13. Bruce Pearl, Auburn
Salary: $3,840,366 | Buyout: $10.06 million
When Bruce Pearl got his first tasted of college basketball coaching, he started with the big boys. He held positions with Stanford and Iowa as an assistant from 1982-92 before getting his first head coaching job with Division-II Southern Indiana. With the Screaming Eagles, he was highly successful, going 231-46 and winning a D-II National Championship.
Due to a shady false accusation during his time as an assistant at Iowa, though, Pearl was believed to be blackballed from college coaching opportunities for quite some time. However, he got the job with the Milwaukee Panthers in 2001. He continued to acquit himself well as he went 86-38 over four years, including a school-record 26-6 season in 2004-05 and a trip to the Sweet 16.
After that season, Pearl was hired at Tennessee where he spent six years. He was successful with the Volunteers as well as he made the NCAA Tournament every year and to three Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight while going 145-61. However, as more NCAA allegations followed him, he unceremoniously left the program. He had to wait three years before getting another call, this time from a down Auburn program.
Pearl has kept on showing everyone he’s an elite head coach while with the Tigers. While they went only 44-54 over his first three seasons, they’ve won 81 games over the past three seasons, including 30 games in the 2018-19 campaign, which concluded with a trip to the Final Four. There have always been clouds over Pearl’s career but his prowess with the clipboard is undeniable.