There seem to be two main ways that college football fans tend to debate the worth of their program with rival fanbases:
- Wins and losses (particularly head-to-head).
- Success of former players in the NFL.
The latter argument is usually brought up when the former argument fails, because what is the point of college football but to put players in the NFL? (Obviously for many players and fans, the point of college football is in fact college football).
How to best judge alums in the NFL is another question altogether.
Is it the number of players in the NFL matters most? Or perhaps the caliber of player (aka Pro Bowls)? Or is it overall team success?
All are valid, but there is another way to determine which program is having the most NFL success — current salaries of alums.
And according to Spotrac, between the three FBS programs in Utah — the Utah Utes, BYU Cougars and Utah State Aggies — the highest cumulative salaries belong to the Utes.
At $77,851,694, Utah alums in the NFL make more than $20 million more this season than BYU alums ($51,272,038), who make nearly $30 million more than Aggie alums.
The Aggies (7) actually have the highest average salary at over $4.2 million a player, compared to $3.9 million for the Utes (20) and $3.4 million for the Cougars (15).
Leading the way on an individual basis is former Utah wide receiver Marcus Williams at $16,000,000 for the 2023 season. Former Utah offensive lineman Garett Bolles is the second highest earner at $14,000,000, followed by former BYU star Fred Warner is making $13,525,000 this season.
The highest earning Aggie this season, meanwhile, is former quarterback Jordan Love at $9,798,655.
The highest career earner — of those still in the NFL — is former Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has made $92,008,441 million over the course of his career and is making $5.5 million this season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Of note, the highest current earner among FCS alums in the NFL (meaning Weber State and Southern Utah) is former Wildcats cornerback Taron Johnson, who is making $6.75 million this season.