Atop the Pac-12 org chart, they’re saying the right things about football.
Washington State’s Kirk Schulz noted recently of his fellow presidents and chancellors: When “new people come into the league that have been elsewhere, they say this (football) is something we need to be talking about.”
Commissioner Larry Scott echoed those sentiments: “There has been a real awareness of the impact success in football and basketball can have on the overall reputation and feeling in the communities we serve.”
Now the Pac-12 honchos need to put their money where their movement is.
They need to invest in football coaches: Head coaches and coordinators, position coaches and strength coaches, analysts and trainers.
We’re not advocating for schools to immediately rip up current contracts and hand over fat raises to the head coaches and coordinators.
But with each new deal that kicks in this winter — whether it’s an extension or a new hire — let’s see significant investment.
It can’t get much worse, as the latest figures from USA Today’s fabulous database indicate:
- The top-paid coach in the conference, Washington’s Chris Petersen, is No. 20 in major college football in compensation for the 2019 season.
- Three Group of Five coaches will make more than five Pac-12 coaches this fall.
- The head coach at USC makes less than the head coach at North Carolina State.
There are other examples.
Loads of them, in fact.
The Hotline went through the database, pulled the salaries for each Pac-12 coach and identified a comparison that hammers home our point.
It wasn’t difficult …
No. 20 (nationally). Washington’s Chris Petersen: $4.63 million
Makes less than: South Florida’s Charlie Strong ($5 million)
No. 21. Stanford’s David Shaw: $4.61 million
Makes less than: Kentucky’s Mark Stoops ($4.76 million)
No. 27. Utah’s Kyle Whittingham: $4 million
Makes less than: Baylor’s Matt Rhule ($4.11 million)
No. 33. Washington State’s Mike Leach: $3.75 million
Makes less than: Arkansas’ Chad Morris ($4 million)
No. 38. UCLA’s Chip Kelly: $3.5 million
Makes less than: Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck ($3.6 million)
No. 43. USC’s Clay Helton: $3.22 million
Makes less than: Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason ($3.39 million)
No. 50. Cal’s Justin Wilcox: $2.85 million
Makes less than: Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins ($3 million)
No. 56. Oregon’s Mario Cristobal: $2.6 million
Makes less than: Memphis’ Mike Norvell ($2.66 million)
No. 58. Colorado’s Mel Tucker: $2.4 million
Makes less than: Boston College’s Steve Addazio ($2.64 million)
No. 59. Arizona State’s Herm Edwards: $2.38 million
Makes less than: Texas Tech’s Matt Wells ($2.8 million)
No. 68. Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin: $2 million
Makes less than: Rutgers’ Chris Ash ($2.3 million)
No. 69. Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith: $1.9 million
Makes less than: Wyoming’s Craig Bohl ($2.13 million)
The situation is no different when it comes to coordinators and assistants.
No Pac-12 program ranks in the top-10 nationally in staff salary pool, and only Washington and Oregon were in the top 20 in 2018 (latest figures available from USA Today).
UCLA’s staff made less than Kentucky’s.
Arizona State’s made less than Louisville’s.
And there are other examples.
Each deal cited above has market-driven logic behind it.
Only Petersen was a sitting head coach at the time of his hiring.
That’s right: Everyone else was promoted from within or was a coordinator elsewhere or was out of coaching.
Promoted from within: Helton, Shaw, Whittingham, Cristobal
Coordinator elsewhere: Tucker, Smith, Wilcox
Out of coaching: Sumlin, Edwards, Kelly, Leach
Instead, the Hotline believes the underlying economic conditions and hiring philosophies need to change.
The model must change.
Whenever I contemplate the Pac-12 coaching salary structure, comments from Arizona State president Michael Crow ring loud and clear.
Crow told the Hotline two years ago that, “It’s highly, highly unlikely that you will see Pac-12 schools doing some of the things other schools have done in terms of coaches salaries. There’a belief that there needs to be some self-imposed limits to all this.”
If that sentiment holds for the next few years, we could very well have a Power Four and Group of Six.
Yes, more cash from the conference office and the Pac-12 Networks, which distribute about $2.5 million per school, would help immensely.
But the reality is this:
The Pac-12 is unlikely to experience a windfall prior to renegotiating its media rights in 2024.
It reportedly declined to partner with ESPN on distribution for the Pac-12 Networks in exchange for an extension of the Tier 1 contract.
It declined to sell equity in its long-term media rights to a financial entity in exchange for up-front cash.
And despite ongoing exploration, there’s no indication the conference will secure a strategic partner — a media or tech company — that would provide a cash infusion.
So the current conference payouts are unlikely to change substantially before 2024.
That’s a long time to suppress the football salary structure.
The change must come on campus, and it’s not up to the athletic directors.
The presidents and chancellors must approve the commitment of new and/or reallocated funds.
Let’s see proof that they believe football matters … that it really matters.