The 2017 Coach Salary report was released last week, and it had some interesting nuggets of information, as it generally does. Many Big 12 fans and reporters focused on the fact that TCU’s Gary Patterson leads the conference in wins but trails in $$$:
Tom Herman at almost $5.5M is highest-paid coach in Big 12. Ball's in your court, TCU.— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) October 25, 2017
... but we all know that as a private institution, the Frogs do not have to release actual figures. I have a feeling GP is doing just fine.
But other universities might not feel quite so good about their salary situation, whether they think their coach is underpaid, overpaid, or impossible to get rid of. We decided to take a deep dive into some of these scenarios, and see who has serious regrets about their head honcho, rating them on a regret-ability index based off of Charlie Weises. Because of course. The scale is from five Charlies (WYD) to one Charlie (could be worse). Let’s start with the most regrettable decisions.
Jim McElwain (
Florida FIRED): DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! This contract was oh so very bad, and the Gators will now literally be paying for their bad decision. I am not sure what was worse: McElwain’s almost $4.5 million annual fee, the nearly $13 million buyout, the fact he was canned seven games into a 3-4 campaign after winning the SEC East in his first two years, or (supposedly) boinking a shark. Oh, and let’s not forget about the odd death threat press conference and the fact that Florida is trying to weasel their way out of a bad contract using a ‘with cause’ firing. What a mess.
Rich Rodriguez (Arizona): This has to be the second most shocking figure on the list, as Rich Rod turned middling campaigns at WVU and Michigan into six millions dollars annually with a six million dollar buyout. Rodriguez was actually pretty good at WVU, but plummeted at UM, going 15-22 in three years there. He translated that overwhelming success into a fat paycheck from the Wildcats, and has blown the doors off the competition to the tune of a 41-31 record and one Pac 12 title. Congrats, Zona, you played yourself.
Bret Bielema (Arkansas): Bert has a reasonable buyout at just under six million dollars, but the Razorbacks are paying their lead dog $4,245,000 annually to win 7-8 games, in a good year. The former Wisconsin coach has never finished higher than third in the SEC West, can’t beat the shell of Texas A&M, is 27-31 overall in Fayetteville and just 10-26 in conference play. The Hogs have a beautiful campus, great facilities, and access to rich recruiting grounds in Texas and Louisiana. And yet.
Butch Jones (Tennessee): Ol Butch is pulling in four million plus annually with a buyout of over eight million, all in exchange for 14 SEC wins and an 0-4 conference start in 2017. There might not be a more disappointing Power Five team in the country, as the Vols have a rich history, a fertile recruiting ground, and have generally signed highly rated classes. Jones is almost assuredly gone at this point, and it will cost Tennessee a pretty penny to shove him out the door.
Jeff Brohm (Purdue): It’s patently unfair to judge Brohm by a single season, but one look at Brohm’s hefty paycheck ($3,333,333) and obscene buyout ($15,844,544) should leave fans shaking their heads. Add in the fact that Purdue’s facilities are so outdated that the parents of injured Michigan QB Wilton Speight went on the record to put them on blast:
“[We] waited 20 minutes for the rescue squad team,” he said. “At that point, Wilton says he has tingling in his legs and is in substantial pain. The EMT riding in the back of the ambulance asks us if we need an IV or vital monitoring and [the Michigan doctor] replied, ‘No, but we need him stable and immobile. This is a back injury.’ We stop at a light, and the Michigan doctor asks how long is it going to take, and (the EMT) said 30 to 45 minutes on game day.
“Our doctor asked him, ‘Couldn’t we please turn on the siren and make better time?’ And (the rescue squad member) said, ‘Don’t you get smart with me. You said this is a non-vital trip.’ Our doctor said, ‘I don’t care what I told you, this boy has tingling in his legs. Turn the siren on and go.’ I about wanted to blow a gasket on this guy.”
Brohm is 3-4 in his inaugural season, and his team has been pretty competitive. But it certainly appears some of that money would be better spent elsewhere.
Larry Fedora (North Carolina): Uhh, what happened, Tar Heels? UNC looks absolutely inept post-Trubisky, falling to 1-7 with little hope for the immediate future. Fedora, who has had all of one ten win season and one division title might not be long for Chapel Hill, but the Heels will have to pony up a fat $14.705 million to rid themselves of coach good body. Usually a hot name to move in the off-season, I am sure UNC is hoping someone comes calling for their overpaid head coach, who has a 41-32 record.
Lovie Smith (Illinois): Another first year coach unfairly in the crosshairs, but the Illini have lost five straight, four by double digits, and haven’t beaten anything close to resembling a P5 school in Lovie’s first season in Champaign. The Pro pedigree doesn’t always translate to the college game, and it appears that might be the case for Smith, who has a $16.5 million buyout if that is indeed the case. Let’s give Lovie a little time, but woof, if he doesn’t make it past 2018, that’s going to sting.
Mark Stoops (Kentucky): It appears that the Cats are moving on up, as 5-2 Kentucky is taking advantage of a god-awful SEC East to put together their second consecutive winning season. But, does a 24-32 lifetime record, one second place finish in your division, and one bowl game (a loss) deserve a buyout of almost fifteen million dollars, putting you in the top 15 of any coach in the country? Naw, fam. Naw. On top of that, he’s close to the four million dollar a year mark for salary, so it appears the Wildcats aren’t getting a good ROI.
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan): Coach Khaki Pants is making more than any coach in college football not named Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney, at an obscene $7,004,000 (way to get that extra 4K, Jimbo) with a buyout figure over 20,000,000. For all that, Big Blue is 25-8 with no higher than a third place finish in the Big Ten Eastern Division, one Citrus Bowl win, and multiple sloppy second quarterbacks. For comparison’s sake, Brady Hoke was 19-7 in his first two years, finishing second in both, and won a Sugar Bowl. Oh, and he could make another 1.3 million in bonuses... if he ever hits those achievement marks.
Gary Patterson (TCU): GP has come within a whiff of the playoffs once, won titles in three different conferences, and nearly single-handedly resurrected the Horned Frogs from the dead in his 18 years in Fort Worth. He awoke a sleeping giant, taking the once moribund program to three NY6 bowls, a power five conference, and setting the all-time wins record with 156 (against just 54 losses) in the process. Gary Patterson is the face of TCU Football, and will be for as long as he wants to. And he does it all at the relative bargain rate of $5,000,000 annually, good for the ninth best rate in the country (though we all know he probably makes far more than that).
Dabo Swinney (Clemson): The Tigers have been dominant recently, including last year’s national championship run. But it isn’t just the single title that has put Dabo in the No Ragrets club, it’s the six bowl wins, two playoff appearances, three conference titles, and 58-16 ACC record. Dabo is raking in the dough at am 8.5 million a year clip, and has the most ridiculous buyout of any coach listed at 40 million dollars. When Dabo wants to walk he will walk, and Clemson better hope it’s of his own volition.
Nick Saban (Alabama): Saban is far and away the highest paid coach on the list, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Nicky makes a whopping 11 million plus annually, with a max bonus of 700K and a buyout of nearly 27 million. But, for their troubles, the state of Alabama has been awarded four national championships in five appearances, a 122-19 overall record, and complete and utter domination of the College Football landscape, from recruiting, to coaching tree, to on the field play. I would say that’s a good return on investment.