Before Penn State University fired Joe Paterno as head coach of the football team, he was widely regarded as wielding heavy influence in the Penn State community, where football was king. Until this week, he was the winningest coach in NCAA history. For this, he was making $1,022,794 in his role as coach.

He wasn't, however, close to being the highest paid college football coach in the country -- not by a long shot.

Paterno ranked near the middle, compared to coaches around the country at colleges with major football programs. Among the Big Ten, Penn State's conference, he was second to last.

USA Today found college football coaches were compensated $1.47 million on average in 2011. Even as public universities have taken major hits in state funding, the average pay grew 55 percent in six seasons, from $950,000 in 2006.

About one-quarter of the 82 public schools that retained their coaches after last season gave raises of $200,000 or more; some of those raises were built into contracts that remained unchanged. However, nine schools provided boosts of $500,000 or more to incumbent coaches via new, or amended, contracts.

Very few of FBS athletics departments were able to pay all their bills without help from university or state funds or student fees, in 2010, according to USA Today.

Check out the 17 highest paid college football coaches in 2011:

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  • Mack Brown, University of Texas at Austin

    Total Pay: $5,193,500 Photo Credit: <a href="" target="_hplink">Andreanna</a>

  • Nick Saban, University of Alabama

    Total Pay: $4,833,333 Photo Credit: <a href="" target="_hplink">Atliad </a>

  • Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma

    Total Pay: $4,075,000 Photo Credit: <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr user Billy A</a>

  • Les Miles, Louisiana State University

    Total Pay: $3,856,417 Photo Credit:<a href="" target="_hplink"> JustDog</a>

  • Kirk Ferentz, University of Iowa

    Total Pay: $3,785,000

  • Bobby Petrino, University of Arkansas

    Total Pay: $3,638,000

  • Gene Chizik, Auburn University

    Total Pay: $3,500,000

  • Brady Hoke, University of Michigan

    Total Pay: $3,254,000 Photo Credit: <a href="" target="_hplink">Missy Caulk</a>

  • Will Muschamp, University of Florida

    Total Pay: $3,221,000 Photo Credit: <a href=",_UF_Spring_Game,_2011.jpg" target="_hplink">Benjamin Blue</a>

  • Mark Richt, University of Georgia

    Total Pay: $2,939,800

  • Steve Spurrier, University of South Carolina

    Total Pay: $2,828,000

  • Chip Kelly, University of Oregon

    Total Pay: $2,800,000

  • Bo Pelini, University of Nebraska

    Total Pay: $2,775,000

  • Houston Nutt, University of Mississippi

    Total Pay: $2,771,750

  • Jimbo Fisher, Florida State University

    Total Pay: $2,750,000

  • Gary Pinkel, University of Missouri

    Total Pay: $2,700,000

  • Bret Bielema, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Total Pay: $2,598,186

This slideshow is based on USA Today's "Total Pay" tab. According to the USA Today, the total pay includes "base salary; income from contract provisions other than base salary that are paid, or guaranteed, by the university or affiliated organizations, such as a foundation," and "income from sources listed on the coach's most recently available, self-reported athletically related outside income report." Some schools require this to be disclosed, others do not.