It’s something of a controversial topic, but I pretty much understand why college football coaches are paid what they are, as they coach athletes who are not paid money. I think it would be better for college football if it were limited in some way, but the big fish don’t want that and they get what they want. And so teams outbid one another for the best and most desirable coaches, and that makes complete sense to me.

Where I do find myself baffled, though, is when schools seem to pay coaches a lot of money because… well, for no reason that I can discern. Tennessee’s coach Butch Jones, for example, is a part of the four million dollar club. Jones isn’t a bad coach, but it wasn’t like anyone else was beating down their door to hire him. Nor did it especially look like he was thinking of retiring or taking some time off and so they had to pay him more to keep him going. Nor does it seem likely that they would not be able to replace him if he did go. But they paid him the money… just because, as near as I can tell.

Another example is in South Carolina. South Carolina had reached an arrangement with Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez that was quite generous. But Rodriguez had a job where he seemed reasonably satisfied that paid him well. He had been fielding other offers. He failed at Michigan, but succeeded at both West Virginia and Arizona. He was something of a hot commodity. Three million dollars doesn’t seem out of line. At the last minute, though, Rodriguez decided that he wanted to stay in Tucson. Hey, it happens. South Carolina immediately hired Auburn defensive coordinator and former Florida coach Will Muschamp.

What really surprises me is that they offered him the exact same deal they’d offered to Rodriguez. Unlike Rodriguez, Muschamp did not have a sitting head coaching job that he needed to be pried away from. Nor had he been mentioned for other openings. He did not succeed at the only head coaching job he’s ever had. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a bad choice, but it does seem to me that giving him the opportunity at another chance at being a head coach in the SEC is a form of compensation in and of itself. They’re taking a chance on him in a way that they weren’t with Rodriguez. There is no real reason that they should be paid the same. The three million dollars paid for, in part, the idea that Rodriguez was a reasonably safe hire (as far as such hires go).

Southern Tech did this as well, a hire or two back. It was an internal hire, which is fine. It was someone that hadn’t really been on anybody’s radar, though, which was questionable. But one of the thoughts I had when we hired him was “Well, at least we should be able to get by paying him less so that he can hire better assistants. Nope! We paid him about 10% less than the successful outgoing coach. He ended up hiring assistants on the cheap, and we got what we paid for.


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