5. Chris Beard, Texas Tech
Salary: $4.443 million | Buyout: $19,111,155
The 47-year-old Chris Beard has enjoyed a winding road throughout his coaching career. While he was an associate head coach at Texas Tech for 10 years after stints at a community college and junior college, Beard ‘s first head coaching job was in the ABA before heading to Division-III McMurry and then Division-II Angelo State. After going 47-15 in two years there, his first D-I offer came from Arkansas-Little Rock.
Beard immediately proved his merits with the Trojans, leading them to a 30-5 season that earned them at No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They then upset Purdue, which led to Beard being a hot commodity for openings around the country. While Beard first agreed to become the next UNLV head coach, the Red Raiders came calling about two weeks after the first job was accepted and Beard chose to head to Lubbock instead.
Texas Tech went just 18-14 in Beard’s first season with the program but he wasted little time starting to take the Red Raiders to the highest heights in program history. Not only did the team go 27-10 and tie for second in the Big 12 in the 2017-18 season but they then went on a run to the Elite Eight in March Madness as well.
The following season, Beard built on that success. In the 2018-19 campaign, Texas Tech won a school-record 31 games (31-7 overall) and tied for first in the Big 12. More importantly, Beard led the Red Raiders to the National Championship Game, where they came up just short against Virginia.
Though the Red Raiders experienced a dropoff in the 2019-20 season, going 18-13, they still tied for third in the Big 12 and Beard clearly has instilled a strong infrastructure in Lubbock. He should only prove to be worth a top-five paid head coach in the sport.