Chris Petersen, Jim McElwain highest wage earners in the Mountain West

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

There are three Mountain West coaches that make more than $1 million per year, and possibly a fourth if they earn bonuses.

USA Today released it's annual list of what college football coaches make, and yes it is a lot, and in the Mountain West there are three coaches who bring in over $1 million per year. One coach is very obvious in Boise State's Chris Petersen, but the other two may come as a shock. Those other two coaches are Wyoming's Dave Christensen and Colorado State's Jim McElwain.

Christensen has been at Wyoming for a few years with varying success, but McElwain is fairly new to the scene and was pried away from Alabama with a seven-figure salary.

As for what coach is worth the best value this season, that must go to Fresno State's Tim DeRuyter who is earning $655,000 this year. However, he can top out in bonuses with another $1.685 million and it is safe to say he probably will go most or all of that if his team wins a BCS bowl game. If DeRuyter gets that max bonus then he would make more than Petersen.

The average salary of the Mountain West coaches is $874,000, so no one is going broke. Nine of the 12 coaches are in the bottom of total salary minus possible bonus. It also should be noted that six of the Mountain West head coaches have just one or two years experience manning a program.

Here is the complete list:

Coach School pay Other pay Total pay Max bonus
Chris Petersen, Boise State $2,148,000 $3,500 $2,151,500 $290,000
Jim McElwain, Colorado State $1,350,000 --- $1,350,000 $150,000
Dave Christensen, Wyoming $1,200,000 --- $1,200,000 $25,000
Troy Calhoun, Air Force $882,000 $21,100 $903,100 $247,500
Rocky Long, San Diego State $800,000 --- $800,000 $855,000
Bob Davie, New Mexico $763,600 --- $763,600 $330,000
Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State $650,000 $5,000 $655,000 $1,685,000
Norm Chow, Hawaii $550,000 $70,000 $620,000 $880,000
Brian Polian, Nevada $525,000 --- $525,000 $250,000
Ron Caragher, San Jose State $525,000 --- $525,000 $195,000
Bobby Hauck, UNLV $500,000 $3,749 $503,749 $140,000
Matt Wells, Utah State $500,000 $2,500 $502,500 $735,000

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