit its high-water mark with two Gator Bowl trips is a little steep.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY SportsJustin Ford
Will Muschamp, Florida
Salary: $3 million Record: 22-16 (three seasons). It's not easy to follow in the footsteps of Urban Meyer and his offensive wizardry. Muschamp is another product of an athletic department throwing around a huge operating budget, and while his time in Gainesville has not been nearly as successful as his predecessor's, it hasn't been all bad. There have been a rash of injuries to key players and the offense has more or less been a trainwreck, but Muschamp's team finished the 2012 regular season as arguably the top team in the country -- an eight-point loss to rival Georgia keeping the Gators out of the SEC and national title games. Still, that .578 win percentage needs to quickly improve.
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY SportsRob Foldy
Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Salary: $3.2 million Record: 9-4 (one season). While Tuberville technically falls into the Bielema-Jones-Strong category as big-name coaches still operating within the two-year grace period on this list, it's still a bit jarring to see Cincinnati, by no means a nine-figure type of athletic department, forking out this kind of money for the former SEC and Big 12 coach. Tuberville's 139 career wins and success at Auburn -- winning four SEC West titles and vying for the 2004 national title with a 13-0 Tigers team -- speak for themselves, but he wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire when the Bearcats pulled him out of Texas Tech. He's got his work cut out for him to lead the program to back-to-back BCS games like his predecessor Brian Kelly did in '09 and '10.
Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY SportsRobert Leifheit
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Salary: $2.7 million Record: 47-32 (six seasons). The first of three ACC coaches (or former ACC coaches) on our list, the triple-option guru is yet another name that deserves his share of credit: it's not easy to win at academic institutions like Georgia Tech and six consecutive bowl appearances isn't too bad -- regardless of the five losses in those games. Johnson's program has been trending down in recent seasons, though, going 28-25 since the team's Orange Bowl trip in 2009 and basically looking like a mediocre program in a mediocre division.
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SportsDaniel Shirey
Brady Hoke, Michigan
Salary: $4.3 million Record: 26-13 (four seasons). The Michigan athletic department's total revenue annually ranks in the top-10 nationally, raking into more than $140 million annually according to the latest USA TODAY data. So it comes as zero surprise that the coach of the school's top revenue-generating sport is being compensated handsomely. Hoke got off to a great start in Ann Arbor (11-2, Sugar Bowl win), but things have gone downhill ever since. He's 15-11 in his past two seasons and with archrival Ohio State employing Urban Meyer at a similar rate but with many, many more wins, the pressure is on Hoke to turn things around. His Michigan resume doesn't warrant a top-15 payday; fortunately for Hoke, that doesn't matter as long as he's coaching at the Big House.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Randy Edsall, Maryland
Salary: $2.25 million Record: 13-24 (three seasons). Edsall capitalized on his 12-year turnaround of the Connecticut program by taking on the Maryland job in a bigger conference for a bigger paycheck. Of course, with the Terps moving into an even bigger conference next season (Big 10), the spotlight on Edsall is brighter than ever. Maryland has improved every season under Edsall, but they haven't garnered much national attention outside of some funky Under Armour uniforms and he certainly hasn't matched Ralph Friedgen's success. With Maryland taking a step forward with the Big 10's revenue sharing, this job will only become more valuable. Military Bowl losses (or wins) won't cut it.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY SportsMark L. Baer
Mike London, Virginia
Salary: $2.6 million Record: 18-31 (four seasons). London has never had a problem bringing talent to Charlottesville. The 53-year-old coach boasts a top-five recruiting class in the ACC practically every year, but the wins have rarely followed. London posted losing seasons in 2010, 2012 and 2013 -- breaking up that stretch with an 8-5 record that led the Cavaliers to a Chick-fil-A Bowl loss. He's also failed to snap rival Virginia Tech's ongoing 10-game win streak. Virginia's athletic department has plenty of money to work with, but another campaign like the 2013 version (2-10 record) and it'll spend it elsewhere.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY SportsBob Donnan
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Salary: $4 million Record: 108-79 (15 seasons). You might be surprised to know that Iowa's athletic department came in at No. 11 in total revenue nationally, according to USA TODAY, so the Hawkeyes can certainly afford one of the sport's top coaches. The question is: Do they employ one? Ferentz certainly has the longevity angle covered in Iowa City -- he's been calling for the punt team on 4-and-1 from an opponent's 35-yard line since 1999. As the record above shows, he's found some success too, posting four 10-win seasons. However, the Hawkeyes are 27-24 since their 2009 Orange Bowl win and still playing a bland, often ineffective brand of football. Ferentz has been one of the highest-paid coaches around for years ... despite posting 10 seasons with five losses or more.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Charlie Weis, Kansas
Salary: $2.5 million Record: 4-20 (two seasons). Weis has guaranteed himself a spot on these lists since losing the Sugar Bowl with Notre Dame back in 2006. Since then, his teams at Notre Dame and Kansas have posted a combined 20-41 record -- with only four of those wins coming on the Jayhawks' sidelines. Per the theme of this list, Kansas' lucrative athletic department can afford the fee. All the same, he's leading one of the most incompetent programs in major college football despite being paid like a top-40 coach. Without a dramatic turnaround, though, it's not hard seeing him leading this list again in 2015 ... if he remains in the college head coaching ranks at all.