When it comes to coaching $$, the SEC is just getting started

 

**–In January of 2007, Alabama hired Nick Saban as its head football coach for $32 million over eight years.

**–After winning the BCS national championship in January of 2008, LSU football coach Les Miles has his contract redrawn to  guarantee that he will be the highest paid football coach in the SEC. In 2008 Saban made $3.75 million. Miles contract called for him to make exactly $1,000 more. And that will remain the case during the life of Miles’ five-year contract.

**–In 2009 Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton pulled out his checkbook to give new head coach Lane Kiffin the all-star staff that he wanted. That staff, beginning with the over $1 million for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, will collectively earn an unprecedented $3.325 million this season.

**–Alabama just announced raises for its football staff that will pay them a total of $2.685 million this season. That doesn’t count Saban’s compensation, which will be bumped up to $3.9 million this season.

**–Kentucky just made John Calipari the highest paid coach in college basketball history with an eight-year deal for nearly $4 million per season. Potential bonuses and perks actually push that figure towards $5 million. That’s more than twice what the head football coach (Rich Brooks) at Kentucky makes.

**–Damon Evans, the athletics director at Georgia, is still trying to hire a men’s basketball coach. But he made it clear that for the right guy he was willing to pay $2 million per season. Down in Jacksonville Hugh Durham is shaking his head thinking he was born too soon.

So what’s going here? It’s really nothing very complicated at all. The 12 SEC members, thanks to their friends at ESPN and CBS, will have a lot more money to spend in the future. Last summer the conference signed unprecedented 15-year contracts with each network. In the next 15 years those contracts will pump about $3 billion into the SEC.

It’s clear now that the league is going to spend some of that money on acquiring and retaining the best coaches possible. This is nothing new for the SEC. There are just a lot more zeroes on the checks..

That’s good news for the coaches who benefit. It’s also good for the SEC institutions because it will be less likely that talented coaches will leave the conference because of money.

But it is a knife that cuts both ways. If schools have enough money to hire who they want, they also have enough money to fire at will without regard of the financial impact.  If he doesn’t win enough games, he’s gone. Whereas football coaches used to have a five-year window to get a struggling program turned around, that window will be, at best, three until the school decides to move on. Last season Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee) and Tommy Tuberville (Auburn) were both nudged out the door after long runs at their respective schools. They will collect a combined $11 million for not coaching. Neither school blinked at the thought of paying out those dollars. It is simply a cost of doing business in the 21st century.

And when that kind of money is involved, the expectations are enormous and sometimes unrealistic. People rail about the injustice of paying millions to coach ball at a time when faculty is getting laid off at many colleges and universities. We’ll certainly have another round of that with the Calipari numbers.

 But you know what?

Everybody knows that going in. Everybody is grown up here. You take the money, you live with the expectations. You give the money, you enforce the expectations. Nobody gets dragged kicking and screaming into this business.  My daddy once told me that “When the price of poker goes up, you don’t complain.  You either play or you fold.” Kentucky proved this week that schools in the SEC, thanks to their success on the field and on the court, have the resources to play.

Rick Bragg, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer, now teaches at the University of Alabama. He coined what I believe is the single best description of SEC football I’ve ever heard when he said that every conference game is “like a knife fight in a ditch.” He meant it affectionately.

When this kind of money is involved, the pressure gets ratcheted up on everybody. And it means that during every recruiting battle and every big conference game there will be helluva lot at stake.

I’m not saying that it’s good or it’s bad. It is what it is. But I am saying that next few years are going to be very, very interesting in this league.

 

97 comments Add your comment

Corrine Brown (D) FL

April 2nd, 2009
8:32 am

what does coarch urban meyers make?
go gator

Leland

April 2nd, 2009
8:42 am

Dear Mr. CF–tell Evans I’ll coach the basketball team for half what he’s aiming to pay somebody else, and throw in girl’s basketball for nothing. Let me know. Your pal, Leland

Spanky

April 2nd, 2009
8:42 am

SEC basketball is more like a pillow fight in a spare bedroom.

But seriously, with the money involved these days, the non-profit/tax exempt status of college football needs to be reassessed.

Donnie

April 2nd, 2009
8:49 am

Tony, how many more zeroes did the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put on your check to bring you back? Welcome back. Now how about some love to Georgia Southern every once in a while.

Kid Ray

April 2nd, 2009
8:50 am

College football programs, like fish, rot from the head down. The best way, really the only way to stay on top is to recruit and retain the top coaches. Period.

another great article TB. go Rutgers!

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
8:53 am

Corrine Brown (D) FL—-On behalf of the embarrassed alumni of the University of Florida, please, please, please never again associate your political career in the U.S. House of Representatives with your alma mater, the University of Florida. While we Gator alumni appreciate your demonstrated loyalty to the University, quite simply, your inability to string two grammatically correct sentences back to back makes you an inappropriate spokesman for an institution of higher learning. Never fear though, Corrine, because other Gator alumni will step forward to speak on behalf of the University, well, at least after the overwhelming laughter dies down.

For the record, Rep. Brown holds two academic degrees from Florida A & M University (B.A. in Sociology, M.A. in Education), and an education specialist’s degree from the University of Florida College of Education (Ed.S.). Rep. Brown represents the Third Congressional District of Florida, a northwest Florida minority-majority district created to satisfy the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

corrine brown (D) FL

April 2nd, 2009
8:55 am

He make more than Percy Harvey.

Go Gator.

m

April 2nd, 2009
8:56 am

sec football is the sports version of “my cuzzin is purtier than yore cuzzin.” It is powderpuff football with tobacco stains. can you say overrated…i knew you could.

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
8:57 am

Spanky—-True, the SEC did not distinguish itself among Division I basketball teams during the 2008-2009 season. However, let’s also keep in mind that an SEC team has won two of the last three championships . . . .

Gov Sonny Purdue

April 2nd, 2009
8:57 am

I hope no one believes anything in the new book about me and Michael Adams :)

bigdawg01

April 2nd, 2009
9:05 am

Go Gator…
That is absolutely priceless. I am sure her degrees were “honorary”

GeoffDawg

April 2nd, 2009
9:08 am

Very good points Tony – this is all about supply and demand and with a fat paycheck, comes higher expectations. I’ve grown tired of the hypocrites out there that tell you that coaching a game doesn’t make you entitled to a huge salary. That may be true if you’re coaching your daughter’s t-ball team and nobody outside of the players’ parents come to watch but when you’re responsible for a program which draws the interest of hundreds of thousands and generates many millions of dollars you deserve to be compensated as such with all the benefits and expectations that come with it. Can anyone other than a die-hard communist honestly say that if they were offered a $3 million salary, they wouldn’t take it?

[...] Tony Barnhart of the AJC writes that when it comes to coaching dollars, the SEC is just getting started. [...]

[...] Tony Barnhart of the AJC writes that when it comes to coaching dollars, the SEC is just getting started. [...]

BILLY JACK

April 2nd, 2009
9:28 am

HEY M-COUNT THE TEAMS IN THE TOP 25 AND NATIONAL TITLES THE LAST 10 YRS-THE SEC IS HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE EVERYBODY ELSE-BEFORE YOU MAKE STUPID COMMENTS GET EDUCATED-YOU DONT WANT TO SOUND LIKE REP CORINNE BROWN D FLORIDA.

Mark C.

April 2nd, 2009
9:33 am

Representative Brown owes me a new keyboard.

athensdawg

April 2nd, 2009
9:35 am

our corches are the most money of all the conferences we play in.

one too tree fo five…..
gators dont take no jive.

Bamafan

April 2nd, 2009
9:44 am

The university of Florida is in troubled waters if they don’t tell Ms Brown to go pull for the seminoles!!!
I am happy that the Kentucky Wildcats hired John Calipari as its new basketball coach. It will only make the SEC conference stronger and everybody else in the SEC will have to recruit better basketball players to stay even close to the wildcats. Atlanta Gator what do you think about Bama
hiring Grant as the new mens basketball coach!! GO BAMA ROLL TIDE!!

yohon

April 2nd, 2009
9:46 am

Bornhart you have your head so far up the collective butts of the SEC your writings are nothing but drivel. I understand we are in SEC country and maybe you are commissioned to write only about it but as sports go it is irrelevant. Broaden your scope. Trust me there are readers from other parts of the country (a LARGE number of us)that could careless.

gatorman770

April 2nd, 2009
9:49 am

Please ….no comments from readers that can’t even spell DOG correctly!

GeoffDawg

April 2nd, 2009
9:52 am

yohon – if you could care less, why are you reading a college football blog on an Atlanta news website? You do realize that this is the internet and you could just as easily go read the Detroit Free Press or the San Francisco Chronicle or whatever other publication which panders to your specific interest. There is a LARGE number that do care about college football and the SEC in particular. They’ve demonstrated time and time agani that they’re not only the preeminent football conference but the top overall sports conference which is why they draw so much attention. Go back to Tony’s points about supply and demand, they apply to this blog as well.

GeoffDawg

April 2nd, 2009
9:54 am

gatorman – that’s something given that that UF couldn’t even correctly identify a crocodile over and alligator on their media guide.

bukhed dawg

April 2nd, 2009
9:54 am

So if U of F is making all this money I guess they are really going to make some money this year. 8 home games and 3 of those are against patsies CS T and FIU. Hope that schedule keeps you out of the MNC game IF you end up undefeated. If you lose any game with that schedule you wont be in the MNC game. Alabama’s schedule isn’t much better so i guess if you schedule 3 patsies a year you can pad your wins – pathetic!!

Tim Tebow

April 2nd, 2009
9:56 am

I’ve descended from the heavens to bring manna to all ye coaches who enter the SEC. I am ‘The Tebow’, I am your lord and savior, I will bring peace to the Earth.

Love thee, love thy home of Gainesville, love the magnificent jeans shorts and mullet hairstyles that are prominent amongst my followers, I mean “supporters”.

Yes, thy Gayturd nation, I am Gayturd leader and do as I command – heel! I mean, HEAL!

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
9:59 am

Bamafan—-The University of Alabama’s hiring of Anthony Grant was a great move. But for Billy Donovan’s buyer’s remorse, Grant would now be coaching the Gators not the Tide. When Grant was up for the Gainesville job, Coach Donovan fully endorsed Grant to be Donovan’s replacement.

All in all, I would say the Tide did very well with the hire, and I do not understand why UGA did pursue Grant more aggressively . . . IMHO, UGA’s possible hiring of the Mizzou hoops coach was a long shot at best. I guess we will know whether the Damon Evans and the search committee are geniuses or amateurs in the next 2 or 3 weeks.

I have too many bad memories of Florida’s search to replace the Evil Genius in 2002 to take any pleasure in UGA’s travails.

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
10:01 am

Tim Tebow—How about applying some of your purported healing powers to Rep. Corrine Brown’s terminally broken grammar, syntax and enunciation? Then you could be a TRUE HERO to the Gator Nation!

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
10:05 am

bukhed dawg—-I made the same observation several weeks ago. Given the Gators’ weak out-of-conference schedule, they have no room for error if they hope to repeat as BCS champions. One loss, and they’re done.

President B. Obama

April 2nd, 2009
10:06 am

…not for long. There are to many mid-majors struggling. They need some HOPE.

Bryant

April 2nd, 2009
10:12 am

Man, I love the SEC.

bama12titles

April 2nd, 2009
10:17 am

Bukhead dawgs,

Care to revise your comment about Bama’s patsy schedule since Va Tech will probably be in the top 10 or at least probably the top 15 to start the season? Incidentally, we opened last year with Clemson which at the top started out ranked 9th nationally and we open our newly expanded stadium next year with Penn State which finished 12-2 last year I believe and was in the top 10 practically the whole year and for several weeks was in the top 5.

[...] Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at all of the milestone coaching deals cut in the SEC since January 2007… and the list is pretty long.Now, with huge money set to [...]

KYBulldog

April 2nd, 2009
10:26 am

Georgia goes from number one to about number twenty over the course of the season, but Richt proclaims the season a success. Adams throws money at Richt and his coaches who have done a poor job considering the talent level. In the meanwhile, Adams has cut faculty and his sponsor, Sonny the Stooge, has blocked pay raises for state teachers for two years. Things seem to be a little backward at UGA.

Jim Donnan

April 2nd, 2009
10:27 am

bukhed dawg, I can tell you’re a leg humper since you can’t count. UF does not have 8 home games. And we can’t help it that UGA, UT and FSU suck to weaken our schedule.

Jim Donnan

April 2nd, 2009
10:28 am

And ZTroy could beat the Leg Humpers.

GT

April 2nd, 2009
10:29 am

We always start these conversations off like it is back in the 30s and leather helmets are still being worn and slow small white guys from the fraternity houses are pretending to be football players. The coach was usually an ex player, too dumb to teach and too lazy to get a real job. Firing those guys was like firing the family maid after 40 years because you caught her drinking. We have romance their jobs because like a priest that was all they had. For every Knute Rochne there was a hundred flat nosed nobodies that were harmlessly living off the grace of the college or university that hired them. Now these guys instead of being hanger ons have turned this into a career a parent would be proud of. Some of the most successful have never walked onto a college field as a player and most were never any good that did, yet they make millions while the players go dry. Like Wall Street they hijacked your game.

bama12titles

April 2nd, 2009
10:30 am

Atlanta Gator,

Nice to see you on again. The midpoint of the college season is at hand with all the spring practices going on so we finally have something to talk about.

We’re excited about the Grant hire for a number of reasons. And I’m certain Corrine Brown be happy with the coarching hire for obliveous reasons.

I think the blogger posting as Corrine Brown may just be someone pulling our collective legs. I find it difficult to believe that someone whose grammar is that bad could actually learn how to use a computer.

In reference to Florida’s schedule I always give them a break as far as scheduling big time out of conference opponents due to the fact that they play FSU every year and lately had also picked up Miami a couple of times I believe.

But the college of Charleston game is a really bad deal. Its going to be utter humiliation for Charleston’s young men and is going to make UF look like a bunch of bullies. I think it will be embarrassing for both schools since I think the score will certainly get into the 60s or 70s and could well eclipse 80 pts. A better opponent would have been someone like a sunbelt or conference usa member. Anyway, good to see you on again and in the words of Corrine Brown go gator.

Jim Donnan

April 2nd, 2009
10:31 am

bama12titles, kind of like when Bama plays the crappy Louisiana schools and beats them so badly :)

Anonymous

April 2nd, 2009
10:32 am

KYBulldog, If I were you, I would seriously rethink your blog handle . . . it may be sending a signal that you did not intend.

Kiffinisatosser

April 2nd, 2009
10:38 am

All of this money directed to a single conference by ESPN does create a bit of a competitive balance problem. Yeah, you can’t buy a championship (especially when you are killing each other fraticidally all the time in conference play) but it makes the game a bit more like pro baseball and a bit less like an amateur undertaking. I don’t like George Steinbrenner and am uneasy that the SEC is becoming a bit like his Yankees.

Atlanta Gator

April 2nd, 2009
10:38 am

bama12*titles—-Likewise, sports fan.

I have heard, but have not been able to confirm, that Charleston Southern was a replacement for the University of South Florida. IMHO, if you must schedule a Division I-AA team, you should at least schedule a respectable one like Georgia Southern or Appalachian State . . . . Against Charleston Southern, if either first-string team plays more than a quarter, I will gladly join the chorus in flogging Urban Meyer for running up the score.

Regarding Corrine Brown . . . she be what she be. Yeah, go gator. LOL

bukhed dawg

April 2nd, 2009
10:42 am

Hey Jim Donnan you are correct lets see 7 home games and oh yeah the Georgia game in Jax – sorry thats not a home game now is it? Defend that schedule you D-A$$. Great slam on UGA Tenn and FSU. You know I actually pulled for FLA in the MNC but because of A$$holes like you I won’t again. Are you wearing your JORTS??

Sat Sep 5 Charleston Southern Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Sep 12 Troy Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Sep 19 Tennessee Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Sep 26 at Kentucky Lexington, KY TBA
Sat Oct 10 at LSU Baton Rouge, LA TBA
Sat Oct 17 Arkansas (HC) Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Oct 24 at Mississippi State Starkville, MS TBA
Sat Oct 31 Georgia Jacksonville, FL TBA
Sat Nov 7 Vanderbilt Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Nov 14 at South Carolina Columbia, SC TBA
Sat Nov 21 Florida International Gainesville, FL TBA
Sat Nov 28 Florida State Gainesville, FL TBA

Kiffinisatosser

April 2nd, 2009
10:42 am

GT you are correct in comparing this tendency to Wall Street. I guess ESPN putting its cash into the Bamas and Floridas of the world is not entirely dissimilar to a pension fund investing in CDOs issued by Bear Stears and Lehman Brothers. The result is entirely disproportionate and potentially corrupting. Oh wait, Bama and Florida are already pretty corrupt.

bama12titles

April 2nd, 2009
10:45 am

Jim Donnan,

Well, what can I say? Everyone has a bad day here and there and everyone seems to have at least 1 day day a season. Sometimes ya have 2 embarrassing days in 1 season. It would be kinda like loosing to Vandy and Kentucky in the same year if ya know what I mean. And I think ya do. Those crappy Louisiana schools we play are all 1A teams and not double AA teams. And they are from conferences that do in fact pull upsets over teams from BCS conferences.

Speaking of the really crappy teams from Louisiana there is one team Northwestern State that is a double AA team that took a 2 day bus ride to play an sec team. They were so broke they couldn’t fly their 60 players to the sec site so they took that 2 day bus ride. I won’t mention the sec team though I’m sure Jim Donnan knows it was.

bama12titles

April 2nd, 2009
11:03 am

Atlanta Gator,

That splains a lot if you had to replace a big east member like South Florida at the last moment and couldn’t find a suitable replacement. I agree with you that there are a handful of double a opponent such as APP State and GA. Southern that would make for respectable opponents. The Citadel and Delaware are 2 other double A schools that I would deem worthy opponents.

Bukhead dawg,

The Jax game between the gators and dawgs still does not qualify as a home game for the gators. It is a neutral site and the fan base is supposed to be 50/50 as far as the ticket sales go but the bottom line is that this is not a home game for UF.

You still haven’t splained your comment as to why you think Bama has such a patsy schedule when we will be facing a bcs conference champion like Va Tech who will most likely start out the season in the top 10 or at least the top 15.

I think we can all agree that every sec team generally tries to schedule a top tier name or at least a bcs conference foe in one of their out of conference games and then we all play the rest of our nonconference games against non bcs opponents like the sun belt or conference usa.

So I really don’t want to hear any criticism from a dawg fan like yourself whose bigtime nonconference foe is generally weaker than Bama’s big time out of conference foe. We played Clemson last year which was preseason number 9 while UGA played ASU which was either not in the top 25 at all preseason or barely in the top 25. And while Clemson wasn’t as good as advertised the still went to a bowl and won while I believe ASU was not nearly as successful although I could be wrong.

This year our big opponent Va. Tech will most assuredly be ranked much higher starting out the season than your bcs opponent. And while we can’t see into 2010 I can absolutely guarantee that Penn State is a bigger nonconference name than whoever UGA will play in 2010. Take a look at the schedules before you start criticizing other programs.

GATORZONE

April 2nd, 2009
11:22 am

Charleston Southern was a last minute replacement, and it is a no win game for the Gators.
If they win by 60 it is running up the score, but if they do not people will wonder if they are worthy of #1.

GeoffDawg

April 2nd, 2009
11:27 am

bama12titles – I think that Northwestern state team you’re referring to was a last minute replacement after we were canceled on by somebody much bigger (can’t remember who off the top of my head) at the last minute. That happens sometimes.

bama12titles

April 2nd, 2009
11:32 am

Geoffdawg,

Duly noted

DawginJax

April 2nd, 2009
11:34 am

yohon,
Do you hate Tony so much because he knows when to use commas? Or, could you still “careless”?

GATORZONE

April 2nd, 2009
11:36 am

Yes, we all agree that typical Yankee know it alls like Yohon can take their opinions elsewhere!
Go follow your Big 10 blog!!!

[...] Over the next 15 years the SEC will earn about $3 billion from its television deals, according to Mr. College Football. [...]